CBC, our national state broadcaster, falsely claimed that former Prime Minister Stephen Harper called for “regime change.” CTV made a similar claim, stating the Harper was calling for “Iranian regime change.”
The National Post’s Chris Selley was quick to call out the two establishment broadcasters, tweeting “Regime change” has a specific meaning that Harper doesn’t even remotely allude to in the passages quoted here. He went on to say that the headline was “pathetic.”
Gerald Butts, former Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, agreed with Selley about the fake headlines, chastizing CTV on Twitter by saying, “I’m not in the business of defending @stephenharper, but he didn’t use the phrase ‘regime change’ in this interview. It’s a loaded term to say the least.”
Many noted that the use of the phrase “regime change” in the headlines from these two major news outlets was highly irresponsible, leaving Canadians with the false impression that the former prime minister was calling for a coup or military action.
In fact, Harper never mentioned regime change. Speaking at a global summit in India, what Harper actually said was: “I don’t think any of us believe that Iran would have deliberately shot down an aircraft, but the very fact that Iran, believing such a thing could happen, would be allowing normal civilian traffic, I think, tells you something about the nature of that regime and its priorities.”
Harper followed this by saying “I do believe we need to see a change in Iran if we’re going to see peace in the Middle East.”
CBC has since issued a correction on Twitter and in their original story, stating: “The headline and lead paragraph of this story has been edited from a previous version that stated Stephen Harper said regime change was needed in Iran. In fact, Harper said “I do believe we need to see a change in Iran if we are going to see peace in the Middle East” and also said “I think without a change in the nature of the government of Tehran, the Middle East will continue to be in turmoil,” but he did not use the phrase ‘regime change’ specifically.”