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CBC Mandate Push Exposes Liberal Fears Of Losing Backing


The CBC has long been criticized as a mouthpiece for the ruling Liberal Party. But with Justin Trudeau’s fortunes fading, the Liberals seem poised to lose their grip on their vaunted media champion.

Recent comments from Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge have exposed the Liberals’ growing panic over the CBC’s allegiances in the face of surging Conservative popularity. As Pierre Poilievre rides a wave of public support, St-Onge is desperately trying to retain state media backing by rapid reforms before an anticipated government changeover.

This clumsy effort to entrench Liberal control reveals the deeper reality – that Trudeau’s party knows the game is up. Even the PM’s own ministers see the writing on the wall with the Tories ascendant. The Liberals’ paranoid maneuvers to keep the CBC on side are an admission of their waning power.

As polls swing towards the Conservatives, the Liberals now fear losing their main media mouthpiece. With the CBC potentially shifting coverage to court its likely new masters, Trudeau’s team scrambles to maintain their failsafe propaganda outlet. But their actions only highlight the inevitability of an embarrassing defeat.

Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge said in a recent year-end interview that the role of the public broadcaster CBC should be redefined before the next federal election. She stated that now is the time for her Liberal government to begin working with Canadians and experts to determine what the CBC should look like over the next year and decade.

“And I really want to achieve that before the next election, to make sure that our public broadcaster is (as) well-positioned as possible for the future,” St-Onge told The Canadian Press.

The heritage minister’s comments come amid concerns by the Liberals that Canada’s news and cultural sectors would be at serious risk should the Conservatives under leader Pierre Poilievre form government after the next election.

St-Onge said the Conservatives “have shown they think that the arts and cultural sector should be left to the free market.” She warned that “with foreign companies and foreign entities that take so much space online, and in Hollywood and in San Francisco, it means that we would basically abandon our cultural sector in Canada.”

St-Onge’s warnings about Conservatives ring hollow. These statements are but a hypocritical cover for the Liberals’ real fear – losing CBC support. St-Onge disingenuously warns that foreign entities online would undermine Canadian culture under the Conservatives. 

Yet her own Liberals actively destroyed culture and free speech by weaponizing the CBC to enhance their image and attack critics. Their supposed concern for culture seems mere pretense.

In truth, the Liberals appear preoccupied with securing the CBC’s backing as Poilievre’s Tories surge ahead. St-Onge barely conceals her party’s anxiety about the broadcaster shifting allegiance.

Her exaggerated CBC defenses expose this naked self-interest. The Grits aren’t worried about culture overall, but only losing their media champion. St-Onge’s urgent entrenching of the CBC mandate gives the game away.

With the Conservatives polling strongly, the Liberals are desperate to retain state media support, the last bastion of their crumbling platform. St-Onge’s rhetoric cannot disguise the bald-faced move to protect a vital mouthpiece, even as they ignore wider cultural needs.

The minister’s statements ultimately reveal a paranoid party whose sole true fear is losing CBC control. Her feigned concerns for culture and media ring hollow next to this transparent self-preservation.

While the Liberals clearly aim to maintain their grip on the CBC, the Conservatives have staked out their own position on the public broadcaster. 

The Conservatives under Poilievre have taken a hard line by promising to defund CBC English programming entirely and repurpose its Toronto headquarters. However, they seem willing to continue supporting the francophone arm of the organization.

In response to St-Onge, Conservative heritage critic Rachael Thomas said “Canadians need an independent and free media, not a biased broadcaster that receives a billion taxpayer dollars every year to act as a mouthpiece for the Liberal government.”

St-Onge countered that the CBC’s independence from government is protected by law under the Broadcasting Act. She also argued that preserving only the French-language service while cutting English programming is “absolutely unachievable” because the two are deeply interconnected through shared resources and infrastructure.

The heritage minister’s statements appear intended to lay the groundwork to update the CBC’s mandate before the next election, as the Liberals have been promising for years amid declining revenues for Canada’s news industry. This includes recently announced cuts at the public broadcaster itself, which is dealing with a $125 million budget shortfall by eliminating 600 jobs and leaving 200 vacancies unfilled.

St-Onge acknowledged the impact on employee morale, saying “There’s a lot of uncertainty and unpredictability. People weren’t informed exactly how and if those cuts do happen, how it will be done and achieved. So it’s a difficult time.”

The comments suggest the Liberals aim to move quickly to redefine the CBC’s purpose and bolster its funding before the next election. St-Onge said “I think it’s time we do it now because the Liberal party comes from the perspective that we do need a strong public broadcaster, and we will continue to support it.”

And supporting it they shall, as no one else would paint the Liberals in a good light like the CBC does, but even now the Liberals are at risk of losing their prized CBC, as the broadcaster might start supporting the Conservatives instead in light of the shifting public opinion, the CBC is probably already starting to lay the groundwork to support the new Conservative government, so as not to lose their extensive funding once the Liberals are out of office.

St-Onge’s whole statement could be interpreted as a preemptive defense of the CBC in case of a Conservative victory. St-Onge explicitly warned that the public broadcaster would be “at serious risk” under Poilievre’s leadership. Her statements emphasize the need to update the CBC’s mandate as an election issue, framing Conservative plans as a threat to Canada’s media and culture.

St-Onge’s call to redefine the CBC’s mandate before the next election clearly exposes deep-seated Liberal fears about their political fortunes.

Most glaringly, her rushed timeline indicates the governing Liberals have already conceded they cannot win if Pierre Poilievre leads the Conservatives into the coming vote. St-Onge is openly acknowledging that the Liberal grip on power is tenuous by pushing hurried changes to the public broadcaster. This shows the Liberals see themselves as destined to lose to Poilievre’s populism.

Essentially, the Liberals seem to believe their defeat is inevitable based on current polls and public sentiment favoring the Conservatives. St-Onge’s urgency reveals a gloom-and-doom outlook that the Liberals cannot possibly overcome Poilievre’s momentum. Her preemptive efforts to shore up the CBC against promised Conservative cuts assumes her own party will be unable to stop its apparently unavoidable ouster.

Additionally, St-Onge’s warnings about the CBC’s loyalties shifting exposes Liberal worries about losing their media ally. Her remarks suggest deep concerns that the public broadcaster tends to back anticipated winners. With Conservatives leading in polls right now, the Liberals clearly fear the CBC pivoting support to Poilievre even before the election.

By this anxious uncalculated statement, St-Onge is openly acknowledging the assumption that the CBC aligns with probable victors. By rushing to entrench the CBC’s independence, she aims to curb any pro-Conservative tilt from the broadcaster as it prepares for an anticipated new government. This indicates the Liberals expect the CBC to instinctively cozy up to the Conservatives, and want to mitigate that before it happens.

Ultimately, St-Onge’s stated urgency in redefining the CBC’s mandate stems from Liberal pessimism about retaining power, and paranoia about losing a key media voice. Her comments expose a governing party both fatalistic about its chances, and desperate to cling to advantages while it still can.

St-Onge’s rushed efforts to reshape the CBC reveal the deeper truth – that the Liberals themselves see the writing on the wall for the next election. 

Even Trudeau’s own government seems to recognize his time is running out. This panicked move to retain their media ally betrays an inner admission that the Liberals cannot overcome the Conservative momentum. Rather than suffer embarrassment at the polls, Trudeau should opt to bow out early. 

But his party’s machinations around the CBC demonstrate they already know the game is up. Clinging to power now will only delay the inevitable humiliation. The Liberals’ actions speak louder than words – they know Trudeau’s days are numbered.

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