Editor's Blog·Editor's Note

No, CBC News did not retract its stories on convoy protest donations

A persistent bit of misinformation about CBC News reporting continues to bubble up in certain Canadian publications and political venues, claiming that CBC retracted its stories about foreign donations to the convoy protest movement made via GoFundMe and GiveSendGo. This is false.

CBC stands by reporting on foreign donations to GoFundMe and GiveSendGo

A woman walks past protest signs placed on a fence surrounding Parliament Hill during the convoy protest against pandemic restrictions on Feb. 8, 2022 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

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A persistent bit of misinformation about CBC News reporting continues to bubble up in certain Canadian publications and political venues, including most recently at a special parliamentary committee tasked with examining why the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act amid the convoy protests and border blockades in February. 

The claim is that CBC News retracted its stories about foreign donations to the convoy protest movement made via GoFundMe and GiveSendGo.

This is false. We have never retracted these stories, and we stand by our reporting on foreign donations to both GoFundMe and GiveSendGo.

In the interest of setting the record straight, here are the facts:

In March, we publicly corrected one detail in a CBC News radio report that incorrectly said GoFundMe suspended a fundraising campaign over questionable donations. In fact, GoFundMe had suspended the campaign (and ultimately refunded most of the donations) because it violated its terms of service, which prohibits promotion of violence and harassment. 

Precision matters, as does transparency and accountability when we make mistakes. (As I've noted in an earlier blog, we publish a record of all significant corrections and clarifications made to our journalism, and our work is subject to independent review by an Ombudsman.)

That radio report also referred to a separate CBC analysis of comments on the GoFundMe website that highlighted how hundreds of donations to the convoy campaign may have come from outside Canada. We stand by that story.

In fact, GoFundMe's testimony before a House of Commons committee a few weeks after our story was published confirmed that 88 per cent of donated funds originated in Canada and 86 per cent of donors were from Canada — meaning about $1.2 million of the roughly $10 million raised came from outside the country. That not only validated our findings, but in fact, exceeded what our initial story found to be the potential scale of foreign donations.

A later, separate CBC News story analyzed donation data that had been hacked and posted online from another online fundraiser, GiveSendGo. At the time of publication, the data showed that more than half of donations, and nearly 40 per cent of the value of donated funds at that point in the campaign, originated outside Canada. CBC stands by that story

In later committee testimony, GiveSendGo testified that its most current data showed the number of donations had ended up at 60 per cent raised inside Canada while 40 per cent of donations were made outside Canada, including roughly 37 per cent from the United States. We reported on that testimony, which again was in line with our own initial findings.

Several websites and some media outlets misleadingly and unfairly linked these stories to the radio correction or wrongly conflated the GiveSendGo and GoFundMe stories and falsely claimed we had retracted our story. Surprisingly and worth noting, none sought comment from CBC before publishing their stories. 

CBC's commitment to the highest journalistic standards and practices was recognized this week by Reporters Without Borders under its Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) certification. CBC News and our French-language news service, Radio-Canada Info, earned the highest rating for meeting or exceeding an international standard for trustworthy journalism based on independent, external audits. You can learn more about the JTI here and review our certification in detail here

Our high journalistic standards obligate us to acknowledge and correct any errors we make in our work. We do so with full transparency. But those standards also compel us to call out and challenge misinformation and disinformation — to set the record straight and get the facts right — even when it's misinformation about our own work. 

For the record: 

We did not retract these stories. 

And we stand by our journalism.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brodie Fenlon

Editor in chief

Brodie Fenlon is editor in chief and executive director of daily news for CBC News.

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