Trudeau claims Canada needs to subsidize CBC to 'protect our democracy'

"We need CBC/Radio Canada to be strong to protect our culture, to protect our democracy, and to tell our stories from one end of the country to another."


During Wednesday’s Question Period in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged continued financial support for the CBC because the state-run media is needed “to protect our democracy.”

Trudeau was responding to a question from Quebec Member of Parliament Martin Champoux (BQ-Drummond) who was demanding more money for the Quebec division of CBC, Radio Canada.

Trudeau responded, “Mr. Speaker, at a time of misinformation and disinformation, and the transformation of our media and digital era. We need CBC/Radio Canada to be strong to protect our culture, to protect our democracy, and to tell our stories from one end of the country to another. We'll always be here to defend CBC/Radio Canada, and we are going to seek to make necessary investments … to fulfill their mandate to inform and to strengthen democracy here in Canada.”

Trudeau then discussed how his government is also massively subsidizing the mainstream media.

“Mr. Speaker, supporting journalists and local media is very important for this government, particularly at this time that is challenging. This is why we put forth [Bill] C-18 which will help our journalists at all levels to continue operating. We'll be here to support a free and independent press. That is professional. We know there's a lot of work to be done still. At this time of uncertainty, we'll be here to work with all parties who want to protect journalism, unlike the Conservatives.”

After the passage of Bill C-18, or the Online News Act, Google agreed to pay $100 million annually to Canadian media outlets.

Combined with other payouts for Canadian media, the Trudeau government could effectively be subsidizing 50 percent of the legacy media. 

The Trudeau government revealed that it would be increasing its subsidy on approved journalists’ salaries as part of its recent Fall Economic Statement.

The CBC remains the target of Opposition lawmakers who are asking why a corporation in apparent fiscal freefall can continue to reward its top bureaucrats. 

On Tuesday CBC President Catherine Tait continued to defend bonuses for senior executives at the media outlet, labeling these payouts of up to $14,000 as “performance pay.”

She did not say why these employees should be rewarded when Tait has already announced massive cuts for the organization that receives $1.3 billion in taxpayer funding every year and the remuneration from paid advertising on its television division. Tait announced 600 job cuts last year and explained that the crown corporation is expecting to lose $125 million in FY 2024-25 as a result of "rising production costs, declining television advertising revenue and fierce competition from the digital giants."

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