CBC CEO Catherine Tait says CBC is a “beacon of truth in a sea of fake news”. But not everyone agrees with her.
For example, a growing number of Conservative MPs are calling out CBC over what they see as biased coverage of the Israel/Gaza conflict. They complain, for example, that CBC insists on calling Hamas soldiers “militants” instead of the “terrorists” that Canada’s designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization says they are. They also complain that CBC has yet to correct its egregiously incorrect reporting on the Gaza hospital bombing. CBC still insists on falsely blaming Israel for the explosion at the hospital, while it has now been proven to be the work of the Hamas terrorists.
Clearly, the CBC has a certain story that they want to tell on that conflict, and they won’t let the facts get in the way.
Claims about biased reporting by CBC are nothing new. And nowhere is CBC’s biased reporting more obvious than on indigenous issues.
This strong bias became evident in CBC’s reporting on the Colten Boushie/Gerald Stanley case in 2016. Gerald Stanley, a Saskatchewan farmer, shot and killed Colten Boushie, a young indigenous man from the Red Pheasant Reserve, during the course of what was proven to be the equivalent of a rural home invasion. An intoxicated Boushie, with a loaded rifle beside him, and friends had brazenly entered Stanley’s farm in broad daylight and proceeded to steal a vehicle.
But that’s not how CBC reported the incident. From the beginning of their reporting until after a trial had determined conclusively that Boushie and his colleagues were engaged in criminal activity when they entered Stanley’s property, CBC insisted on portraying Boushie as someone wrongfully killed – because he was indigenous- after he innocently sought help to have his tire fixed.
CBC continued to stick with that invented story long after it was exposed as false.
Here too, the CBC had a certain story they wanted to tell, and they didn’t allow the facts to get in their way.
So, when the announcement was made in Kamloops in May, 2021 that the remains of 215 former students of the Kamloops Indian Residential School had been found, buried in an old apple orchard on the school grounds, it is not surprising that CBC bias would skew its reporting.
CBC proceeded to make the false claim that “graves containing the bodies of indigenous children”, “human remains” and similar terms had been found.
It was obvious even at the time the claim was made that it was not true. No “remains”, “bodies”, or “graves” were ever found there, and none have been found since. Only “soil disturbances” were detected. Moreover, the embarrassingly small amount of evidence originally put forward to support the original claim has subsequently been shown to be even weaker than first suggested. In fact, it is now clear that the “soil disturbances” detected by the radar operator, Sarah Beaulieu -the only evidence put forward to support the claim- are much more likely to be the clay tiles of a 1924 septic trench than graves. CBC did not do even basic investigation before asserting the false claims to be true.
While the CBC has since changed its reporting from its earlier reckless claims of “bodies”, “human remains”, and “graves,” to “probable graves”, “potential graves”, “suspected graves” or “possible graves” they have not yet reported on any of the hundreds of essays, documents and evidentiary findings that have cast extreme doubt on the claim that there are any graves in that apple orchard. Simply put, CBC is doing everything possible to support a claim that is increasingly being exposed as false. Worse, although they have no evidence to support the claim that there are graves in that apple orchard, they continue to use terms such as “potential” and “probable” to describe radar blips that could just as easily be tree roots, rocks, previous excavations, or almost any other naturally occurring phenomenon. “Potential” and “possible” are meaningless terms in this context.”.
In the meantime, CBC spent many hours exposing Buffy St Marie, and other “Pretendians”. They obviously have the talent and resources to dig deeply into disputed claims. So, why haven’t they done even a little bit of research into the very shaky Kamloops claim?
Imagine a Fifth Estate program that spent even a fraction of the money they used to expose Pretendians asking questions, such as: “If there are 215 missing indigenous children at Kamloops, and thousands of others across Canada, why is there no record of even a single indigenous parent claiming that their child disappeared from a residential school? Why is there no record of a police report or newspaper article about any missing indigenous children? If the 51 indigenous children who died at the Kamloops school were secretly buried in the Kamloops school ground apple orchard, as suggested by CBC reports, why do their death certificates show that their deaths were properly documented, and that they were given Christian burials on their home reserves? These are only a few of the questions that could be asked on what would probably be the most watched Fifth Estate in history. Why doesn’t CBC do that?
And one final question: Why, if the CBC is the “beacon of hope against fake news” are they working so hard to keep the truth about the biggest fake news story in Canadian history – the Kamloops 215 claim – from the Canadian public?
Again, the answer seems to be that CBC wants the story to be about indigenous children killed and secretly buried by priests and other colonizers. That is the story they seem determined to tell. So they ignore the facts.
If CBC is serious about becoming a “beacon of hope in a sea of fake news” it should shine that beacon on itself.
Brian Giesbrecht, retired judge, is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy