The unions inside the CBC seem to have toned down earlier rhetoric suggesting the pubcaster's president, Hubert Lacroix, be pink-slipped. There is, however, a sense of urgency and perhaps even a hint of impending agitation embedded in the wording of a letter ostensibly sent to congratulate Melanie Joly on her appointment as federal Heritage Minister. Here's what Carmel Smyth, National President, Canadian Media Guild (CMG), and Isabelle Montpetit, President, Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada (SCRC) sent Ms. Joly on Wednesday, Nov. 4th.
Dear Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage:
As leaders of the unions that represent the employees of CBC/Radio-Canada, we are writing to you as the incoming Minister of Canadian Heritage. Congratulations on your appointment to this important role, which includes defending and enhancing the valuable cultural and economic contribution of the public broadcaster.
We urge you to please act immediately to stop the ongoing dismantling of CBC/Radio-Canada.
Our members work in communities across the country to create original, independent programming that is available on radio, television, and online, and that is dedicated to informing, enlightening, and entertaining Canadians.
In numerous surveys, and in public events and demonstrations from coast to coast to coast, people from across the country unequivocally agree that CBC/Radio-Canada plays a vital role in nurturing and promoting Canadian cultural identity.
Yet, ideological funding cuts and the strategic direction taken by CBC/Radio-Canada's senior management have systematically crippled the public broadcaster, thereby threatening both its role as the largest and most widely available news organization in the country, and its mandate to produce and promote original Canadian news, information as well as programming and production in areas such as arts and culture, sports and science and technology.
CBC/Radio-Canada's capacity to meet its mandate needs to be restored. Stable, long-term funding is necessary to ensure quality Canadian programming and production that is in the public's interest.
To begin, it is crucial that the current senior management stop any further programming and service cuts, including any further reductions to overall staffing levels.
We are particularly concerned about cuts to local news and regional programming, cuts in in-house production capacity, as well as plans to sell production assets and studios, all part of what CBC President Hubert Lacroix has called "Strategy 2020".
We look to you for leadership and vision to safeguard Canada's public broadcaster for generations to come:
*As CBC/Radio-Canada awaits your government's first federal budget and the pledged reversal of recent funding cuts, we urge you to consider immediate bridge funding, to restore local news services, and in-house audio and visual production capacity.
*Quickly implement a straightforward and independent process to select a new Board of Directors (we have provided suggestions about how this can be done without requiring legislative change), and select a new CBC/Radio-Canada President at the earliest opportunity.
*Reverse Conservative measures allowing political interference in day-to-day operations at CBC/Radio-Canada (Division 17 of Omnibus budget bill 2013)
At its best, we believe that public broadcasting ensures universal access to high-quality journalism, information, and cultural programming — regardless of where Canadians live or how much money they have.
Under your leadership, we can restore CBC/Radio-Canada to a place of pride and build it into a public broadcaster that serves all Canadians well for generations to come.
We are available to meet with you at your earliest convenience and to share more information as you require.
Carmel Smyth, National President, Canadian Media Guild (CMG)
Isabelle Montpetit, President, Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada (SCRC)