OTTAWA (Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms) — Last Friday, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms jointly submitted, with the Democracy Fund and the Freedom Corp protestor group, a proposal to have Catherine Tait, CEO of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), testify before the Public Order Emergency Commission.
The Order establishing the Public Order Emergency Commission, dated April 25, 2022, mandates that the Commissioner investigate “the impact, role and sources of misinformation and disinformation.”
On Wednesday, October 19, Superintendent Pat Morris, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) intelligence officer in charge of the Provincial Operations Intelligence Bureau, testified, “I was concerned by comments made publicly by public figures and in the media that I believe weren’t premised in fact.”
“The media can provide editorials, and editorial boards can have stances. I believe that a lot of people were making assertions that weren’t accurate,” continued Supt. Morris. “I did not see information that substantiated what was being said publicly and via the media, and I found that the subjective assertions sensationalized – yes – and exacerbated conflict.”
“Given that claims made in news reports were used to substantiate government requests to the Court, such as Ontario’s application for a restraint order, and given that Supt. Morris testified that the news reports were inconsistent with his best intelligence, the Commission should hear from individuals who can testify about the media’s approach to covering the Freedom Convoy protest,” wrote Justice Centre lawyer Hatim Kheir in response. “We propose that the Commission call Catherine Tait as she is the head of Canada’s national broadcaster, which is one of the largest sources of news in the country.”
If called, Kheir indicated that the Justice Centre intends to cross-examine Tait on “journalistic standards, the CBC’s approach to covering the Freedom Convoy protest, rigor in verifying reports, and the organization’s approach to corrections when stories turned out to be untrue.”
“The Commission is mandated to investigate misinformation that led to the declaration of emergency. The biggest source of misinformation was the corporate press,” stated Kheir. “Supt. Morris’ evidence made it clear that members of the media were reporting unsubstantiated and false claims. As the head of Canada’s national broadcaster, Ms. Tait should answer questions on her organization’s role in perpetuating misinformation.”
Reprinted with permission from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.