Many of us now already know we live in a world where polls report 87% of Canadians support better funding for the CBC. Yet those numbers seem to fade at election time, buried under a pile of other pressing problems. Until this year.
In 2015, funding for the CBC/Radio-Canada has been slashed so significantly, with such devastating repercussions that there has been an unprecedented wave of rallies and protests.
From Thunder Bay to Cape Breton, and many communities in between including Toronto and Ottawa, Canadians rallied in their towns and cities, with 20 thousand people marching through the streets of Montreal in November, for “their CBC/Radio-Canada”. Then this year we have a series of sold-out concerts with Canadians saying and showing their love for the national public broadcaster: 800 hundred Acadians in Moncton on January 25, 1,500 people at a concert in Montreal on February 25, and another high-profile event to be held for March 9 at the National Arts Center in Ottawa.
In Moncton and Montreal, committed citizens gathered at a concert for several hours of “I heart CBC”, and to rage against an extraordinary two years of budget cuts that have seen the Conservatives slash millions from the CBC budget, eliminating approximately 1,300 jobs.
Last weekend, poets, pop stars, and cultural icons took to the stage to denounce the Conservative dismantling of the public broadcaster. ArianeMoffatt,Michel Rivard, Normand Brathwaite, Damien Robitaille, and two dozen others shared their outrage with hosts Pénélope McQuade and Philippe Fehmiu, calling the lack of support for the public broadcaster, ”tragicfor Québec,for Canada, for the Francophonie and the regions”.
Others urged: “You have to believe in the CBC. It belongs to us. We must take care, and we must care. Continue to believe in it!”
Montreal mayor, Denis Coderre urged Montrealers to elect a government favourable to the CBC in the next election, “For the quality of information, for creativity, for culture,” and because Radio-Canada plays a “vital role”, while NDP Heritage Critic Pierre Nantel promised stable multi-year funding, and an end to patronage appointments to the CBC board of directors if the NDP is elected.
Nantel went on to describe what’s at stake in this fight: “The incredible lineup of artists participating [shows] how much we need the public broadcaster. If we had not had the public broadcaster, we would never have discovered all these artists whom we hear so little of early in their carriers on typical commercial radio.”
We are heartened to see Canadians stand up for the CBC. March is the third large public concert in just a few weeks; we hope the federal government hears the music and the message.
The CMG continues to assist, encourage and work with allies dedicated to making support for CBC/SRC an issue that cannot be ignored, especially in this election year. We continue to urge Canadians to use your vote for the candidates who speak up for better funding for the CBC.