CBC responds to my complaint on First Nations pipeline protest story

hartley bay

Below is the response from the CBC to this complaint I filed June 22:

Just as politicians and lobby groups must publicize their sources of funding in order to be accountable to the public, reporters seeking to inform that same public must make this information a prominent part of their stories in order to provide relevant context to readers. Particularly when a new political interest group appears on the scene, reporters have an obligation to provide readers with a complete picture of who this group is, why they have emerged, and who has provided the funds to make their emergence possible.

I believe Margo McDiarmid made a significant omission in the June 20, 2014 story, “Northern Gateway tanker threat spurs First Nation’s yarn blockade” by omitting a great deal of information about the nature of the “pipeline opponents” featured in his story — the Hartley Bay First Nation — particularly who provides their funding as outlined in this Joint Review testimony: https://bcblue.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/tides-gitgaat.jpg and this 2008 CP story in which the Hartley Bay First Nation created their own environmental disaster: https://bcblue.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/hartley-bay.jpg

Considering that many political activist groups these days are open fronts for special interest lobbies, reporters should be aware that their neutral coverage can be compromised by omitting critical details about who is providing the funding for mysterious new groups suddenly exerting great influence over our political debates. In particular, it is becoming increasingly apparent that many “green” activist groups have ties to highly questionable sources of funding that may significantly alter their standing in the eyes of the public if known, such as the recent news from NATO that some European environmentalist groups may in fact be on Russian payroll. Funding questions of green groups is thus a matter of clear public interest and curiosity.

A correction needs to be issued by the CBC and a statement from the CBC Ombudsman that condemns omitting such details in further stories on this and other similar issues.

Dean Skoreyko


Dear Mr. Skoreyko:

Thank you for your e-mail of June 22 addressed to Esther Enkin, CBC Ombudsman, drawing our attention to what you take to be a “significant omission” in a CBCNews.ca story posted on June 20, under the headline, “Northern Gateway tanker threat spurs First Nation’s yarn ‘blockade’”. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/northern-gateway-tanker-threat-spurs-first-nation-s-yarn-blockade-1.2682777).

Since I am responsible for Politics on CBCNews.ca, Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief of CBC News, asked me to reply.

While I regret you are once again disappointed in CBC, with respect, your view of the story is largely not one I share.

Specifically, you suggested that the Hartley Bay First Nation is relatively new as a protest group, and the story should have included information about “who provided the funds to make their emergence possible”. Reporters have an obligation to include this information as a “prominent” part of the story to provide relevant context to readers, you wrote.

Context is important to help readers understand the significance of a story, I agree. But the contextual information we include in stories should be relevant. Although it may be in other stories, depending on the focus, I do not believe the information about who is funding the Gitga’at First Nation is relevant in this particular story.

Supporting your assertion, you included a brief excerpt from “Joint Review testimony”, which indicates that the Gitga’at First Nation says it “received $20,000 from the Great Bear Initiative for the purpose of participating in the Joint Panel process”. In the answer to a second question, the band states it received “no” money from Tides Canada or any similar organization to oppose the Northern Gateway project.

I should point out here that the excerpt is actually from the Gitga’at First Nation’s July 6, 2012 written response to the Joint Review Panel answering Northern Gateway’s first information request. In its answer to question (a) in section 1.4 “Capacity to Participate in Review” (your excerpt was of answers to questions (f) and (g)), the Gitga’at said that the federal government’s Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency had contributed $267,500 to support its participation in the Joint Review Panel Process.

As I understand it, the Turning Point/Great Bear Initiative is a fund set up by the BC Coastal First Nations, of which the Gitga’at First Nation is a member, and was jointly funded by the federal government, the provincial government and environmental groups including Tides Canada.

The details of who provided the funding to allow the Gitga’at to participate in the Review Panel process are well outside the scope of this story, which relatively narrowly focuses on the unique nature of the Gitga’at protest – the symbolic blockade of Douglas Channel with a 4.6 kilometre-long crocheted rope crafted by Hartley Bay community members – intended to demonstrate the “fragility” of the channel that would see some 220 oil tankers a year if the Northern Gateway pipeline is built.

