Journalistic malpractice: CBC omits refugee claimant surge in Toronto homeless crisis stories
Two weeks ago CBC’s The National aired a report on the homeless crisis in Toronto, where the shelter system is currently overwhelmed with people needing a place to stay during the harsh winter nights, with many being turned away because of lack of beds at many locations. The CBC story failed to include any mention of the thousands of refugee claimants who have illegally entered Canada from the U.S. border and sought shelter in Toronto over the past few years that is the major factor in the system being overloaded.
The CBC then repackaged the story and published it on Boxing Day. The story with the major omission became the most popular story on CBC’s website by Thursday afternoon, misinforming the public.
CBC is scrapping its flagship show The National’s new format that had a four-host format that slowed down the program to include long features.
The show was created in the fall of 2017 after Peter Mansbridge retired. The CBC cited negative audience feedback for the decision to scrap the new format, according to the Globe and Mail. The National had been losing tens of thousands of viewers over the past two years, as less and less Canadians have been tuning in.
Rosemary Barton has been moved from an anchor position to the position of chief political correspondent for CBC News. Barton was embroiled in a controversy during the 2019 election after she was named as a plaintiff in a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Conservative Party of Canada after the party used some CBC footage in a campaign attack ad, something all political parties do, which copyright experts said is likely acceptable under fair dealing.
Conservatives have long complained that Barton is partisan for Trudeau’s Liberals, citing her softball interviews of Trudeau, her taking a selfie with him in Washington, and dismissing the Liberal’s large deficit spending as not a problem.
“Television news viewership is driven by consistency, both in format and in presentation. Our audience told us they want to know what they can expect night to night: who will bring them the news and how it will be delivered. We listened. This season we have slowly introduced measures that lead to a more consistent program – including tweaks to our format and sharpened hosting roles,” executive producer of The National Chad Paulin wrote in an internal memo to CBC staff.
Paulin’s memo also addressed Barton’s move.
“Rosemary will bring her unmatched political insight to all of CBC News–including digital, podcasts, radio, and television political specials. She will continue to bring analysis to The National, including contextual reporting, long-form stories and key political interviews. Rosemary will also continue to host At Issue.”
At Issue is a segment included on The National in which political pundits give their opinions on Canadian politics.
Adrienne Arsenault and Andrew Chang, two of the four co-hosts of the scrapped format, will be the two hosts of the program from Monday to Thursday. The other co-host, Ian Hanomansing will be The National’s anchor on Fridays and Sundays.
By the summer of 2019 The National had lost nearly 25 percent (about 124,000 viewers abandoning the program) of its viewership from when the new format was launched, despite the CBC spending a lot in a promotional campaign to sell Canadians on the new anchors and format.
Many Canadians feel the CBC is biased and doesn’t live up to its own standards and practices. Many Canadians have taken action: writing their MP’s, filing complaints, and taking to social media.
But now, with the CBC scheduled to appear before the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to have their licence renewed, an unlikely corner of the internet–#Gamergate–aims to take things to the next level with a co-ordinated campaign to file complaints that they’re calling “#OperationCanadianBaConII”.
They take issue with coverage of gamers on the CBC, stretching all the way back to 2014 when the Canadian public broadcaster first promoted the narrative that #Gamergate was about harassing women (although there were undoubtedly misogynist bad actors within the amorphous internet group), and not about conflicts of interest between video game developers and video game journalists.
They’ve waited until now because the CBC has delayed the date of their consultation period for several years following a “regime change” at the CBC in 2018.
Lead #OperationCanadianBaConII organizer @LunarArchivist hopes that the complaints will prompt an official response from the Canadian government, and lead to the CBC revising their Journalistic Standards and Practices.
“CBC had done several hit pieces on #GamerGate and several supporters, including myself, had filed complaints with the CBC Ombudsman, Esther Enkin, only to have our concerns downplayed and dismissed in her reviews, which were always in favour of the CBC,” he said.
“After speaking with my local Member of Parliament, the idea occurred to me to take a page from the handbook of Operation Disrespectful Nod–a #GamerGate e-mail campaign where supporters were encouraged to inform advertisers of the dubious ethical standards of the websites who had employed smear tactics against us.”
@LunarArchivist says that there are at least a dozen people working together across multiple Discord servers involved with the operation. They’ve got until 8 p.m. EST on February 13 to get their submissions in.
“One hurdle has definitely been trying to convince non-Canadian #GamerGate supporters that they’re allowed to submit interventions despite not being from Canada,” he says.
“The announcement about its start was rather sudden and we’re still working on establishing a distribution network for the archive of all of CBC’s anti-#GamerGate coverage for use as a reference for those who want to concentrate on that aspect of things.”
The #OperationCanadianBacConII crew have been working to transcribe over six hours of audio and video broadcast and prepare a list of specific ways in which the CBC breached their own standards of practice, such as including the false claim that programmer Eron Gjoni accused game developer Zoe Quinn of sleeping with game journalists for good reviews in their reportage.
They’ve also noted when pieces critical of #Gamergate have disappeared from the CBC’s website, and documented how three separate CBC radio interviewers conducted the exact same interview with an anti-#Gamergate “pop-culture expert.”
“We want to raise public awareness of the fact that #GamerGate’s situation isn’t unique and the CBC tends to use the same tactics on others,” @LunarArchivist says.
“First impressions are important, and a bad one can do lasting or permanent damage to your cause or reputation. The longer false information is allowed to marinate in the public consciousness, the more likely it is to get accepted as ‘truth’, regardless of the facts. And the likelihood of this increases if the CBC doesn’t correct the record within a reasonable amount of time.”
This negative impression of gamers as a whole, perpetuated by the CBC is what really bothers the members of #OperationCanadianBaconII.
@LunarArchivists believes that while CBC employees were allowing their anti-gamer biases to seep into their reporting even before #Gamergate started to trend, the real issue is that CBC was just following the leader instead of asking critical questions about the narrative being spread.
“Many CBC journalists just threw due diligence to the wind and ran with the baseless claim advanced by Anita Sarkeesian and other social justice advocates for years that gamers were opposed to mainstream feminism and identity politics and harassing them.”
@LunarArchivist hopes that the operation will not only lead to more balanced coverage of gamers, but will also help other Canadians who are upset with the CBC’s coverage.
“I’m hoping that not just activists, but regular people will start taking a more active role in taking the CBC to task, especially since they get over a billion taxpayer dollars a year.”
The RCMP intercepted 16,503 people illegally crossing into Canada from the U.S.-Canada border in 2019, according to new federal government data.
The number of people entering Canada via the border at unofficial ports of entry declined in 2019, but the total number of people making asylum claims jumped from 55,040 in 2018 to 63,830 according to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada.
The increase is due to more and more people flying to Canada and then making asylum claims upon arrival at airports across the country.
The Safe Third Country Agreement between America and Canada means asylum seekers are supposed to make refugee claims in the first safe country they enter, but when individuals cross illegally into Canada they are able to bypass the agreement.
The Trudeau government dragged its feet on doing anything significant to address the spike in illegal border crossings, first changing the wording to “irregular border crossings” and accusing critics of stoking xenophobia.
But in the lead-up to the 2019 election, after government internal polling showed the vast majority of Canadians polled didn’t approve of people crossing into Canada illegally, the Liberals promised to change legislation to curb the influx.
The spike in illegal border crossings began around the time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that Canada welcomes those looking to find a new home and when U.S. President Donald Trump was cracking down on illegal immigration in America.
The National Post via an access to information request found that their was a deluge of inquiries across the world to Canadian embassies of people inquiring how to immigrate to Canada after Trudeau’s tweet in early 2017.
According to reports, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen’s briefing notes in December stated their are no formal plans setup with the U.S. to address the loophole to the Safe Third Party Agreement.
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.”