The CBC's lawsuit against the Conservatives cost $400,000 — took three years to disclose

Canada’s state broadcaster unsuccessfully sued the federal Conservatives last federal election for bootlegging images without payment or permission during the 2019 general election. The legal challenge's costs come to $392,637.12.

The CBC's lawsuit against the Conservatives cost $400,000 — took three years to disclose
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Canada’s state broadcaster unsuccessfully sued the Poilievre Conservatives last federal election, leaving taxpayers to foot an expensive $360,000 legal bill.

The network earlier alleged the Official Opposition of bootlegging images without payment or permission in a 2019 campaign video to YouTube, reported Blacklock’s Reporter in May 2020. 

The video Look At What We’ve Done included excerpts from a 2017 At Issue panel and a 2018 town hall telecast with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  

“Selectively editing various news items together to present a sensational and one-sided perspective against one particular political party may leave a viewer with the impression that CBC is biased contrary to its obligations under the Broadcasting Act,” network lawyers wrote the Federal Court then.

CBC News also claimed improper use of their excerpts from the leaders’ debate on X, formerly Twitter. 

Their footage is licensed at roughly $45 per second.

The Trudeau Liberals refused disclosure of the lawsuit against the Conservatives and its costs for roughly three years — until now.

Newly obtained documents, obtained through a 2021 access to information request, pegged costs incurred by taxpayers at $359,971.34. Additional compensation from the federal Conservatives put the final costs at $392,637.12.

The going rate for Stockwoods LLP, the private firm who pursued the civil litigation, ranged from $400 to $700 per billable hour at the time, reported Blacklock’s.

“The Trudeau government has just given up on its promise of openness and accountability,” Conservative Senate leader Don Plett told The National Post. “In this specific situation, we had to go around roadblocks that were set by the government to get an answer to my questions three years ago.”

Details on the civil litigation remained under lock and key due to solicitor-client privilege, but Plett contends the federal government failed to respond to his initial request. He filed a second inquiry in November 2020.

The initial response failed as the order paper question died on dissolution of the 43rd Parliament. The second response remains at the Senate.

As of writing, the Department of Canadian Heritage has yet to explain the parliamentary delay, and whether or not the department is opposed to publicly disclosing the information. 

“Somebody needs to be held accountable for this because we have the right to have these answers,” said Plett.

The Federal Court ultimately dismissed the case, claiming no evidence existed that the footage “reflected adversely on the broadcaster.”

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has since pledged to expedite access to information requests and bolster government transparency if elected prime minister.

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