Credits: SUN NEWS NETWORK
OTTAWA -- A day after attacking a Sun News Network personality for reporting information the CBC released that the state broadcaster had a private box at the Queen's Jubilee concert in June, the network switched gears Wednesday and said the whole thing was a joke on the Prime Minister's Office.
The CBC now says there was never a $75,000 box - just an $18,000 position for a gaggle of staffers - to film and watch a parade of stars and other luminaries fete the
Queen in London, England.
The climb down came a day after the CBC challenged the contents of its own information it released to QMI under the Access to Information Act that showed an e-mail exchange between the broadcaster's Allie Elwell and Andrew MacDougall, communications director for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in which she extended an invitation to the private box to watch the star-studded concert.
"You should come hang out with us," Elwell wrote to MacDougall. "We have a private box."
After QMI's Brian Lilley reported the exchange, the CBC published a post on its website accusing the journalist of distorting the facts - when the only facts reported were the ones released by the broadcaster, which receives $1.2 billion annually in public funds. The CBC did not use its website to explain Elwell's e-mail was a joke.
Nor was there was anything in the e-mails themselves identifying them as a joke, which raises serious questions about access laws being flouted.
Marco Dube, corporate spokesman for the CBC, said Elwell's invitation to MacDougall "was never meant to be taken seriously."
"Essentially, she was joking," he said.