LaFlamme firing ‘disappointing but not surprising’: Poilievre

Federal Conservative leadership candidate says telecom company has history of interfering in news coverage

Lisa LaFlamme, former chief anchor of CTV National News | Twitter

Ontario MP and Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre says this month’s firing of Lisa LaFlamme as CTV National News’ chief anchor comes as no surprise, owing to what he describes as a history of newsroom interference by the outlet’s parent company.

LaFlamme said in an Aug. 15 video posted to Twitter that she was “blindsided” when Bell Media Inc. ended her contract after three decades.

The Globe and Mail later reported she had clashed with CTV News executive Michael Melling and that he had questioned who approved her decision to let her hair go grey after she stopped dyeing it. Following intense backlash from the public, it was revealed late last week Melling has taken a leave of absence.

“I've been a big critic of Bell Canada [BCE Inc.] for a long time,” Poilievre told Glacier Media on Monday, referring to the telecom company that owns CTV through its Bell Media subsidiary.

“Bell Media was very hard on the Conservatives because we promoted competition in the telecom sector. We wanted to have more competition so that Canadians could have lower prices and higher quality customer service, and therefore CTV and other outlets [have been] very hostile to Conservatives.”

In 2015 Kevin Krull, then the president of Bell Media, apologized after it emerged he ordered journalists at CTV News not to provide airtime to the chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Communications Commission (CRTC).

The CRTC had just announced it would require cable companies to offer pick-and-play TV services, a decision that would have impacts on Bell Media’s revenue.

Krull departed Bell Media soon after his apology.

“So now we're hearing more stories of interference in news content by Bell Canada,” said Poilievre, a federal Conservative leadership candidate.

“It's disappointing but not surprising.”

He said LaFlamme’s firing is another reason why Canadians are looking to news sources beyond traditional media based in Ottawa and Toronto.

torton@biv.com

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