In recent days, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and it’s principle anchor, Rosemary Barton, have been lambasted on social media and in the national political discourse for bringing a lawsuit against the Conservative Party of Canada, based on the party’s use of publicly broadcasted footage.
In the United States, such a lawsuit would have been laughed out of court. The fair use doctrine protects the use of popular content in the political discourse when it’s not being distributed for financial gain, whether or not it’s affiliated with a party.
The Chronicle has learned that Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s principal secretary and chief political operative, repeatedly phoned Barton prior to the CBC’s initiation of that lawsuit. Barton was a moderator of the Federal Leaders’ Debate and was widely criticized for her soft-handling of Trudeau.
Critics want Barton and Butts to disclose the nature of their communications.
In light of the Trudeau government’s $1.6 billion annual package of funding and subsidies for the major Canadian media companies, many operatives suspect that Butts was trying to leverage those public resources for his personal political advantage. The Canadian media is often criticized for far left-of-center biases.
“This lawsuit comes in the form of taxpayer-funded propaganda on the eve of an election, and the CBC should be ashamed of itself,” explains a staffer for the Peoples Party of Canada, who asked not to be named. “That this stunt is being executed by political operatives inside State-funded television is beyond ironic. It’s an outrageous attempt to swing an election.”
It’s unclear if Barton will be forced to resign over the public outrage.