A man is silhouetted walking past a Conservative Party logo before the opening of the party's national convention in Halifax, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Conservative election campaign ads violated copyright, CBC says

TORONTO — The Conservative party’s use of CBC news footage in a partisan attack ad and tweets was a copyright infringement damaging to the public broadcaster’s integrity and impartiality, Federal Court heard Thursday.

In submissions to the court, CBC lawyer Andrea Gonsalves said the federal Conservatives exploited the very qualities that make the CBC a trustworthy source of information.

“The works in issue are the products of CBC’s skill and judgment; they reflect its high journalistic standards, practices, efforts and ethics,” Gonsalves said. “The use and the unfairness of the use poses a real risk of eroding CBC’s trustworthiness and reputation in the eyes of the public.”

At issue are a Conservative ad and tweets from the 2019 election that used clips from CBC news programming and other outlets and from the leadership debates. The ad, for example, showed a short clip of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking the viewer to “look at what we’ve done” along with news clips that invited unfavourable conclusions about his performance.

The broadcaster, which maintains the issue is of wider public importance, wants Judge Michael Phelan to find a violation of the Copyright Act. The Conservatives want the case dismissed.

It is the first time a Canadian court has been asked to adjudicate a copyright dispute between a news organization and a major political organization, court heard.

A major problem is that the impugned material ignores the professional efforts that went into getting it to air, Gonsalves said. The Conservatives manipulated the material for their own purposes in a way that did not reflect the original context, she said,

“That’s antithetical to the very reason that material was created in the first place,” Gonsalves told court. “The use of the materials here degrades CBC’s journalistic work by deploying it to partisan ends.”

Phelan wondered about the widespread use of a famous clip of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau saying “just watch me,” when asked about the lengths he would go to to combat Quebec separatist violence.

Gonsalves called this situation different given the amount of work, planning and professional judgment and skill that went into creating the various segments. The Conservatives, she said, deliberately exploited those efforts and the trust people have in the CBC.

For their part, the Conservatives called the action “ill-conceived,” saying there was no evidence the CBC suffered any damage.

“There has been no detrimental effect,” party lawyer Casey Chisick said.

The snippets of news footage, the party argued, was intended to illustrate the failings of the Liberal government under Justin Trudeau. The ads and tweets did not use a “substantial part” of the CBC’s work and qualify as “fair dealing” under the act, Chisick said.

The party, which took the material down after the broadcaster complained, also accused the CBC of displaying the very kind of bias it claims not to espouse.

“What this amounts to is the CBC complaining that it doesn’t want to be associated with the Conservative party,” Chisick said.

The lawyer noted CBC dropped journalists Rosemary Barton and John Paul Tasker from the litigation after their inclusion in the initial filing sparked a backlash.

“This is really an attempt by the CBC to assert moral rights that it doesn’t have,” Chisick said of the claim.

CBC’s lawyers rejected Conservative suggestions the ads qualified as educational or satire.

“It isn’t ‘Monty Python.’” Phelan quipped.

The hearing is scheduled to wrap up on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 11, 2021.

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version had an incorrect last name for John Paul Tasker.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Traffic will be delayed on 40th Avenue and 19th Street until the end of February. (Advocate file photo).
Traffic delays expected downtown this weekend

Red Deer drivers will be delayed in the downtown area of the… Continue reading

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

A trial countdown sign marks the days at George Floyd Square, March 4, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ten months after police officers brushed off George Floyd's moans for help on the street outside a south Minneapolis grocery, the square remains a makeshift memorial for Floyd who died at the hand of police making an arrest. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will begin with jury selection on March 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Officer’s trial could reopen intersection where Floyd died

MINNEAPOLIS — During a group’s recent meeting at the now-vacant Speedway gas… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2020 file photo Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference a day after a demonstrator was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Amid protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year Portland dissolved a special police unit designed to focus on gun violence. Critics say the squad unfairly targeted Black people, but gun violence and homicides have since spiked in Oregon's largest city, and some say disbanding the 35-officer unit was a mistake. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP, File)
As violence surges, some question Portland axing police unit

PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister:… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Just don’t call it cod liver oil

Many people swear that a daily dose of various vitamins is an… Continue reading

Email editor@auburn-reporter.com
Letter: Preserving green spaces in Red Deer

The Advocate published an article Feb. 11 about Sunnybrook residents concerned about… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Most Read