Your e-mail also included a link to a story in which, you wrote, the Hartley Bay First Nation “created their own environmental disaster” and suggested that information, too, should have been included in our story.

The CP news brief you linked to from March, 2008, says the Hartley Bay band council was warned it may face a fine over a spill of 15,000 litres of diesel fuel. (There is a more detailed version of the story here: http://spillcontainment.wordpress.com/2008/03/25/hartley-bay-bc-councillor-says-residents-worked-hard-to-contain-large-oil-spill/). Any spill is serious, although it is hard to gauge the effect of this one. The longer story says Environment Canada had two years to decide whether it would lay charges, but despite some searching, I could not find any confirmation that charges were in fact laid.

In retrospect, including a reference to the spill might have provided some insight to the Gitga’at’s sensitivity to the potential environmental damage that could result from spills the area. Although you did not mention it, and perhaps more to the point, I think the story could have included information about the 2006 sinking of the Queen of the North just a few kilometres from Hartley Bay. When that ship ran aground in the narrow channel, some 220,000 litres of diesel oil was spilled.

Thank you again for your e-mail. I hope my reply has reassured you of the continuing integrity of our news service.

Chris Carter
Senior Producer, Politics


12 Responses to “CBC responds to my complaint on First Nations pipeline protest story”

  1. Alain Says:

    In short Chris says the identity of the source of funding is irrelevant and of no importance. Would Chris feel the same if a pro-life group or a pro-firearms group had received foreign funding to mount a protest? Clearly not, in fact that would be the main emphases of the story.

    • Kenn Says:

      over 100 Billion to this public corporation.. spent already… Agree with them because they are the ruling elite….. is there attitude… Down with CBC…. Welfare journalism……

  2. Clary Says:

    I am glad that you make the needed effort to complain to the CBC. I hope you keep doing it in the future. However they appear to live in their own world and really don’t give a crap what the people who pay their salaries think. The response was pathetic. Of course I want to know who is paying the bills for a protest. This whole Tides support is a massive scandal that only a very few care about. I have written to my NDP MP several times about this and get a canned letter back stating Harper is destroying the country. ????? ?????? I would have better luck talking to a brick wall.

  3. Doug Ross Says:

    It sure took them a long time to reply. Could it be they have to hire more staff at the CBC? By the waymy Kelowna grandson just recvd his Diploma from Waterloo university, applied for several jobs and has accepted a job in Elizabeh Mays offfice, but my vote still goes to the PC since ou r useless MP his taking his money and quiting his useless job as Harper hack man/Doug

  4. Liz J Says:

    Any foreign money going to groups, be they Indians, Natives, whatever is the big story, they are funding people to interfere in the business of this democracy. Would it matter to some of these bone headed reporters if they used the money for ammunition or any form of civil disruption?

    Why are we still tolerating the funding of the CBC when they’re clearly and constantly playing politics, rabidly opposed to the Harper Conservative government?

  5. Martin Says:

    “While I regret you are once again disappointed in CBC….”

    Do I detect a certain snippiness here from Mr Carter? It appears the CBC is tired of complaints coming from Dean Skoreyko. Can you , or anyone ever recall a positive reaction from the Ombudsman over a complaint.
    I cannot, any complaints I made were dismissed in a similar fashion. Basically, CBC is never wrong in their news reporting.

  6. Sean M Says:

    Good effort Dean… it’s unfortunate the reply you received from the CBC goblin, Carter, reads more like a reply from a nauseatingly self important twat…The little CBC goblin regurgitates the exact same talking points one would expect from a radical enviro activist or a marxist or someone who works on the Junior Trud campaign team, but hey, it is the CBC so I guess thats why it reads the way it does. The little marxist doesn’t give a damn what you or any other Canadian has to say about the CBC’s blatant activism and bias by omission, the wretched little goblin doesn’t give a damn about the unwilling taxpayer that is forced to pay his salary either . After the nauseating exercise of reading comrade Carters reply to you Dean, I am sufficiently reassured that dear comrade has the personality and charisma of a wet dishrag with an intellect to match.

  7. DW Says:


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