Mon, 05/22/2017 - 13:25

Posted by H.G. Watson on May 11, 2017

By Esther Enkin, CBC Ombudsman

The complainant, Bill Hughes, thought Montreal morning show host Mike Finnerty was rude and inappropriate in his interview with Conservative MP Tony Clement. The opposition public safety critic hung up on him during a live interview. Mr. Hughes felt there was deliberate provocation and an attempt to humiliate - the interview was tough and persistent. Angering an interviewee who is in a position of accountability is not a violation of policy.

COMPLAINT

You objected to an interview conducted by Michael Finnerty, host of Daybreak, on CBC radio in Montreal. He was talking to Conservative MP Tony Clement, who is his party’s public safety critic. The interview concerned the challenge of the growing number of would-be refugee claimants making illegal crossings into Canada. Mr. Clement hung up after Mr. Finnerty repeated the same question and interrupted him. You considered the interview rude and inappropriate. You told Mr. Finnerty he was “grandstanding” and instead of reporting the news, his goal was to make it. You thought the confrontation was deliberate and constituted “entrapment.”

Mr. Finnerty had an agenda, whether his own, or from the CBC, to embarrass Mr. Clement in the best way possible. If Mr. Finnerty already knew (and he did) what the law states on illegal entry into Canada, why didn’t he state the law himself, and ask Mr. Clement’s view on it?

MANAGEMENT RESPONSE

The Senior Manager for Journalism Programming in Quebec, Helen Evans, responded to your concerns.

She explained Mr. Clement was invited to speak on the programme because the upsurge in illegal crossings at the Quebec and Manitoba borders had been in the news, and that some refugee advocates had been pressuring the Liberal government to suspend the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement which provided the loophole for these would-be claimants. She added there were calls for some kind of plan to deal with the influx. In this context, Mr. Clement had tweeted his view:

For his part, over the weekend, Mr. Clement, the opposition critic, tweeted that illegal crossings were a “burden on local communities”. “Our laws should be enforced”...

Ms. Evans explained that Mr. Finnerty wanted to find out which law Mr. Clement was referring to, and to state specifically how he expected the RCMP to enforce those laws. She said by re-asking the question he was giving Mr. Clement “ample opportunity” to provide an answer to the questions, and that his tone remained respectful. She added that it is the job of a skilled interviewer to not only provide a politician with a platform to present his or her views, or that of the party, but also to probe for detailed answers.

Continue reading this story on the CBC website, where it was first posted.

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