The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has been found liable in Manitoba’s largest defamation case since 1998.
The state-funded Canadian media has been ordered to pay $295,017 in legal fees, as well as $1,659,403 in damages for libel.
In 2012, the CBC ran stories on a Winnipeg investment advisor, Kenneth Muzik, who had won the Wealth Management Practice of the Year award in the prior year.
The state-funded media ran a story depicting Muzik with the headline: “Is your money safe?”, and an announcer’s script that read: “Our top story tonight has to do with your hard-earned savings.”
The CBC’s stories detailed an investor unhappy with the performance of his investment, and who alleged unethical behaviour on the part of Muzik.
The CBC aired snippets of a secretly recorded audio conversation with Muzik, taken from a two-hour-long file. The state-funded media failed to provide the full original recording.
“This constituted not only a breach of … [CBC’s] own journalistic standards but also represented the height of irresponsibility when the professional reputation of Mr. Muzik was hanging in the balance,” Rempel wrote.
Justice Rempel, who wrote the decision against the state-funded media, said the CBC “failed in its “obligation to report the facts in a fair, balanced and responsible manner”.
“The CBC took very strong positions during the course of the trial that were not supported by the facts as I found them”, Rempel added.
“The CBC has considerable resources and a wide audience as a national broadcaster […] It also has a large footprint on the internet through its website.”
“It will be something that lives on forever even if the CBC removes the news stories from its website […] Anyone with a web browser will be able to find or stumble across the defamatory expression and in that sense Mr. Muzik will never be able to escape the reach of the defamatory expression.”
The CBC costs Canadians over one billion dollars annually. In recent years, the state-funded media’s coverage has become ideologically oriented, with some audiences pointing out what they say is a liberal bias.
The CBC had to retract stories regarding the freedom convoy in which the broadcaster said the funding was largely foreign. This was proved false in testimony before the House of Commons.
The CBC went so far as to claim the freedom convoy was funded by Russia as a means to destabilize the government. In reality, the convoy proved to be a grassroots movement with strong support amongst Canadians. The protestors requested an end to all COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.
The state-funded broadcaster plans to appeal the decision.