An Erin O’Toole Conservative government would defund CBC digital and cut the CBC English TV budget by half, the federal leadership candidate says.
“Our plan will phase out TV advertising with a goal to fully privatize CBC English TV by the end of our first mandate,” O’Toole says in a new video obtained by Postmedia to be released publicly Friday.
O’Toole promised to preserve CBC Radio and Radio Canada, which he said fulfilled an important role serving Francophones and Quebecers in their own language, but said CBC as a whole is in need of modernization and reform.
“It’s 2020. Canada has changed. The CBC must change,” he says.
The Durham MP is one of several candidates competing to succeed Andrew Scheer as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
O’Toole, who’s campaigning under the slogan “True Blue Leadership,” says in his video the national broadcaster is stuck in the past, no longer needed to connect Canadians to each other and the world now that the vast majority have cell phones.
“They carry their own broadcast studio in their pocket and have unlimited media streaming options 24/7,” he said.
Despite this, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau boosted the CBC budget by more than $600 million and spent a similar amount bailing out media outlets that compete with the CBC for advertising revenue, he said.
“$600 million to fix the problems he caused with his other $600 million,” O’Toole says.
The video uses the Canadian version of Family Feud, which airs on CBC, as an example of how far the broadcaster has strayed from its mandate of promoting Canadian stories.
The O’Toole leadership election plank lands shortly after a Blacklock’s Reporter story which says the CBC television network’s loss of licensing rights to Hockey Night in Canada has cost it more than $2 billion in advertising, according an internal federal memo.
Scheer has previously been critical of the CBC, complaining about what he called a focus on international stories at the expense of Canadian content.
A mandate letter by Trudeau dated in December asks Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault to ensure that CBC/Radio-Canada broadcast more local news and open up its digital platform.