CBC President acknowledges for the first time that the public broadcaster’s very existence is at risk due to funding cuts:“We risk being boiled to death”
Eight years into overseeing a massive and unprecedented downsizing of the CBC, the most ruthless in the public broadcaster’s 80-year history, with more than 2,000 or 25 per cent of staff laid off in five years and no end in sight, CBC President Hubert T. Lacroix now says he should have sounded the alarm earlier.
Lacroix’s sudden admission and defence of the public broadcaster he has made a career of shredding comes not in his own backyard, where CBC supporters have been sounding the alarm for years, but at an international conference on public broadcasting in Germany.
In a prepared speech, Lacroix admitted that public broadcasters “are at fault for not speaking loudly enough about the threats we face,” and “like the proverbial frog put in cold water that is slowly heated, we’ve resisted telling people that we risk being boiled to death.”
CBC employees would certainly agree, says the president of the largest union at the public broadcaster : “While we welcome his sudden candour, the temperature is still rising and the boiling continues” says Carmel Smyth, National President of the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), “Instead of lamenting his years silently wielding the knife, why isn’t Mr. Lacroix speaking out in Canada, rather than trying to stop CMG members from publicly seeking stable funding for the CBC? Lacroix could himself be speaking out in support of a public dialogue on this issue.”
The timing is perfect, during an election campaign when Canadians need to know that an institution they cherish is being vapourized. Sharing more details now could possibly move voters and ensure the next government will see improved CBC funding as a priority.
Isabelle Montpetit, president of Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada (SCRC) wonders whether Lacroix’s silence in Canada is a reflection of his “careful” relationship with the Prime Minister’s Office since, much like senators, the CBC president is hand-picked by the Prime Minister for the coveted job.
While both our unions welcome Lacroix’s sudden candour and hearing him speak on behalf of the country’s largest news organization, (including calling for public broadcasters to work together to build a ‘global public broadcasting community’), we ask for more honest talk.
Given that three out of four federal political parties are pledging to reverse recent budget cuts to the CBC, if that happens will Lacroix commit now to use the money to restore jobs and restore a proud tradition of producing award-winning documentaries and original programming? Without such a commitment, we must assume he will continue down his current path, which will reduce the public broadcaster to a glorified distributor of purchased commercial (much of it non-Canadian) content.