Conservative MP Andrew Scheer has launched a petition to defund Canada’s public broadcaster, citing concerns about CBC News’ “radical left-wing” content and its impact on the country’s media landscape.
“More and more Canadians are fed up with the CBC’s radical left-wing agenda,” the petition website says.
“There are also concerns that CBC’s online news presence is undermining the viability of Canadian print and online media, reducing the diversity of voices available to Canadians.”
Scheer noted in his petition that CBC receives $1.5 billion in annual Canadian taxpayer money, despite CBC television being watched by less than 3.9 percent of Canadians and CBC News broadcasts attracting less than 1 percent of Canadians.
Scheer’s petition has accrued over 3,800 signatories as of the publishing of this article.
The petition comes after the recent resignation of CBC producer Tara Henley, who accused the public broadcaster of declining journalistic standards.
The news broadcaster embodies “some of the worst trends in mainstream media,” she wrote on Jan. 3 on Substack, an online newsletter platform increasingly popular with writers who seek greater independence.
“In a short period of time, the CBC went from being a trusted source of news to churning out clickbait that reads like a parody of the student press,” Henley said in her article titled “Speaking Freely.”
She also said that working at CBC News in the current climate is tantamount to “embrac[ing] cognitive dissonance and to abandon journalistic integrity.”
“It is to sign on, enthusiastically, to a radical political agenda that originated on Ivy League campuses in the United States and spread through American social media platforms that monetize outrage and stoke societal divisions,” Henley wrote.
“It is to pretend that the ‘woke’ worldview is near universal—even if it is far from popular with those you know, and speak to, and interview, and read.”
Henley said “good journalism” cannot be done under this context, which she says is to “capitulate to certainty, to shut down critical thinking, to stamp out curiosity. To keep one’s mouth shut, to not ask questions, to not rock the boat.”
Following Henley’s remarks about her resignation, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said on Twitter that he would love to sit down and start a conversation with her on “how to fix the CBC.”
“The state broadcaster model is broken and getting worse. Even longtime CBC employees are starting to speak out on this. I’ll start by cancelling the $675 million Trudeau increase and by reviewing its mandate for the digital age,” O’Toole later wrote on social media.
In the 2020 Conservative leadership race, O’Toole had promised to defund CBC News—reducing it to radio and French-language services, and cut funding for CBC English TV by 50 percent.
He called for a “modernization” of the CBC News during an interview with the Canadian public broadcaster prior to the election, which he said was deleted by the corporation.
“The ratings show that very few Canadians watch CBC. And so why should 100 percent of taxpayers subsidize it?” O’Toole said. “So it should be more of a public broadcaster model, with less commercials, less competition.”