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The Hill Update - May 20

Dean and Rachel Harder discuss the contentious Bill C-10 and how the Liberal government is further attempting to control the media - this time it's the internet.

Today I’d like to take you back to 2019 - the federal election of 2019.

Election Day was October 21. You probably know that on that day, the current federal government was reduced to a minority, losing 26 seats — a huge blow delivered for the most part by the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

What you probably don’t know, is that with 10 days left in the campaign — Canada’s state broadcaster — the CBC — sued the Conservative Party. Again, this happened during the campaign, prompting many commentators to once again accuse the CBC of anti-Conservative bias.

“You do not send out your reporters in the morning to cover a politician, and then send out your lawyers in the afternoon to harass him in court. It goes against — what is that term? — the doctrine of impartiality in news coverage.” Rex Murphy

Why did the CBC sue the Conservative party? They sued because the Conservatives put out a campaign ad that had some CBC footage. The broadcaster accused the Conservative party of copyright infringement for using this footage.

The CBC also claimed it suffered reputational damage.

The claim was that by using a total of 30 seconds of video material from the CBC in a one-minute, 46-second online ad and by using video clips for Tweets put up during a leader’s debate, the Conservatives have “taken” CBC’s work without permission.

At issue was a video titled "Look at What We've Done," published around Oct. 4 on a Conservative Party website (, a Facebook page and a YouTube page.

The Conservatives responded that they were working under the “fair dealings” provision of Canada’s copyright act and their actions were protected.

The ads in question also contained material from CTV, CityTV and Global but only CBC launched a lawsuit against the Conservatives.

The CBC launched the case even though they had been warned in the past against doing so.

Elections Canada had even stated that the use of broadcast news material in an ad is not a violation of copyright.

More than a year and a half after the election a federal judge has ruled on the case.

The CBC lost.

The court found no evidence that the broadcaster suffered reputational damage

In his decision, Judge Michael Phelan said the CBC did not prove that the Conservative Party harmed the broadcaster by using their footage during the 2019 federal election. Phelan wrote: “There was no evidence presented that a broadcaster's segment disclosed in a partisan setting reflected adversely on the broadcaster.”

The court also ordered the CBC to pay the Conservative party’s legal costs.

Many commentators have accused the CBC’s conduct as appalling and politically-motivated.

Rex Murphy, in his usual wit had this to say: “You do not send out your reporters in the morning to cover a politician, and then send out your lawyers in the afternoon to harass him in court. It goes against — what is that term? — the doctrine of impartiality in news coverage.”

Others say that the lawsuit was further proof of just how anti-Conservative the CBC has become.

Brian Lilley from the Toronto Sun gave his take on the CBC’s actions, saying, “Nothing like being a player in the game where you are supposed to be a neutral observer.” Lilley goes on to say, “What undermines trust in the CBC is that it poses as a neutral media observer when it has fully transformed into an arm of the Liberal Party.”

Lilley concludes that the “CBC would earn more respect from the millions of Canadians who currently refuse to watch them if they would admit their political bias.”

Keep in mind that the CBC receives $1.2 billion annually from the federal government, and yet fewer and fewer Canadians are tuning in.

The declining viewership has gone on for years, yet the broadcaster’s government funding has increased. It makes little sense.

In response to the court ruling, the Conservative party issued a statement saying, “This decision is a clear win for democracy. It will serve to enhance the freedom of political expression – a significant component of a healthy democracy.”

Joining me on the show this week is Rachael Harder. Rachael is the MP for the riding of Lethbridge. She was first elected in 2015, in 2016 she was named one of Lethbridge’s “top 40 under 40”

After 2019 re-election Rachael was elected as chair of the standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics. She is currently the Shadow minister for digital government

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