(Ottawa) A few days after Pierre Poilievre’s triumph as leader of the Conservative Party, CBC/Radio-Canada CEO Catherine Tait sent him a letter congratulating him and inviting him to a meeting. The opposition leader, one of whose flagship commitments is to stop funding CBC, refused, arousing the ire of the boss of the public broadcaster.
In a courteous letter dated September 16, 2022, Catherine Tait congratulates the politician on his victory, an “impressive achievement”, and invites him to discuss the Crown corporation’s mandate with her, citing his “worthiness” in “the era of heightened polarization in the country”.
The weeks passed. And the tone of the subsequent missive changed drastically.
It was that Catherine Tait was refused; the leader’s office declined his invitation.
“Since during your leadership campaign you publicly pledged to ‘defund CBC’, I would have hoped that spending time understanding the organization might have been helpful,” reads the letter dated November 29, 2022. , which La Presse obtained under the Access to Information Act.
The CEO appointed in 2018 goes on to decry the practices of the Conservative Party.
Arguing that these salvos ignore “the breadth and value” of which Canadians benefit thanks to the public broadcaster and “the consequences” of cutting its budget, the leader concludes by saying she hopes that her recipient will reconsider her decision. to sulk a meeting.
The Conservative leader’s office confirmed that he did not wish to honor the invitation. When La Presse asked for details on the motives behind the decision, a link was provided to a tweet posted on February 7 from Pierre Poilievre’s account.
“CBC’s overpaid CEO doesn’t even try to pretend she’s impartial. She launched a partisan attack on me, proving my claim that the 1.2 billion crown corporation is a mouthpiece for Justin Trudeau,” it read.
This message caps an image that highlights quotes from Catherine Tait, who had earlier delivered to The Globe and Mail. “There’s a lot of CBC bashing going on right now – somewhat fueled by the Leader of the Opposition,” she said then.
“I think they feel that CBC is a mouthpiece for the Liberal government,” the CBC/Radio-Canada executive also ventured to say.
The Leader of the Opposition’s tweet contains a link to a petition promoting the promise that usually stirred crowds the most during his Conservative Party leadership race: cut off funding to CBC.
Upon taking office, the Liberals turned the taps back on to replenish the broadcaster’s coffers, after years of cutbacks under the government of Stephen Harper. Additional investments of $675 million over five years have been made.
The Trudeau government then appointed Catherine Tait to head CBC/Radio-Canada.
Last Friday, the office of Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez did not respond to an email from La Presse about Pierre Poilievre’s decision to turn his nose up at a meeting with the CEO.
Full professor at the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa, Geneviève Tellier believes that Pierre Poilievre was “faithful to his character” by refusing to see Catherine Tait.
The fact remains that Ms. Tait’s exit was not the happiest, judges the political scientist: “You have to show a certain neutrality, a non-partisanship. And getting involved in public and political debate may not help the cause of CBC/Radio-Canada. »
From what Pierre Poilievre has reported so far, public support for Radio-Canada would not go by the wayside like that of its Anglophone counterpart. In press briefings, he garlanded CBC journalists more than those of Radio-Canada.