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Harper has no mandate to auction off CBC buildings during an election

CBCOTTAWA – The Council of Canadians is accusing the Conservative Party of abusing the rules of caretaker governance in the recent announcement that all CBC buildings could soon be for sale.

"CBC has clearly been in the crosshairs in Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Harper is willing to do basically anything to get a deal and the other countries know it," says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. "The Conservative campaign needs to answer whether this firesale of CBC buildings is part of getting the Trans-Pacific Partnership signed before October 19 to boost his chances of re-election."

This controversial development is just the latest questionable action straying further and further from the bounds of caretaker governance during the election. In July, the government extended the Canada Post CEO's contract by five years, despite the controversial cuts to home mail delivery he has been implementing. Both the CBC and Canada Post are at risk of privatization from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"This is an anti-democratic and partisan move at a time when the government is supposed to be in caretaker mode," says Dylan Penner, Democracy Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. "The CBC board – most of whom are Harper patronage appointments and Conservative donors – is taking an aggressive action in line with Conservative funding commitments (in this case, cuts) at a time when the opposition parties are promising restoring or increasing CBC funding. How is that not a partisan act?"

The plan to sell all CBC buildings also raises new questions about the accuracy and transparency of the 2015 federal budget, as well as Harper’s economic honesty, given the budget contained no mention of selling off any CBC buildings – let alone all of them. The Council of Canadians is demanding that the TPP text be made public in order for voters to see for themselves just what the Harper government is giving away in this so-called deal.

"Was selling off CBC core assets part of "balancing" the budget to achieve a fake surplus? What else hasn’t Harper told us?" asks Barlow. "This kind of abuse of power is reminiscent of the win-at-any-cost culture in the PMO that led to the Mike Duffy scandal. The Conservatives claim the CBC board is arm's-length and independent. They made that same claim about the Senate, but the evidence in the Duffy trial showed Conservative senators take their marching orders from the PMO. How are we to believe this partisan action by the CBC board is any different?" 

"The Conservatives are running a campaign of utter desperation: trying to get the TPP signed at any cost, the firesale of the CBC, demonizing the niqab, and the politics of fear," says Sujata Dey, Trade Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. "It sounds like a last-ditch attempt to impose their Republican imprint on Canada before a possible defeat."