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Another round of CBC-bashing from a federal politician. How original.

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Another round of CBC-bashing from a federal politician. How original.

This time it is Conservative party leader Pierre Poilievre who got his 15 minutes (plus) of rage fame this past week, after pushing Twitter owner Elon Musk to label the CBC as “state media.” This follows a move by Musk to slap these labels on the BBC in the U.K. and NPR in the United States — putting them into the same category as Tass, the Russian-controlled state media.

In Poilievre’s open letter to Musk, he wrote: “We must protect Canadians against disinformation and manipulation by state media. That is why I’m asking @Twitter @elonmusk to accurately label CBC as ‘government-funded media.’ It is a fact. And Canadians deserve the facts.”


Federal Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre.

Funny, how on one hand Poilievre denounces the CBC for misinformation and on the other relies on its journalists for breaking news stories on Twitter. But I digress.

Listen, it’s not that big a secret. The CBC is a Crown corporation and like the BBC, Deutschlandradio in Germany and NPO in the Netherlands, it is part of the public radio broadcast system that many countries utilize.

It’s not a nefarious plot by government to control information. It is a nefarious plot to ensure the public gets information about important democratic events such as elections and leadership debates. Case in point: if you will recall, it was CBC Manitoba that stayed on the air until the vote tally was counted in last fall’s municipal election, declaring Scott Gillingham mayor instead of the embarrassing premature call from CTV for Glen Murray, made because the private broadcaster had to resume its regular programming.

Poilievre seems to be on course to take a wrecking ball to a slew of Canadian Crown corporations and institutions. He’s taken aim at the Bank of Canada and its governor Tiff Macklem, suggesting he would “fire” him should he be elected.

Poilievre labelled the BoC as “financially illiterate” and in cahoots with the Trudeau government for monetary policy aimed at supporting the government’s deficit financing. Take note, that policy seems to be working. Inflation dropped yet again on Monday to 4.2 per cent.

The Conservative leader has also taken on academics and “pointy-headed professors,” (no wonder I can’t get a hat to fit), the elitists and know-nothing experts who have been proven wrong about crime and social disorder. Poilievre has been decrying all attempts at bail reform and blaming Justin Trudeau and the Liberals for a rise in crime. This, according to Poilievre, is the fault of the “radical woke anti-police agenda by the NDP and Liberals.”

The radical woke crowd may suggest it may instead be the result of ongoing issues with poverty, an out-of-control opioid crisis and homelessness, but that’s just my pointy head talking. Poilievre hasn’t talked much about any serious policy on those issues except to blame cities for poor planning. The Conservatives, should they ever come to power, also plan to sue big pharma for the role it played in the crisis.

This is all, of course, Conservative populism 101 and plays well to Poilievre’s base, particularly if he wants them to dig deep into their wallets as the barbecue and kissing-babies season opens this summer, pre-election. Most pundits reading the tea leaves think an election won’t likely happen this year, and if the Liberal-NDP deal can continue to hold strong, could be as far off as 2025, especially if the Conservative numbers keep climbing. So, it’s a great time for Poilievre to be feeling his oats.

While many may wonder if all Skippy (a nickname from his early political career) is doing is playing to his base, others think he may be trying to do more than that. In fact, Poilievre may be trying to court voters who cast a ballot for the People’s Party of Canada in the last federal election.

Despite not electing one candidate, Maxime Bernier and his party managed to garner five per cent electoral support, run 312 candidates and raised $725,293 in the final three months of 2022, a record for the five quarters that the young party has been filing quarterly financial returns to Elections Canada.

That’s not chump change, and it signals that there are some voters whom the Conservatives may be able to sway to their side.

At some point, Poilievre does have to start offering a vision for “fixing” Canada, rather than just providing a steady list of what he sees as broken. If he wants to play the populist card that worked so well in Republican victories in the U.S., he’s going to have to do more than just rage.

He’s going to have to offer a viable alternative. But he has some time for that — at least another year. However, it may prove difficult to do, particularly if the Liberals continue to maintain policies that keep the recession at bay and the unemployment rate at historic lows. Hardly broken.

Shannon Sampert is a communications consultant, freelance editor for Policy Options and former politics and perspectives editor at the Free Press. She continues to teach part time at the University of Manitoba.

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