The Conservatives are hauling the CBC onto the carpet this fall to explain why it is fighting the access-to-information law in the courts, part of increased scrutiny of the public broadcaster’s spending and practices by the new majority government.
The move comes at the same time as the Conservative party surveys its members on whether CBC funding is good value for the taxpayer.
The battle centres around the interpretation of a section of the Access to Information Act that exempts the CBC from having to divulge material involving its journalistic, creative or programming activities.
Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault last week predicted the matter would be before the courts for years — something that does not sit well with Conservatives.
The CBC’s record on access-to-information requests has been flagged by Legault, who has said much of the problem with the response rate centres around the corporation’s interpretation of what is exempted.
She also noted last week that the CBC was inundated with requests when the corporation first became subject to the Act in 2007, and struggled to keep up with a backlog.
Nearly 400 of those first requests had been initiated by a law firm working with SunMedia, a division of Quebecor. Quebecor’s French-language television networks compete directly with the CBC for viewers in Quebec.
Quebecor’s English-language media holdings, including Sun TV and the SunMedia newspapers, have featured regular criticism of the CBC and have called for it to be defunded.