A video of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was edited by the Facebook site Canada Proud in such a way as to appear that he was saying that he had bought favourable coverage with a journalism bailout announced in March’s federal budget.
It stops at a point that implies that he was speaking unironically, rather than as the leadup to a joke.
In the edited version, Trudeau says:
“You sometimes hear about Liberal bias in the media these days, how they are constantly letting our government off the hook for no good reason. Frankly, I think that’s insulting. It’s clear that they let us off the hook for a very good reason — because we paid them $600 million.”
Trudeau was speaking in May at the Press Gallery Dinner in Ottawa.
What’s omitted, though, is that Trudeau was leading up to a punchline.
“You don’t get stellar headlines like these without greasing the wheels a bit,” he continued, moving to the visual element of the gag, headlines reading:
- Justin Trudeau is tampering with Canada’s brand (Toronto Star)
- Justin Trudeau et le degré zéro de la réflexion (Journal de Montreal)
- Trudeau has lost the moral authority to govern (Globe and Mail)
It was true that if the Liberals had sought to buy favourable coverage, the headlines weren’t an example of it working all that well.
“Justin Trudeau should ask the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament immediately, with a general election to follow in April,” growled Globe columnist John Ibbitson in the last story linked. “Instead, he and his remaining advisers will likely hunker down and hope that time dulls the public outrage over his acts.”
Ibbitson went on to say: “A prime minister who has been accused of such abuses by his own former attorney-general should no longer have the confidence of the House of Commons. This government should fall. … Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s testimony Wednesday was so utterly damning that the Liberals no longer have a moral mandate to govern.”
Here’s the unedited video, starting from the same point that Canada Proud’s did:
Canada Proud founder Jeff Ballingall rejected the idea that the video had been misleadingly edited.
“The point of the video is that he is being flippant about the bailout to the media that’s very dangerous to our democracy,” he said.
“The point of the video is to showcase that Trudeau thinks it’s funny… and his bribe of the media is something to be laughed at.”
“The Toronto Star alone gets $115,000 EVERY WEEK,” text on the video told readers.
Ballingall said his source for this was the True North Institute, a conservative site. The True North Institute’s item on this, published Aug. 1, cites the Ottawa-based Blacklock’s Reporter, which in turn cites Torstar’s second-quarter report to shareholders, which was published the previous day.
Torstar is the Toronto Star’s parent company.
In that document, investors were told that Torstar had had a benefit of $3 million in tax credits under the program in the first half of the year, which does work out to $115,000 a week, more or less.
However, that misses the distinction between the Star and Torstar, which also owns six other Ontario dailies, a number of free commuter papers and over 80 weekly local newspapers.
As of Thursday, the video has had 110,000 views, 2,200 reactions, 850 comments and over 5,700 shares.
The $600 million, five-year commitment consists mostly of tax credits. It’s open to “qualified Canadian journalism organizations“; there has been considerable debate over who should or should not be included under that category.
(Global News, along with other private broadcasters, is not eligible for the fund.)