Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre asked a Canadian Press journalist if she’s in a conflict of interest after she levied a question about his plans to defund Canada’s state broadcaster.
The Canadian Press is a wire service which large Canadian newspapers, like the CBC, The Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star, pay into.
After a Canadian Press reporter asked Poilievre if he would change the Broadcasting Act to defund english-language CBC, Poilievre said 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,” he said from Edmonton on Thursday.
“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 (Canadian Press)?”
Poilievre has pledged to “defund the CBC” while maintaining its French-language programming. He’ll have to overhaul the country’s broadcasting law to do it.
The reporter in question said she would “check” with her editors about the potential conflict before repeating her question.
Poilievre responded that the CBC negatively impacts all media and is a “biased propaganda arm of the Liberal party.” He said that, for example, the Canadian Press must favourably report on the CBC to keep its large, taxpayer-funded client happy.
“We need a neutral and free media — not a propaganda arm for the Liberal Party,” he said.
“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.”
Earlier this week, Poilievre called on Twitter to list all accounts owned by the CBC as government-funded media.
“I believe that Twitter should apply the Government-funded Media label to the CBC’s various news-related accounts, including @CBC, @CBCNews and @CBCAlerts,” Poilievre wrote in a letter addressed to the tech giant.
He linked the CBC’s 2020-2021 annual report revealing the broadcaster received nearly $1.24 billion in public funding.
Twitter’s Platform Use Guidelines describe “Government-funded Media” as outlets where the government provides some or all of the outlet’s funding and may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content.