OTTAWA – Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said Pierre Poilievre’s criticism of Radio Canada amounted to an attack on Canadian culture by the Conservative leader – and Quebec and Francophone culture in particular.
Singh addressed the issue, speaking in French, after Twitter added a tag to the CBC’s main account on Sunday stating that the broadcaster is “government funded media”.
The move prompted the company to announce on Monday that it was no longer using the social media platform, which had also branded the BBC before rebranding itself as “publicly funded media”.
The CBC receives nearly $1 billion in taxpayer money each year, but says the name is incorrect because it maintains editorial independence and receives its funding through a vote in parliament.
Poilievre regularly promises to cut that funding. He sent a letter to Twitter last week requesting that the label be applied to accounts associated with CBC News, though the letter did not mention Radio Canada, the broadcaster’s French-speaking wing.
The Conservative leader has hinted in media interviews that while he believes the CBC should be excluded, he sees the value of its French-language programming and the need to serve francophone communities, but the NDP and the Quebec bloc raise particular concerns about this. Approaching.
“This is not just an attack on independent journalists,” Singh told reporters on Monday, speaking in French. But it is also an attack on Canadian culture, especially Quebec culture and Francophone culture. »
He said an attack on the broadcaster would “hit the francophone community across the country who depend on Radio Canada for news, to share stories and to share culture.”
“It shows someone willing to engage with Quebec culture.”
Poilievre’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Earlier in the day, the leader of the Bloc of Quebec, Yves-François Blanchett, said on Twitter that Poilifry was playing a risky ideological game and publicly threatening the French language, access to information and the arts.
Pierre-Paul Hues, l’un des deux députés conservateurs nommés par poiliffry pour faire partie de l’equipe de direction of the Chamber des communes, a response to the tribune for dire que l’affirmation of du du bloc sur les coupes imminentes était mistake.
The federal Conservatives currently hold nine of Quebec’s 78 federal seats, while the ruling Liberals hold 34 and another 32 belong to the bloc. The NDP has one seat and Alan Rees, a former Conservative who left the party last fall after Poiliffry won the leadership race, is sitting as an independent.
Boelver, who speaks fluent French, has visited Quebec several times since becoming leader of the Conservative Party.
Gains in the seat-rich province proved difficult for the Federalist party, whose support is heavily concentrated in western Canada. Since the 2006 federal election that elected Stephen Harper, the province’s best-performing Conservatives have won dozens of seats.
Quebec’s only MP, Alexandre Bouleris, told reporters Monday that Poilifry is “at war with Radio-Canada” which he has championed as an independent organization.
Asked about Poilievre’s offer to keep funding for his French-language services, Bouleris noted that the Conservatives are weighing their electoral chances in Quebec, a predominantly French-speaking province.
“Perhaps it is arithmetic because otherwise[it]is meaningless, this wrong distinction.”
The CBC has made it clear that any proposal to cancel its funding while maintaining its French-language programming would require an amendment to the Broadcasting Code, the law that gives it its mandate.
In a statement last week, spokesman Leon Marr said the funding from Radio Canada, not the CBC, would “change the nature of funding for programs and services in Canada to direct public funds to a single language group.”
Marr’s statement noted that federal law states that radio must provide services in both official languages.
The law also states that the company must be independent. As it is, the funding decisions on how to use the taxpayer money it receives each year are made by a board of trustees, without interference from government or parliament.
Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez criticized Bolíver’s comments to the CBC and accused him of turning to American billionaires for his attacks, referring to Twitter CEO Elon Musk.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 17, 2023.
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press