OK, I admit it. Maybe “retract” was an overstatement.
Brodie Fenlon, the editor-in-chief of CBC News has written to all MPs and senators complaining that “misinformation about CBC News reporting continues to bubble up in certain Canadian publications and political venues.”
Fenlon maintained that the claim (made by me and others) “that CBC News retracted its stories about foreign donations to the convoy … is false.”
Admittedly, technically, the CBC didn’t “retract” two stories it published last winter about how the Freedom Convoy was funded. But it substantially corrected them, enough that the main point of the stories – that foreign governments and donors were influencing the blockade – was materially altered.
That has the same effect as a retraction.
If I wrote “night is light and day is dark,” then was shown evidence to the contrary and a few weeks later admitted I got it backwards. That would completely undermine by earlier contention that government should spend more money on streetlights in the daytime and save tax dollars by shutting them off at night.
Why does this seesaw battle between Mother Corp and other journalists over technicalities in a pair of CBC stories matter? Because we have learned that while the Trudeau government was not asked by a single police force to impose the Emergencies Act, cabinet and senior bureaucrats did rely on CBC reporting for justification when suspending every Canadian’s civil liberties last February.
If the CBC incorrectly claimed that the Russians and a lot of scary Americans were behind the truckers’ rally, and the Trudeau government acted because of those claims, then the imposition of the Emergencies Act was based on misinformation and overreaction.
The justification for using the Emergencies Act would evaporate.
So just what did the CBC say about the funding of the convoy?
In early February, CBC reported it had completed an “exclusive analysis” of donations sent to the convoy through its first online fundraiser, GoFundMe. The Ceeb insisted GoFundMe “ended a fundraiser for the protesters over questionable donations to the group.”
The report went on to say hundreds of donations from the United States had been discovered (as if that were somehow illegal or unethical) and that those American contributions were “likely only a fraction of all the donations made by people outside of Canada.”
In the end, only a tiny fraction of donations came from the States and elsewhere. As GoFundMe’s CEO, Juan Benitez told the Commons public safety committee in early March, “Our records show 88 per cent of donated funds originated in Canada.”
Even Barry MacKillop, the deputy director of the government’s own anti-terrorism funding investigation group (FINTRAC), told the Commons finance committee around the same time that his office had found no evidence of a conspiracy to slip money the truckers. “There were people around the world who were fed up with COVID and … just wanted to support the cause.”
That’s a far cry from claims by the Trudeau government (and the insinuation of the CBC) that Putin operatives and neo-Nazis were behind Freedom Convoy 2022.
The CBC was a little closer to the mark on donations sent through a second website, GiveSendGo. It reported “55.7% of the 92,844 donations … were made by donors in the U.S., compared to 39% of donors located in Canada.”
In fact, the GiveSendGo donations were 60 per cent Canadian, 40 per cent foreign. But by then the convoy was international news and support from outside was pouring in.
Fenlon insists the CBC stands by its original stories. Good for them.
I’m sure the Trudeau Libs are only too happy to stand by their pals at the CBC, too. Without the CBC’s cover, the Liberals would have no excuse for having invoked the most draconian law in the land.