CWB: Hypocrisy

The WFP had this little gem of an article on the CWB battle.

First, notice that the 7 wheat farmers elected to the House of Commons all belong to the same party. They also all support the elimination of the CWB.

So, which politicians should we trust on the CWB: the western wheat farmers who were elected by rural populations, or an urban union man?

Second, that the opposition parties would even have the gall to argue that eliminating the CWB will provide benefits to wheat farmers so as to better position themselves in voting against it speaks a lot.

As for the mandatory CWB issue as a whole the only question worth asking is this:

Should farmers be imprisoned for selling their own crops?


CBC and Quebecor: Dishonesty

In case you're not up on the going-ons of Canadian media, Quebecor (the owners of the Sun News media chain) and CBC have been having a spat recently.

Sun News has been pressing a freedom of information request on CBC, so they will open up their finances. The CBC, the paragons of public media that they are, have been stonewalling these requests, and have been losing.

Sun News has also been complaining regularly about the $1-billion or so in subsidies the CBC gets each year.

So anyway, the CBC has released a press release accusing Quebecor of receiving $500-million in subsidies over the last three years.

First, we'll skip over the fact that the subsidy is only about one-sixth of what CBC has received over that same period.

We'll investigate the claims:

The biggest chunk of the subsidy is $333-million in spectrum cost that, according to CBC, Quebecor saved in 2008.

It is true that Quebecor was in a restricted auction and won spectrum in that auction, along with other media companies. They also probably saved some money.

On the other hand, this was nothing special that was created for Quebecor. In 2008, Canada decided to increase competition in the television market, so, when they had an auction, they reserved some of the spectrum for new entrants. Quebecor, and Globalive, participated and won this auction.

This was not a direct subsidy, it was not something made to benefit Quebecor, and Quebecor received no public funds.

The second largest chunk, is $117-million in production tax credits Quebecor has received. This is a subsidy and Quebecor did receive the money, but these tax credits are available to anybody making Canadian content and meeting the conditions.

This was not a special subsidy for Quebecor, it was not a direct subsidy, and Quebecor received no public funds.

In total, these two make up $450-million of this supposed "subsidy". I'm not going to waste time on the smaller subsidies, because this makes up 90% of the supposed "subsidy". If you're interested you can find Quebecor's initial response here, which addresses other claims.

On to my point, it is fundamentally dishonest of CBC to compare $450-million in tax credits and savings at an auction, in which Quebecor received no public funds and which were/are freely accessible to anybody, to a $1-billion/year in public funds given directly to a specific corporation.

As for accountability, CBC is a public corporation, their books should be open to all, without hassle. If they want to continue to be a public corporation, then they should realize that we, the people, own them and they are accountable to us. They should not be spending public money to stonewall access to information requests.

Quebecor is a private corporation, they are accountable to their owners, and their owners alone.

There is no valid comparison in accountability and no valid comparison of the "subsidies". CBC is lying and in the wrong.

BTW: I am against the tax credits and any public subsidies to media coporations, be they to Quebecor, the CBC, or anyone else.