“I share the concerns of many Canadians about the presence of Russia Today on our broadcast system,” Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said on Twitter on Saturday. “We are looking at all options.”
The three largest telecommunications companies offer RT to their TV subscribers, according to their websites. Spokespersons for those companies, Rogers Communications Inc, Telus Corp and BCE Inc, did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside of normal business hours.
RT and other state-funded outlets such as Sputnik are actively involved in advancing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical agenda, according to an article published by the US State Department in January.
“The role of RT and Sputnik as disinformation and propaganda outlets is most evident when dealing with issues of political importance to the Kremlin,” the report from the Center for Global Engagement department said. “A frequent example is Russia’s use of RT and Sputnik to try to change public opinion on Ukraine in Europe, the United States and as far afield as Latin America.”
Paula Simons, a member of the Canadian Senate, said she would meet with the country’s broadcasting regulator on Monday to ask questions about RT. A 2017 investigation by the Globe and Mail newspaper found that, in some cases, cable companies in Canada were paid by an RT subsidiary to carry the channel. At the time, it was estimated that RT reached between 6 and 7 million Canadian homes.
Canada is home to about 1.3 million people of Ukrainian descent, including one of the most powerful members of government, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced several rounds of sanctions against Russia and Putin in response to the invasion and openly supported the idea of excluding Russian entities from the SWIFT financial messaging system that facilitates billions of dollars of transactions.