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Talking Points

Liberals blast back at Tory attempt to 'muzzle' CBC Add to ...

The CBC-bashing continues unabated as Tory strategists uncover more revelations of so-called Liberal bias at the network.

Mary Pynenberg, the viewer who inspired a recent poll on women in politics, is not only a former Liberal candidate but is also a "radical anti-Stephen Harper group," according to the latest internal Tory talking points. Oh, and she has donated $14,000 since 2004 to the Liberal Party.

The Liberals are fighting back, though.

"The government would clearly like to muzzle and disenfranchise any active Liberal from the public square, including Mary Pynenberg, because the government thinks it should have a monopoly on the public square," party president Alf Apps told The Globe today.

"The fact that Mary Pynenberg shares and represents a perspective which is as legitimate as that of its own political base is lost on them. So far as I am aware, Liberals have never attacked the CBC simply for airing right-wing Conservative opinion when it has done so. Nor have we ever suggested that someone's views are illegitimate just because he/she has contributed to the CPC or been a member of the CPC."

A senior Ignatieff official piled on, calling the Tory attacks "pathetic."

Earlier today, the Tories sent out a series of talking points underlining their view that the CBC has a pro-Grit bias and is out to get the Conservatives. This after Conservative operatives stayed up late Friday night shooting down the broadcaster's response to their initial salvo.

The latest is that Ms. Pynenburg is also the vice-president of the National Women's Liberal Commission and "a proud member of Canadians Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper (CRUSH), a radical anti-Stephen Harper group," the Tory missive says.

"Last week, we pointed out that CBC and Frank Graves (significant Liberal Party donor as well as someone who has been offering 'Culture War' political advice to the Liberals) commissioned a poll for CBC based on a supposedly neutral 'viewer-inspired' question," the Conservative script says.

"It is beyond the pale that CBC consistently engages in political information and analysis from a Liberal-backing pollster in response to a Liberal-inspired question with no disclosure and certainly no apologies afterwards."

Mr. Graves and the CBC have dismissed any links to the Liberals.

Noting that nearly two-thirds of Canadians voted against the government in the last two elections, Mr. Apps says it's bizarre "to suggest that a private citizen who happens to be a Liberal has to disclose his/her political affiliation before he/she speaks on anything."

He adds:

"Are we going to demand that all Catholics speaking out on abortion disclose their religion when they speak? Are we going to demand that all NRA members disclose their membership in the NRA before they talk about gun control issues? Are we going to demand that all civil rights activists disclose their sexual orientation before they address the question of gay rights? Are we going to demand that all oil sands development advocates disclose their energy company stockholdings before they speak out on greenhouse gas emission controls?"

Mr. Apps, who is a lawyer in his non-political life, concludes: "the government has no devotion whatsoever to the principles of liberal democracy which naturally require a commitment to a politically independent media and the toleration of dissenting and critical opinion, as key drivers of debate and discussion in a free and democratic society."

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