The CBC has retracted another false Freedom Convoy story that suggested foreigners played a large role in the protest. The claim was made on a radio broadcast of The World This Hour, self-described as “Canada’s most trusted audio newscast.”
“On February 10 in a report about the protest convoy CBC Radio’s The World This Hour incorrectly said GoFundMe ended a fundraiser for the protesters over questionable donations to the group,” the network said in a statement. No explanation was given.
CBC News at the time claimed to have completed an exclusive analysis of Freedom Convoy donations and found suspicious contributions from foreigners. “The donations identified by CBC News are likely only a fraction of all the donations made by people outside of Canada,” read a February 10 website story headlined “Convoy Protest Received Hundreds Of Donations That Appeared To Be From Abroad.”
“In recent days questions have emerged about how the protesters raised so much money so quickly and where it came from,” said the article. “Before GoFundMe shut down the protest convoy’s crowdfunding page and announced donors would be refunded it had attracted more than 120,000 donations amounting to more than $10 million.”
A second story that same day went further in questioning Freedom Convoy contributions. “An analysis of GoFundMe donations by CBC News has revealed at least one third of them had been made by donors who chose to remain anonymous or who listed names that were obviously fictitious or political commentary.”
Both stories were by Elizabeth Thompson, a CBC reporter who spoke negatively of protesting truckers at a public meeting of the Parliamentary Press Gallery on February 15. “Personally I felt a little uncomfortable because there were all these guys roaming around the street,” said Thompson.
GoFundMe executives in March 3 testimony at the Commons public safety committee confirmed foreigners comprised a small portion of convoy donors, that most contributions were small, and that a check of credit card records found no evidence of involvement by terrorist groups, neo-Nazis or other known criminals. “Our records show 88 percent of donated funds originated in Canada,” said Juan Benitez, president of GoFundMe.
Canada’s top anti-terror financing regulator also described convoy fundraising as harmless. “There were people around the world who were fed up with Covid and were upset and saw the demonstrations,” Barry McKillop, deputy director of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre, testified February 24 at the Commons finance committee. “I believe they just wanted to support the cause.”
The CBC on February 3 corrected an earlier television story suggesting Russians were behind the Freedom Convoy. Television host Nil Koksal in a January 28 broadcast of Power And Politics claimed “there is concern that Russian actors could be continuing to fuel things as this protest grows or perhaps even instigating it from the outside.”
The claim was false. “A clarification note was added,” the CBC said in a statement.