Check Your Facts

“A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. And you devalue the citizenship of every Canadian in this place and in this country when you break down and make it conditional for anyone.” – Justin Trudeau, 2015.

Back then he was talking about whether convicted terrorists should be stripped of their citizenship. Times seem to have changed.

There has been considerable discussion in Canadian political circles in the past week or so about the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the CBC, and Twitter. Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre wrote to Twitter head Elon Musk asking that the CBC received the same designation on Twitter as other government news organizations. Twitter has been identifying these to help users to evaluate whether there might be some bias in the reporting.

Musk complied, creating a mild political storm. Prime Minister Trudeau is outraged at this suggestion the CBC is less than an impartial news agency. Not that it hasn’t been suggested many times before.

Two thirds of the corporation’s funding does come from the government. And while there is no direction as to editorial content of news programming, there is certainly a mandate that influences entertainment programming. Which may be why so few people watch CBC – entertaining programming doesn’t seem to be a priority.

Which is not a personal value judgement – I don’t watch other television networks either. I do note though that CBC programs are consistently at the bottom of the ratings.

Any objective observer would note that CBC news coverage tends to be both liberal and Liberal in its worldview, which may reflect the personal stance of the journalists as opposed to a government directive. There is a definite bias, though it might be unconscious. If you have a preference in pronouns teh CBC will be scrupulous in using whatever you choose to self-describe. But a self-described pro-life organization will not be described that way. It seems to be against policy.

With the CBC Twitter account labeled, the Prime Minister criticized Mr. Poilievre in the House of Commons, saying he was for running to his American billionaire friends for support in attacking a Canadian institution. The implication was that Elon Musk has no business questioning the CBC.

It was an attempt to change the conversation, which was about Trudeau having accepted an $80,000 family vacation from a friend who is also a major donor to the Trudeau Foundation. (The Ethics Commissioner did sign off on the vacation, but it is unknown if the foundation connection was mentioned in the PM’s disclosure.)

I think many of us wish our friends were that generous. Mine probably are – but they aren’t that rich. And I doubt I would accept that sort of gift if I was an elected official. It just doesn’t look right. I would have expected that Mr. Trudeau would have thought twice, given he previously ran afoul of the Ethics Commissioner for a similar vacation.

Maybe he was successful in changing the discussion channel to focus on the relationship between Poilievre and Musk. But it may not have been the best thought out plan.

I doubt Musk and Poilievre have ever met, though I suppose it is possible. Because Elon Musk is not just an American billionaire, as Trudeau charged, but he is also a Canadian one. Canada allows dual citizenship, and Musk is indeed a Canadian citizen. I hadn’t realized that, never having cared enough to look at his biography before. He lives and works in the US, made his fortune there, but he holds a Canadian passport.

Whoever briefed the PM did a poor job. or maybe he just doesn’t care about the truth. Musk has as much right as any other citizen to be critical of the CBC. Or to defend it if he is so inclined. A citizen’s rights do not vanish merely because they live in the U.S.

But apparently “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian”‘ only applies if you agree with the Liberals.

Are you surprised?




  1. Apparently Musk’s mother was born in Regina. Musk got his Canadian citizenship when he was attending Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. His first wife was a Canadian author.

    The Twitter tag ‘government-funded media’ seems like an accurate description for the approximate $1.4 M (70%) of annual federal government funding. Apparently the final decision on CBC Board appointments is made by the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Advisory Committee that identifies candidates are also named by the Minister.

  2. Neil Remington Abramson · · Reply

    Mr. Poilievre’s attitude about the CBC is one of the reasons I will not be voting for him. He said is too attacking and divisive for my taste; a real Blue Tepulican-style Conservative.

    I should hasten to add that he I am a centrist Red Tory. I don’t like Mr. Trudeau and have never voted for him but he’s a bit like Mr Netanyahu has been until this reincarnation- the best of thoroughly bad alternatives, Given that next election the choice is Mr Poilievre or Mr Trudeau, I think Trudeau will be the best alternative for unless he does something really stupid- a not improbable possibility. If he does, I suppose I’ll have to consider Mr Singh.

    I will likely return to the federal fold when the party finds someone moderate again.

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