CBC Smackdown!

David F. Rooney

It’s no secret: some people hate the CBC; others are devoted fans. Personally, I think it makes valuable contributions to Canadian culture and national cohesion.

Take it away and we’ll be left with… what? A number of near-clones of American broadcasting corporations. But that’s what some Conservative MPs seem intent on doing, according to a Globe & Mail story that appeared on its website Tuesday morning.

That hardline Tories despise the CBC is nothing new. When I worked in Ottawa back in the 1970s, Progressive Conservatives whined about the CBC, claiming it den of dangerously liberal Left-Wingers. Others intimated that the national broadcaster should be cut off from taxpayer dollars and forced to hold fund-raising telethons like those poor schmoes at PBS in the States. Don’t laugh! I think they were serious and I’ve heard that same inane threat from other Tories in recent years.

Now, the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting has created a website and petition aimed at getting the Tories to back off. Here’s what they’re saying:

On May 3rd, just one day after the Conservative Party won a majority government, Heritage Minister James Moore said:

“We believe in the national public broadcaster. We have said that we will maintain or increase support for the CBC. That is our platform and we have said that before and will commit to that”.

Minister Moore’s remarks echoed the words of dozens of Conservative MPs who made the same pledge to local voters before and during the election. Yet, just a few months later, Moore changed his tune. During an appearance on the CBC Radio program Q, Moore lowered the boom on the CBC:

“The CBC has to do its part. The idea that the CBC can’t find five per cent efficiencies . . . to give back to the broader economic framework is silly. Of course the CBC will be part of this overall process.”

Since that statement, it has been reported that the government will target the CBC for a 10% budget cut. And if the government cancels an annual “program top-up” of $60 million, the total cut could amount to more than $160 million. A cut of this magnitude would have devastating consequences, further dumbing down of CBC News, cancelling plans for new regional services and even forcing the CBC to close stations.

CBC is not part of the government’s deficit problem. In fact, the CBC’s budget has declined steadily over the years.

Parliamentary Compared to Total Government ExpendituresFunding of CBC

Almost every day, Conservative MPs rise in the House of Commons calling for the de-funding of our national public broadcaster. Some are sponsoring petitions and trumped up “polls” on their websites to attack the CBC. Currently, Rob Anders, the Conservative MP for Calgary West, is circulating an online petition to the House of Commons calling on the Conservative government to “end public funding of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation“.

And, the fundraising wing of the Conservative Party has also launched a loaded survey which asks financial supporters “In recent years, CBC funding has exceeded a billion dollars per year. Do you think taxpayers receive good value or bad value from the CBC?” The fundraising pitch goes on to say that “This survey is very, very important to our legislative planning“.

Conservative MPs have not stopped there. With the head of SUN Media cheering from the sidelines, the Conservatives have also launched offensives against the CBC at two Parliamentary Committees.

When it comes to the CBC, the latest opinion research shows the Conservative government is off side with the Canadian public who hold our public broadcaster in high regard, believe that the CBC is doing an excellent job, and value highly the important role it plays.

If you support the CBC and believe, as I do, that we need a strong national broadcaster you’ll want to sign the the Friends’ petition. You can do so here: