Rosemary Barton being removed as applicant in CBC’s lawsuit against CPC, still covering election
The CBC released a statement Saturday addressing the lawsuit it filed against the Conservative Party of Canada, which included mention of filing an amendment this coming Tuesday to remove CBC journalists Rosemary Barton and John Paul Tasker as applicants in the copyright infringement lawsuit.
“To be clear, CBC/Radio Canada was the driver of this process, not the journalists” reads part of the CBC statement that mentions removing the journalists’ names as plaintiffs. “CBC/Radio Canada named and added the journalists to the application because their images and content were used inappropriately.”
Lawyers uninvolved in the lawsuit but observing the situation believe it is highly doubtful that the CBC journalists were not aware they were applicants in the lawsuit.
“In a multi-party retainer situation there is a checklist the lawyers have to go through including advising clients of potential for conflict of interest as between clients,” said Toronto based litigation lawyer and Governor of the Law Society of Ontario Jared Brown to The Post Millennial. “It’s not likely that a major law firm failed that step. But if they did proceed without authorization, it could be professional misconduct, and the lawyers could be personally required to pay a costs order. This says nothing of the horrible optics of the [public ] broadcaster suing a political party in the midst of a campaign.”
If CBC journalists Barton, co-host of The National, and Tasker were aware of the lawsuit it would mean Barton co-moderated the leaders’ debate while not disclosing to the public she was suing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s party.
The copyright infringement notice was sent to CPC reps hours before the debate.
“Rosemary and John Paul will continue to cover the election,” said CBC’s public affairs head Chuck Thompson to The Post Millennial Sunday.
“…CBC/Radio Canada was the driver of this process, not Rosemary Barton or John Paul Tasker. We named and added them to the application because their images and journalism were misused for partisan purposes, negatively impacting perceptions of their independence.”
Thompson also cited previous copyright lawsuits CBC filed against CPC and NDP think tank The Broadbent Institute.
“And that happened during the 2015 election campaign when we sued the Conservative Party as well as The Broadbent Institute for the same reasons we took legal action last Thursday.”
Thompson did not provide any other examples of other federal political parties being sued or sent cease and desist letters for using CBC content, which federal parties also routinely do.
Many high-profile critics and experts have spoken out on social media saying CBC’s lawsuit is far more damaging for the credibility of the journalists and public broadcaster than CPC’s use of short CBC clips.
University of Ottawa copyright law professor Michael Geist says the CPC’s use of CBC clips falls well within the fair dealing provision of the Copyright Act, which allows others to use and reference parts of another’s work.
Barton in the past has repeatedly been accused by Conservatives of being partial for the Trudeau Liberals. Months after Trudeau became prime minister she thought it was appropriate to take a selfie with him and post it on social media. Recently she has made subjective comments favouring Trudeau and his party live on air, including dismissing the large deficits the Liberals have run and the RCMP are “just asking a few questions” about Trudeau and his staff’s involvement in potential judicial interference in the SNC Lavalin case.
The Canadian Twitterverse erupted on Saturday over the news CBC is suing the CPC. #DefundCBC was a top trending topic for the greater part of the day. The offending CPC attack video was shared widely on social media, one copy receiving over 750,000 views.
CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices state in the introduction of the “Conflict of Interest” section that “journalists are, first and foremost, expected to be independent and impartial. This means that our primary allegiance is to the public. Any conflict, real or perceived, between that allegiance and our personal or professional interests risks corroding the trust placed in us by Canadians.”
“The Conservative Party has grave concern that this decision was made on the eve of an election that CBC is to be covering fairly and objectively,” the CPC said in a statement. “The Conservative Party considers this a complete distraction in the final days of tightly contested election, and we will dispute this lawsuit fully.”
The party’s statement also said, “When you are funded entirely by taxpayer dollars, taxpayers should be able to use the footage.”
Barton’s predecessor at The National and mentor Peter Mansbridge came to his handpicked successor over the weekend on Twitter.
“A ridiculous situation at the CBC this weekend. @rosiebarton being targeted by trolls for something she had nothing to do with while CBC lawyers who engineered this mess enjoy their weekend.”
In 2015 Mansbridge sent an email to the head of CBC news complaining about a CPC attack ad that used a clip of an interview he did with Justin Trudeau in which the Conservatives used Trudeau’s comments on the Boston Bombing. His complaints led to a lawsuit against the Conservatives. When Trudeau was sworn-in as PM Mansbridge was ridiculed for his fawning exclusive interview with him. He also had his close friend and Liberal partisan Bruce Anderson giving political analysis (i.e. Liberal spin) for years on The National.
Other news broadcasters’ clips were used in the CPC attack ad but they have yet to file lawsuits against the party.
Disclosure:Garnett Genuis is the Conservative MP representing Sherwood Park–Fort Saskatchewan in Alberta.
At the federal level, I have consistently sought to advance the protection of conscience in legislation and policy. A right to freedom of conscience is enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and is part of other human rights documents going back to before Confederation.
Protection of conscience has a strong moral and intellectual basis. The most important freedom we all have is the right to an independent and personal search for truth–to do what we believe right and avoid what we believe wrong, insofar as doing what we believe right does not involve some act of violence against another person.
If a person can be compelled to accept the state’s notion of right and wrong regardless of his or her own conscience, then what is left of the notion of individual freedom?
There has been much discussion recently about freedom of conscience and religion in the context of religious symbols. Importantly, though freedom of conscience has to go beyond external symbols. If you believe that a Muslim woman should be free to wear a hijab at work, do you believe that that same Muslim woman should be free to abstain from participation in, say, euthanasia, if such participation conflicts with her conscientious beliefs? Conscience is a matter of what is inside your head, not just of what you put on your head.
In the last Parliament, Conservatives sought to amend the government’s euthanasia legislation to protect the conscience rights of medical practitioners. Many doctors would prefer not to participate in euthanasia. Requiring them to do so will not improve access because it will force those with a strong conscientious objection out of the profession or out of the country. This is a serious concern given the limited number of doctors practising palliative care. Fewer palliative care doctors means more pain at the end of life and less access to the accommodation and comfort that people under such pain deserve.
Notably, our efforts to protect conscience through our opposition motion were supported in a vote on May 17, 2016, by all present Conservative MPs (including Stephen Harper, Rona Ambrose, and Jason Kenney) as well as by five NDP MPs–Charlie Angus, Alistair MacGregor, Gord Johns, Sheila Malcolmson, and Erin Weir.
For good reason. In light of the failure to act at the federal level to protect conscience and ensure access to vital services, a provincial MLA has proposed legislation to affirm conscience protection here in Alberta (Bill 207). This legislation would mean no substantive change for anyone–it simply codifies into legislation what is already the rule and practise for physicians in Alberta. It does not provide a right to refuse service on the basis of identifiable characteristics–only on the basis of well-founded conscientious objection. It is a necessary legislative step because it ensures that doctors in Alberta won’t face a situation in the future where the regulatory body tries to take away conscience protection.
It is fascinating to observe how apoplectic many on the political left have become over proposals like Bill 207 to protect conscience. Apparently the road to Gilead is paved with conscience rights protection. (People who say such things have probably never actually read A Handmaid’s Tale).
Many on the left have embraced the inverted vocabulary of another dystopian novel, 1984. To them, the protection of something as basic as conscientious objections has been re-imagined as an attack on someone else’s freedom. But nobody’s right to anything should be a basis for compelling someone else to provide that thing in violation of their conscience. Unlike the Alberta NDP, this is something that at least some members of the federal NDP understood well in the last Parliament.
Diversity isn’t just about the colour of your skin or the symbols you wear. Respecting diversity means allowing people with substantively different views of life to express their opinions and to access professions. A society that does not understand this is not a free society. It is, therefore, vitally important to ensure that Charter protections for freedom of conscience are taken seriously.
Disclosure: Garnett Genuis is the Conservative MP representing Sherwood Park–Fort Saskatchewan in Alberta.
One of the most important and formative experiences for me on the road to getting into politics was competitive debate—in both high school and university. I would strongly recommend this activity as optimal preparation for anyone considering the same path.
Competitive debaters compete to defend a point of view. They very often will defend a point of view that is not their own.
Every competitive debater is taught early that an essential characteristic of good debate is something called “clash”. Clash is when arguments are made to directly counter the arguments made by the other side—to show that, even on their own terms, the other side’s arguments fail. The alternative to a good debate characterized by clash is a bad debate which resembles two ships passing in the night—essentially, debaters doing their own monologue without much reference to what others are saying.
Debate in the Canadian Parliament has come to be characterized by the near complete absence of meaningful clash. MPs deliver prepared speeches one after the other that cast arguments on their own terms and play to their own social media following. It is extremely rare that an MP would use his or her speech to deconstruct the arguments of a previous speaker.
Clash is essential in good political conversations, though, because a neutral listener has a hard time weighing out who is right and who is wrong if meaningful refutation and deconstruction of arguments does not take place. If we are to be what Edmund Burke thought Parliament should be—the “deliberative assembly of one nation”, then we must talk to one another and about one another’s arguments.
In the same speech, Burke told voters in 1774: “Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament.”
It is very important for all members of the newly constituted 43rd parliament to reflect on the importance of clash and on Burke’s advice. If we are going to work together, then we must first be able to talk together, and disagree substantively, while seeking to persuade each other to change our perspectives. People who cannot argue together well will generally struggle to work together well. We must also denominate our conversations in terms of the common good, not the narrow particular interests of one group over another.
There are a few reasons why this will be particularly difficult in the 43rd parliament. The third largest political party exists explicitly to advance the interests of one region of the country over the interests of the rest of the country. The Bloc cannot be expected to seek to advance the national interest of a nation that they seek to break apart. Though less explicitly, the governing party has and will likely continue to pursue a strategy of ignoring the development needs of western Canada. When parties run regional instead of national campaigns, they are talking past some parts of the country they think they can ignore, and only talking to parts of the country that they think they need.
It has always been interesting to me that Justin Trudeau briefly did competitive debating as a student as well. However, he stopped competing early on, noting: “I discovered I had a serious limitation for either a debater or a lawyer. I wasn’t able to argue for something I didn’t passionately believe in.” Unfortunately, an inability to dig into, understand and defend views that are not yours is not just a limitation for a debater or a lawyer—it is also a limitation for a parliamentarian and for a leader. In the privacy of one’s own mind or as an intellectual exercise, one should be able to defend things that one does not believe in order to understand and argue against those same things later. A nation as diverse as Canada particularly needs leaders who are capable of understanding and responding to different modes of thought than their own.
I hope that we will be able to raise the quality of clash in upcoming parliamentary debates, but I worry that there are a variety of cultural factors, as well as institutional ones, that are working against us. We live in an age of social media filtering, where people easily get only the information that confirms their pre-existing biases. But more broadly, our culture has for a long time lacked a common understanding of what constitutes the common good—and so we generally treat political opinions as if they were expressions of individual emotive preferences as opposed to substantive deductions about facts. There are no short-term solutions to these problems but treating opinions as opinions instead of as feelings would be a good start.
For Conservatives, we can take some pride in the fact that our support grew across the country, and that we tried to speak in terms of national ideals and projects. Inevitably those ideals and projects were more popular in some places than in others. In this new Parliament, Conservatives must maintain a truly national orientation. I will defend the interests of my own riding, but I will seek to do so in terms that are persuasive to people in other regions and in other parties. Pursuing an idea of separatism in the west, which will never come to fruition, is not a good way to be persuasive to people in other regions. It is especially dangerous in an environment where our primary complaint is the land-locking of our resources.
I am not particularly optimistic about the amount of meaningful clash that will be on display in the next Parliament, but I hope to be pleasantly surprised.
During the Conservative caucus meeting Wednesday, the CPC Members of Parliament have chosen not to remove incumbent leader Andrew Scheer from his leadership position. The meeting started at 1:00 PM and lasted for well over three hours as the CPC caucus struggled to solve structural problems from within the party. One of the four questions the caucus had to answer was whether the MPs should give themselves the power to launch this leadership review.
The CPC MPs voted in favour of electing a caucus chair. They have also voted in favour of forming a method to kick MPs out of caucus. Finally, they then decided to vote against having choosing an interim leader due to their rejection of the leadership review.
Despite Conseravtive MPs rejecting to trigger a leadership review today, Scheer will still have to face a mandatory leadership review in Toronto this April.
According to well-connected figures within the party, both Erin O’Toole and Peter Mackay were preparing to leadership bids, with O’Toole eyeing up a possible no confidence challenge during the caucus meeting. For the confidence vote to be triggered, at least 25 MPs would have been needed to sign the notice.
When The Post Millennial approached Mackay with these rumors, the former Harper minister vehemently denied them. MacKay, however, did aggressively criticize Scheer, telling reporters that issues like abortion and immigration “hung round [Scheer’s] neck like a stinking albatross.” MacKay added that Scheer’s failure to defeat Trudeau “was like having an open net and missing the net.”
In the Ottawa airport on Tuesday, Hamish Marshall, who is Scheer’s campaign manager, was confronted by CBC journalist Katie Simpson. When Simpson asked Marshall about the caucus meeting, Marshall responded that “it was none of her business.”
Disclosure: Yianni Macris formerly served as Parliamentary Assistant to CPC MP Ted Falk. He currently studies public relations.
I’ve kept rather too quiet with respect to my opinion on the election results, especially with how it turned out for the Conservative Party. Silent I can no longer be. Yes, the Conservatives won the popular vote. But I’d like to clear the air: winning the popular vote is virtually irrelevant; our electoral system is not designed like that.
Let’s take a step back for a second. Conservatives were freaking out when the Liberals had promised electoral reform, and move to proportional representation. Nobody wanted it. But now, Conservatives are harping on the fact that we won the popular vote.
Yes, if the Liberals had introduced their electoral reform, the Conservatives would’ve won more seats. But like many Tories, I’m still happy that electoral reform didn’t happen. As Conservatives, we support the preservation of our traditional parliamentary system which includes our electoral process. Conservatives need to drop the popular vote line and start working on how we will win the election in 18 to 24 months.
The result for the Conservative Party on Oct. 21 was devastating in every way possible.
While I certainly won’t go as far as to say that Andrew Scheer had the election handed to him, I will say that he was given the opportunity to wipe Justin Trudeau and his Liberal team away from forming a minority government.
First it was the Vice-Admiral Mark Norman Affair, then SNC-Lavalin, and to top it all off, brownface. That’s not even mentioning the prior scandals before 2019. In democracies similar to ours, this would result not only in the loss of an election, but an impeachment (or something similar), along with a possible prosecution.
Scheer failed to capitalize.
Credit to Mr. Scheer for wiping the Liberals out of Alberta and Saskatchewan, making gains in British Columbia and Manitoba, and picking up a few seats in the East Coast.
But it’s not enough. Not enough for the 6 million plus Canadians that voted for their local Conservative candidates. Canadians deserved better than Justin Trudeau.
There was only one problem. Andrew Scheer couldn’t give Canadians the better that they both wanted and deserved.
Peter MacKay said it best: “To use a good Canadian analogy, it was like having a breakaway on an open net and missing the net.”
He is right. Politics is no different than hockey. Our leaders are like captains. Our candidates and members are no different than the rest of the players, and our staff teams are like the coaches, managers, trainers — essential for everything to come together on game day. On every team, there is a diversity of individuals. Each and every one of them with different opinions, faiths, ethnicities, etc.
Andrew Scheer didn’t lose because of his personal beliefs. He didn’t lose because of his views on abortion or same-sex marriage. He just didn’t know how to respond in the right way when asked. He knew he would be asked about his views. The fact that he wasn’t prepared for it (or just had a bad plan, perhaps) is grounds for concern amongst party members and supporters.
He chose to dance around every question with “this is the law of the land and will not change…” until Oct. 3. He eventually said that his “personal position has always been open and consistent. I am personally pro-life but I’ve also made the commitment that as leader of this party it is my responsibility to ensure that we do not re-open this debate, that we focus on issues that unite our party and unite Canadians.”
I actually don’t see anything wrong with that. Even Prime Minister Trudeau used to hold that same belief, as do many Liberal MPs.
Unfortunately, he missed out on one of the golden rules of politics: define yourself before your opponent defines you.
He was late to that battle, despite plenty of advance notice. And his weak response to the media didn’t help either.
He did a fine job of defining Trudeau prior to and going into the election, yet he flopped at defining himself.
There was the narrative that Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives were coming to take your right to abortion and gay marriage. Any individual with a good understanding of politics would understand that this was bunk.
But you can’t expect to change a narrative at the eleventh hour and hope for the best. That’s extremely irresponsible.
His team didn’t follow the playbook. When the team loses, the responsibility falls on the captain and head coach. A loss this devastating would result in a new captain and a new coach in any sport, especially with so much riding on the game.
It has been suggested by some Conservatives that we need a new leader. I believe we do, but not because of the personal beliefs that Andrew Scheer holds.
If that was the case, then that would ultimately disqualify the majority of former Prime Ministers from ever running for office today. The notion that an individual must conform to certain views in order to be deemed “qualified” for higher office, a political equivalent of a chilling effect is created. It inherently punishes someone for views that they are entitled to not just as individuals, but as Canadians.
That chilling effect is detrimental to our democracy and to diversity of public opinion.
Conservatives who believe that we need a new leader who holds certain personal views should try to see it this way.
Yes, a new leader should be picked, but for the right reasons. What is clear is that we need someone who has a much better communications strategy. A team that has everything planned out. A team that creates a playbook, and makes necessary adaptations should things go wrong. Someone who will define himself before their opponent defines them.