The CBC yesterday corrected a commentary claiming a Blacklock’s story on the federal carbon tax was an “attempt to confuse Canadians.” Max Fawcett, a Calgary pundit who made the claim, had not read the story.
Blacklock’s in a January 5 item “Contradict Carbon Tax Claim” correctly reported the federal treasury in 2019-2020 collected millions more in carbon taxes than it paid in rebates in four provinces, an average twenty percent more. The figures contradicted cabinet claims that households “actually get more money” under the program.
The story correctly quoted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as remarking in 2019, “The average citizens of those provinces will be better off.” Trudeau has said rebates, called Climate Action Incentive payments, exceeded higher fuel costs for most consumers.
“The reality is the Climate Action Incentive and our plan to put a price on pollution actually gets more money in the pocket of middle class Canadians,” said Trudeau.
The story also correctly stated cabinet as recently as last December 7 repeated the claim rebates exceeded taxes for the vast majority of people. “Households benefit,” Liberal MP Sean Fraser (Central Nova, N.S.), parliamentary secretary for finance, said at the time. “Households continue to receive more money in the Climate Action Incentive than they are putting out.”
Cabinet to date has never disclosed any data proving the claim. Nor has cabinet detailed actual figures on higher costs for Canadians as a result of carbon-taxed fuel, home heating, groceries, goods and services.
Pundit Fawcett the day the January 5 Blacklock’s story appeared alleged the article was false and unethical. “This is either shamefully dishonest or shamefully incompetent work,” Fawcett wrote on his Twitter account: “This little episode is going in a future column of mine.”
“Lies,” “Deceit” And “Attempt To Confuse”
The Blacklock’s story was paywalled for subscribers. Fawcett is not a subscriber, had no access to the article, and did not answer when challenged. His commentary had no references to elements contained within the paywalled news item.
Instead, Fawcett cited Blacklock’s by name in a Tuesday commentary on a CBC.ca website headlined “Ottawa Needs To Fight More Effectively For The Carbon Tax.” “Lies and deceit keep spreading,’” it read.
“Their latest attempt to confuse Canadians came in the form of a January 5 story in Blacklock’s Reporter, an Ottawa-based subscription news service, which suggested that ‘Canadians paid millions more in carbon tax than they received in rebates,’” he wrote.
Fawcett lamented “an environment where misinformation thrives and where one side has repeatedly shown its willingness to spread it about the carbon tax,” adding: “Equally dishonest was the implication the federal government had promised the rebates would be larger than the total tax paid by all Canadians. That was never the case.”
A CBC Journalistic Standards And Practices guide states even pundits must adhere to a code of conduct. Opinions must “not misrepresent other points of view,” it states. The CBC yesterday published a notice correcting any suggestion “the attempt to confuse Canadians was initiated by the Blacklock’s story.”
Fawcett yesterday denied making claims about Blacklock’s. “I never once commented on the actual story,” he said in an email. “I didn’t call your story any of those things.”
Fawcett is a former manager at the Alberta Climate Change Office. In 2018 Global News disclosed he was named by the province’s then-NDP government for publishing a snide tweet stating: “Cuckservatives are the best. So fragile!”
“I was shocked and very disappointed to see the comment posted by an employee,” Eric Denhoff, then-deputy minister responsible for the Climate Change Office, said in a statement to Global. “The comment in question was totally unacceptable and does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta.”