Alberta Prime Minister Danielle Smith said she was considering whether to continue the interview with CBC after the state broadcaster published a false and damaging report and refused to retract it for months during the election period.
He made the comments in an exclusive interview with Rebel News President Ezra Levant one week after CBC admitted it could not prove Smith’s office contacted Crown prosecutors regarding the Covid-19 allegations – an allegation the outlet first reported in January using an anonymous source.
“I have to talk to my team about that,” Smith said after Levant repeatedly asked if he would continue to do interviews with the publication.
“I have to consider whether they are not ready to be fair, accurate and balanced. If they really were just interviewing me for ammunition to be the official opposition, I have to remember that every time I answer a question from CBC.
The Prime Minister said he would continue to take CBC questions during the news conference because he wanted to be “the type of person” who takes questions from everyone. The comments may have been aimed slightly at NDP Alberta leader Rachel Notley who refused to answer questions from most independent media during the election campaign for the province of Alberta.
Levant said CBC’s misreporting amounted to election interference.
Smith said his office provided the outlet with an opportunity to correct the records after an independent civil service investigation found no evidence of emails between his office and Crown prosecutors.
“They smeared me, they smeared all of my office staff, they smeared independent public service, they smeared Crown prosecutors, and they gave my opponents the ammunition to smear me again,” Smith said.
In January, the state broadcaster relied on anonymous sources to report that Smith’s office contacted Crown prosecutors and pressed them on Covid-19 and Coutts’ border blockade allegations. Smith, his office, and Crown prosecutors denied the allegations, and CBC later updated the story to say they had not seen the email.
In May, during the election campaign for the province of Alberta, the narrative was further unraveled when an ethics report from Commissioner Marguerite Trussler was released and found “no evidence of such emails”.
In light of the report, CBC said it re-interviewed its sources who were unable to confirm that the email initially described was sent directly from Smith’s office to Crown.
“In doing so, we have updated this story and related pieces, removing references to direct contact between the prime minister’s office and the prosecution – which the prime minister vehemently rejects,” reads a long editor’s note at the top of the article.
“CBC News regrets reporting direct contact via email.”
CBC chief of public affairs Chuck Thompson told True North that it took the publication until July to update the story because “simply put, that’s the time it takes to do our due diligence.”
Last week, Smith said he had “been vindicated”.
“Now that CBC has expressed regret for its inaccurate reporting and the people of Alberta know the truth, I consider matters with CBC closed,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Additionally, I ask the NDP Alberta to admit their wrongdoing as well, and retract and apologize for spreading this misinformation.”