Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she’s weighing whether to continue interviews with the CBC after the state broadcaster published a false and damaging report and refused to retract it for months over an election period.
She made the comments in an exclusive interview with Rebel News President Ezra Levant one week after the CBC admitted it could not prove that Smith’s office contacted Crown prosecutors regarding Covid-19 charges — an allegation the outlet first reported in January using anonymous sources.
“I’ll have to talk to my team about that,” Smith said after Levant repeatedly asked if she’ll continue doing interviews with the publication.
“I do have to consider if they aren’t prepared to be fair, accurate, and balanced. If they’re really only interviewing me in order to get ammunition to be the official opposition, I’m going to have to keep that in mind every time I answer a question from the CBC.”
The Premier said she will continue to take the CBC’s questions during press conferences because she wants to be “the type of person” who takes questions from everyone. The comment was perhaps a slight at Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley who refused to take questions from most independent media outlets during the Alberta provincial election campaign.
Levant said the CBC’s erroneous reporting amounts to election interference.
Smith said her office gave the outlet an opportunity to correct the record after an independent investigation from the civil service found no evidence of emails between her office and Crown prosecutors.
“They smeared me, they smeared all my office staff, they smeared the independent public service, they smeared the Crown prosecutors, and they gave ammunition to my opponents to smear me some more,” Smith said.
In January, the state broadcaster relied on anonymous sources to report that Smith’s office contacted Crown prosecutors and pressured them on Covid-19 and the Coutts border blockade charges. Smith, her office, and Crown prosecutors denied the allegations, and the CBC later updated the story to say it had not viewed the emails in question.
In May, during the Alberta provincial election campaign, the narrative further unfolded when an ethics report from Commissioner Marguerite Trussler was released finding “no evidence of such an email.”
In light of the report, the CBC said it re-interviewed its sources who could not confirm that emails originally described were sent directly from Smith’s office to the Crown.
“As such, we have updated this story and related pieces, removing references to direct contact between the premier’s office and prosecutors – which the premier has vehemently denied,” reads a lengthy editor’s note atop the article.
“CBC News regrets reporting direct contact by email.”
The CBC head of public affairs Chuck Thompson told True North the publication took till July to update the story because “simply stated, that’s the time it took to do our due diligence.”
Last week, Smith said she’s “been vindicated.”
“Now that CBC has expressed regret for its inaccurate reporting and Albertans know the truth, I consider the matter with the CBC closed,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Additionally, I’m asking the Alberta NDP to acknowledge their error also, and retract and apologize for spreading this misinformation.”