Conservative party continues its attack on the CBC
// Lindsay Flynn

When asked at a national student journalism conference what she would say to the reality that we live in a capitalist society and, “you know, money talks,” Jo-Anne Roberts, CBC radio journalist and host of All Points West, replied, “Yes. And what does it say? It says more money.”

When media, in any form, is owned by private citizens, it only stands to reason that the news reported by them may be prone to say, oh, I don't know … bias against organizations and issues that conflict with their business goals. As Mr. John Mayer crooned, “When they own they information . . . they can bend it all they want.” Thus, the importance of our publicly owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

Because the CBC does not rely on advertising investors exclusively, it is less prone to be influenced by the same advertisers whose products are in direct conflict with the news being reported (think car ads running alongside coverage of the Enbridge pipeline). In the mandate of the CBC, it states among other goals, to “actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression … contribute to shared national consciousness and identity … [and] reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada.” Pretty good goals for something my tax dollars are going to, if you ask me.

There are some in Canada who do not share my love of the CBC, with one of the biggest critics being the current Conservative government. The first day back in the House of Commons, Jan. 31, saw four conservative M.P.s present petitions to cut all funding to the CBC.

Conservative MP Brian Jean went on record saying, “[The] Government of Canada funds the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to the sum of $1.1 billion per annum; that vast amount of Government of Canada funding gives the CBC an unfair advantage over its private sector competitor … [We] call upon Parliament to end public funding of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation."

Say what? Implying that the CBC has an unfair advantage over private competitors, such as CTV, for example, is not only inaccurate but ridiculous. CTV, the CBC's obvious competitor in the private sector, is owned by none other than Bell Media … a multi-billion dollar corporation.

By the end of September 2011, the federal government had announced a ten per cent budget cut to the CBC, which will cost thousands of people their jobs. While I don't agree with budget cuts to arts and culture in any context, the 2012 anti-CBC rhetoric coming out of Ottawa last week is hitting new heights. Calling for an end to funding of the CBC, and thus resulting in its demise or privatization, is further evidence that the current government feels deeply threatened by the CBC on an ideological level.

To be specific, the CBC espouses values that are integral to the very function of journalism; values that are directly opposed to the Conservative agenda. The Conservative push to eliminate CBC funding is an overt attempt to silence the voices of those they see as political dissenters. This isn't to say that the Conservative Government doesn't claim to promote Canadian culture and multiculturalism, but here the government pays lip service while blatantly pushing their own agenda – more money.

I am glad that Canada is a standout among countries during economic uncertainty. I am glad that our own economy is growing increasingly independent of our neighbours to the south. I didn't vote for Stephen Harper, but I'm a fair person, and I am grateful that he has proved his merit at keeping Canada's economy afloat. His government's fevered suggestion of the elimination of the CBC, however, leaves me beyond disturbed. Broadcasting, which has a mandate of reporting for the people, free of the influence of privately owned corporations, has a responsibility to answer to the people. I believe the CBC does just that, responsibly, brilliantly, and passionately. Any move to silence the CBC is to silence the voice of the people, and that's as undemocratic as it gets.

//Lindsay Flynn, writer

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com