Broadcasters air lies about Thomas Mulcair because the CRTC allows it
Whenever I turn on CKNW Radio or News 1130, I seem to hear a vicious Conservative attack ad about NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's "carbon tax".
Nothing gets me flipping the dial more quickly than this message.
That's because the ad is a bald-faced lie and any station that airs it does not deserve my time.
Mulcair has never supported a carbon tax, much to the chagrin of some environmentalists. It's not just me saying that he opposes a carbon tax. Maclean's columnist Paul Wells has also pointed out that the Conservatives are lying when they say Mulcair backs a carbon tax.
But the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, which is a private-sector-run subcontractor to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, does nothing to stop these lies from repeatedly going out over the airwaves.
And that's undermining Canadian democracy.
Another self-regulatory body, Advertising Standards Canada, also hasn't done anything about the carbon-tax message, even though its code says that ads "must not contain inaccurate, deceptive or otherwise misleading claims".
I've previously reported that the Canadian Association of Broadcasters asked the federal broadcast regulator for the right to govern broadcast standards in 1986.
Five years later, the CRTC granted this wish.
So now when a private radio station airs a bald-faced lie—such as the one about Mulcair promoting a carbon tax—the public is encouraged to go to the industry-funded organzation. The very companies that make whopping sums of money from these outrageously false ads are, in effect, the referees.
That's a conflict of interest. A regulator should never be in a position to profit from its decisions.
If the NDP wants to scare the daylights out of the private-sector broadcasters that keep running these lies, there's a simple solution: promise to return the regulation of broadcast standards to the CRTC.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.