CBC’s allegation that Premier Smith contacted prosecutors about border-related charges from Coutts was “unsubstantiated speculation,” said the crown.
The since-corrected article from CBC sparked a flurry of calls for an investigation into the allegation.
Subsequently, the non-partisan Public Service Commission conducted an investigation into the allegation from CBC’s anonymous sources. The review found no evidence to corroborate the claims.
“The Alberta Crown Prosecution Service (ACPS) has fully cooperated with the independent and comprehensive review of ACPS emails…” said Kimberley Goddard of ACPS.
“This review found no evidence of contact between the ACPS and the Premier’s office regarding prosecutions.”
Goddard further said this line of speculation is no longer warranted.
“This unsubstantiated speculation harms the reputation of ACPS and does a disservice to the dedicated professionals in ACPS who carry out their work with unwavering integrity,” she said.
Following these findings, the Alberta government stated it would conduct no further review unless additional evidence is brought forward.
The CBC continues to defend its reporting, albeit with a correction. The state broadcaster originally reported the story with ambiguity regarding the alleged emails that, if true, would implicate Smith in an overreach of her powers as Premier.
The CBC initially reported “The emails were sent last fall, according to sources whom CBC has agreed not to identify because they fear they could lose their jobs.”
Since then, the CBC added a line to this paragraph. The additional line stated that no one from the CBC verified the emails were authentic.
In other words, the story’s veracity originally hung on the spoken word of CBC’s anonymous sources.
Following the CBC’s original report, Alberta’s New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Rachel Notley called for an “investigation” with support from a handful of legacy media journalists.
Notley has not deleted her tweet that called for an investigation.
Last year, the CBC similarly stood by multiple reports after certain allegations within them were determined false.