Briefing note: A form letter from Conservative MPs

Feb 7, 2011

From: Ian Morrison
To: FRIENDS supporters

In recent days thousands of FRIENDS supporters have received variations on the following email form letter from their Conservative Members of Parliament:

"Thank you for writing to me about the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).  I appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns regarding government funding for the CBC with me.

"I am pleased to have this opportunity to update you on our investment in the CBC. It is our Government’s policy that the CBC is and will remain Canada’s national public broadcaster in English and French.

'In the last election we made specific promises to either maintain or increase funding to the CBC and we have delivered. In fact our Conservative Government has increased support to CBC in every one of our budgets.  This year the CBC is receiving $1.1 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money. This is the highest amount of funding ever given to the CBC – more than any government in Canadian history.

"By comparison the last Liberal Government delivered $414 million in budget cuts to the CBC, amounting to 4,000 jobs lost.  I would also point out that the NDP has voted against funding for the CBC every year we have been in office.

"Thank you again for taking the time to write.  Please accept my best wishes."

The origin of this form letter is the Prime Minister's Office, which routinely sends to each Conservative MP drafts on topical subjects so that  they can send out a consistent 'party line'.

Here are a few comments on this form letter:

  • Note the absence of any reference to Dean Del Mastro's original comment: "Maybe it's time we get out of the broadcasting business".
  • The statements that the Conservative government has increased funding for CBC in each of its budgets, and that the current grant to the CBC is larger than that provided by any predecessor government are false and ignore inflation:

Change in Parliamentary Appropriation to the CBC

  • As you can see from this chart, the comment about the Chrétien Liberal government is correct.
  • The comment about the NDP is misleading because what the NDP did was vote against the budget. They were no more voting against "funding for the CBC" than they were against old age pensions or the Governor General's salary.

In summary, the ethics behind this form letter are questionable, but that ethical deficit probably originated with the Prime Minister's Office, rather than the individual MPs who signed the email.

Here is a link to a compendium regarding the Conservative hidden agenda for public broadcasting and cultural sovereignty: