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Tories blast 'agenda-driven' CBC gun-registry coverage

Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable

The Globe and Mail

Stephen Harper's Conservative can't seem to get enough of the culture wars. They're at it again, complaining to the public broadcaster about its recent coverage of the long-gun registry.

A little CBC bashing never hurts Conservative fundraising coffers. This time they're upset with a story last week suggesting the powerful American gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, was helping to fight the battle against the long-gun registry in Canada.

The Tories sent a stinging letter to CBC ombudsman Vince Carlin on Sept. 17. "I am writing to express my concern with the blatant agenda-driven reporting by Canada's national broadcaster," writes Jenni Byrne, the director of political operations for the Conservative Party.

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She is one of the most senior women in the party and is said to have the ear of the Prime Minister. "This type of reporting is neither objective nor accurate and does a disservice to all Canadians. "

Ms. Byrne is asking the CBC to review its practices in "reporting facts, exercising objectivity and giving equal consideration to all sides of a debate when reporting on a particular issue."

In her two-page letter, she references a report that aired Sept. 13, characterizing it as the CBC seeking "to portray domestic efforts to end the long-gun registry as being influenced by a foreign organization."

She accuses the corporation of supplying no evidence to back their claims, suggesting this "selective reporting is clearly an attempt to sway viewers to one side of the debate - the side preferred by the CBC."

And Ms. Byrne does not stop there. Noting the CBC receives a "not insignificant subsidy" from taxpayers, she says "Canadians deserve better."

As well, she invokes the culture war battle from earlier this year when the Tories accused the CBC of portraying "known Liberal Frank Graves as a non-partisan commentator on politics." Mr. Graves is a pollster for EKOS Research; he does not do work for the Liberal Party.

"The CBC itself should strive for higher journalistic standards, rather than use its platform to take a political position that mirrors the partisan position of any political party, whether by coincidence or not," she wrote.

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A CBC spokesman says the letter has been received by the ombudsman.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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