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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Lee

The Canada Infrastructure Bank: A Tale of Corporate Cartels, Laurentian Elites, and Public Pensions

PART FOUR: The Propaganda

If there is any doubt left in your mind at this point that the Canada Infrastructure Bank should be promptly dismantled, this short but disturbing accounting may settle it once and for all.

The CIB quietly attempted to influence media reports through government-sponsored propaganda. We tend to think of propaganda of being a foreign phenomenon: it happens somewhere "over there". I personally found several articles which have been altered and edited from their original releases over the course of this series, and this is verifiable. Links on the CIB's website which used to work are now simply showing messages of "Page not found".

Along these lines, a leaked internal memo from the bank showed that the tax-payer funded entity was keeping tabs on individual reporters and putting them on a naughty or nice list. How unsettling. Journalists were ranked according to how “positive” or “negative” their coverage was of the institution, according to Blacklock’s Reporter. Even more distressing is that the document was written by an outside consultant, indicating that the firm had been hired for the purpose of tracking down media personalities who were critical of the CIB to repress their journalistic efforts. This demonstrates a troubling assault on the freedom of expression (which is a key indicator of the strength of a democracy), and an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the public. They tried to muzzle cynical members of our "free" press. A successful organization with nothing to hide would simply not need to go to such lengths.

It makes you wonder how often the government does this.

The memo was also given to the The Globe and Mail: “David, as we discussed, here is the top five positive, top five negative analysis of media who have covered CIB,” read the correspondence. The naughty list identified Tyler Buist, Philippe Orfali, Jordan Press, Bill Curry, Amy Castle, and Paul Wells as reporters to be avoided. The note added that a follow up would be provided on reporters to be pursued for positive coverage opportunities.

What did these individuals write?

Bill Curry with The Globe and Mail has several articles available that portray the CIB in an unfavourable light. He pointed out that the bank had paid out more in termination benefit compensation than salaries during one time period due to the CIB’s high employee turnover rate. "Get in, get rich, and get out while the getting's good," may as well be the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s motto.

Phillippe Orfali of Le Journal de Montréal wrote an article whose headline read: La-Banque D’infrastructure a Contrevenua La Loi – The Infrastructure Bank Violated the Law. It was only a recounting of the lack of French-speaking employees - not exactly the smoking gun of an article I was gunning for - but the headline was damning enough it seems to have him banned from coverage.

Jordan Press of The Canadian Press wrote an article on the purchase of zero-emission buses among other things. “Electric buses are an important climate strategy, but we are concerned the Liberals have chosen to fund this infrastructure through their beleaguered infrastructure bank instead of traditional approaches that empower municipalities and communities.” Not flattering in the least. Onto the blacklist you go, Jordan.

Paul Wells from Maclean’s also wrote several articles highly critical of the bank. His role will be discussed in depth further on in another part, because he actually received an official response from the CIB. One byline read: “After years of extravagant claims and no results, Ottawa's dream of a bank that would somehow turn on a gigantic global cash spigot is over.” The short version is that the CIB responded with: "I am 100% sure that the Canada Infrastructure Bank would never blacklist any reporter." The leaked memo however obviously indicated otherwise.

This was just what I was expecting to find. Hard-hitting articles by hard-hitting journalists. A quick internet search delivered the expected results - fair assessments of what was shaping up to be a disastrous publicly-funded institution. A gaping black hole where money disappears and nothing ever comes back out. Then things took a turn for the chilling.

I couldn't find anything negative about the CIB from Tyler Buist.

I also couldn't find anything negative about the CIB from Amy Castle.

Both work for the CBC - the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A tax-funded, crown-owned and operated company. Like the Canada Infrastructure Bank is.

You can very easily find what would be considered to be "negative" press coverage of the CIB from every journalist on the list except for those from the CBC.

Either they didn’t belong on what appeared to be an extremely well-researched media blacklist to begin with - which I find hard to believe - or whatever they said about the bank has simply just disappeared.

To be continued...

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