Trudeau's 'censorship czar' claims Poilievre 'doesn't want to answer tough questions'

On April 18, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez claimed Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre reached a new low in his recent 'attacks' on Canadian media.

Trudeau's 'censorship czar' claims Poilievre 'doesn't want to answer tough questions'
The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
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"We already know he wants to cut the CBC…[because] he doesn't want to answer [their] questions - the tough questions that we have to answer," he said in a video posted to Twitter.

"There's a lot of CBC bashing going on — somewhat stoked by the Leader of the Opposition," said the broadcaster's President and CEO Catherine Tait in a February interview. She accused Poilievre of "inciting attacks" on the broadcaster.

On January 13, Poilievre jokingly pledged to convert the CBC headquarters into family housing and offer Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a one-way ticket to Hollywood.

"It just warms my heart to think of a beautiful family pulling up in a U-Haul to move into their new home in the former headquarters of the CBC," he told a lively Winnipeg crowd.

On April 13, a Canadian Press reporter asked the Tory leader if he would change the Broadcasting Act to defund the English-language CBC. He alleged the Canadian Press is the public broadcaster's "biggest client." 

"I just want to be careful that we don't get you into a conflict of interest here," Poilievre said during a press conference from Edmonton. The Canadian Press is a wire service which prominent Canadian publications like the CBC and The Globe and Mail pay into. 

"Have you checked with the Ethics Commissioner on whether you're in a conflict of interest in asking about CBC funding given that it's the principal source of money for [The Canadian Press]?" The reporter said she would "check" with her editors about the potential conflict.

"He's afraid of what he can't control," claimed Rodriguez, also known as the 'Censorship Czar.' 

"He talks about censorship. He talks about freedom of speech, but he doesn't want to answer the tough questions," Rodriguez said of Poilievre.

On April 13, the Tory leader said the CBC negatively impacts all media and is a "biased propaganda arm of the Liberal party." He alleged The Canadian Press favourably reports on the state broadcaster to keep its taxpayer-funded client happy.

In February, Tait claimed the Tories are "a group of dissenters and detractors, and they have been given voice." She said, "They have a megaphone, and they're using it."

On Tait, Poilievre claimed that she is a "mouthpiece for Justin Trudeau." He said, "They're not even pretending to be unbiased."

In 2021, Cabinet determined that CBC qualified for a COVID bailout of $21 million "in immediate operational support" as part of their total parliamentary grant of $1.36 billion.

In November 2022, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) reported the state broadcaster paid more than $156 million in bonuses and pay raises since 2015 — an average annual bonus and pay raise of $14,200 and $1,800, respectively. 

The Forum for Research and Policy in Communications (FRPC) estimates that the state broadcaster has cost taxpayers approximately $80 billion since its inception in 1937.

"We need a neutral and free media — not a propaganda arm for the Liberal Party," said Poilievre. "We must protect Canadians against disinformation and manipulation by state media."

"When I'm prime minister, we're going to have a free press, where everyday Canadians decide what they think, rather than having Liberal propaganda jammed down your throat," he continued. "Canadians deserve the facts."

The federal heritage minister pushed back against his Conservative counterpart, claiming Poilievre "wants fewer journalists, less accountability…and now he's running to weaken the CBC."

"We've seen what happens when politicians attack the world of journalism," claimed Rodriguez. "We've seen in the past when they say that the media is the enemy. We can't let this go."

"Journalists are fundamental to our democracy."

As first reported by Rebel News, Conservative MP Dean Allison tabled documents in Parliament that unveiled Ottawa had requested social media companies to remove 214 posts between January 2020 and February 2023.

Heritage Critic Rachael Thomas referenced an attempt by Immigration Canada to censor a 2021 Toronto Sun article by columnist Lorne Gunter. It covered pending changes within the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) that leaked to the media.

"The government's requests were denied, thankfully," she said.

On March 30, Poilievre informed Canadians that Parliament passed Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act, or the Online Censorship Bill. It returns to the Senate for debate.

On February 2, Liberal Senator David Richards likened the censorship bill to totalitarian regimes during its third reading.

"Stalin again will be looking over our shoulder when we write," he said, painting similarities between the legislation and 19th-Century dictatorships.

"In Germany, it was called the Ministry of National Enlightenment," continued Richards, as he compared it to the Reich Ministry for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment which controlled film, radio, theatre, and the press during Hitler's reign in Nazi Germany.

On April 16, Thomas penned a letter to the House Speaker, requesting an "emergency debate" on social media censorship by Ottawa.

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