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Conservative MP Maxime Bernier says the CBC has stretched itself too thin. (Eduardo Lima/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Conservative MP Maxime Bernier says the CBC has stretched itself too thin. (Eduardo Lima/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Politics Briefing

CBC needs to slim down and refocus, Conservative leadership candidate says Add to ...

POLITICS BRIEFING

One Conservative leadership candidate says he has a plan for the CBC if he is elected: a little smaller, and more focused.

Maxime Bernier, a Quebec MP and former Harper minister, says the public broadcaster is trying to do too many things at once and is stretching itself too thin. “It tries to occupy every niche, even though it doesn’t have and will never have the means to do so, with the result being lower-quality programming,” Mr. Bernier said in a statement, citing cooking shows, sports coverage and its streaming music website.

Instead, he says, CBC should focus on its strength: its network of correspondents across the country. “Over the past couple of years, when it had to adjust to a smaller budget, it cut back on its regional stations and concentrated more resources in the big towers in Toronto and Montreal instead. It should have done the opposite. Canadians don’t want to see their world only through the eyes of Toronto or Montreal,” Mr. Bernier said in the statement.

He also said the CBC should stop taking ads, and instead rely on sponsorship and donations, like public broadcasters in the United States. He also said he would reverse the Liberal increases to the broadcaster, and hinted at shrinking budgets in the future.

In a scrum Wednesday, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly said Mr. Bernier was just trying to replicate cuts the CBC budget went through under the previous Conservative government.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS MORNING

> A coalition of executives from more than 40 Canadian companies are showing their support for Justin Trudeau’s carbon pricing plan. “Putting a price on carbon, to reflect the real environmental costs, is the most cost effective way to reduce emissions, stimulate innovation and drive energy efficiency,” a joint letter says.

> Canada 2020, a think tank with ties to the Liberals, is trying to keep its distance from the controversy around cash-for-access fundraisers.

> It will take five years for the Super Hornet jets to be integrated into Canada’s fleet, experts say.

> Alberta is going to start partially regulating its electricity system, after being the only province to go unregulated.

> A federal fund to compensate victims of the tainted blood scandal – who contracted hepatitis C before 1986 or after 1990 – has a shortfall reaching $220-million.

> Kevin O’Leary may actually be gearing up for a run at the Conservative leadership.

> And the cost of the 24 Sussex renovations could rise to $38-million, according to documents obtained by iPolitics. Almost $12-million of that would go toward demolishing the controversial pool house that Pierre Trudeau installed, and replacing it with a new wing of the house. The National Post points out you could buy four replica White Houses for that much. Another scenario, Huffington Post reports, would see it turned into a $561-million complex – something that would turn it into the White House.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): “Donald Trump’s promises about Mexico – deporting millions back to the country, building a border wall, rewriting or tearing up NAFTA – are far greater cause for anxiety in Mexico City than Ottawa. But like Justin Trudeau’s government, the administration of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto is working to tamp down the fear.”

Elinor Sloan (Globe and Mail): “Buying more Super Hornets as a result of the now-promised competition some years from now would, of course, eliminate the two-fleet problem. But what if the competition does not yield the Super Hornet? The 18 aircraft will continue to fly; they are, after all, a 40-year aircraft, and in that sense are inaccurately described as ‘interim.’ ”

Nicole Hurtubise (Globe and Mail): “Canada’s own record on the right to safe water has been highlighted in recent months, with deplorable conditions in many First Nations communities. Mr. Trudeau has already made pledges to right this wrong. This summit now presents a tremendous opportunity for Canada to champion the human right to water and sanitation both at home and abroad, and to call on other members of the Francophonie to make access to clean water in communities, schools, medical clinics and hospitals a development priority.”

Jason Markusoff (Maclean’s): “There are two dominant political dynamics in Alberta: economic anxiety, and the desire to remedy the dice-roll that gave the province an NDP government. … [Jason] Kenney wins the backlash sweepstakes if he becomes the easiest answer to that question, and if he can keep Albertans cozy in the traditional embrace of against-all-taxes dogma.”

Andrew Coyne (National Post): “Liberals have always to guard against arrogance and self-satisfaction – envy and resentment are the Tory equivalents – and this current generation of Liberals are, let us just say, immensely pleased with themselves. That kind of smugness can lead to overreach and unforced errors, and if not checked will eventually give rise to public loathing. People fall out of love as quickly as they fall in it, as any number of once popular leaders can attest.”

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Compiled by Chris Hannay. Edited by Steven Proceviat.

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