Back in 2004 before the newly merged Conservative Party won their first minority government, Stephen Harper made his views on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation quite clear. “I think when you look at things like main English-language television and probably to a lesser degree Radio Two; you could look there at putting those on a commercial basis.” He said.
Before he was even Prime Minister, Harper was advocating the defunding, sale or commercialization of the government owned CBC. Since taking office, the conservatives have done what they can to diminish the importance of the CBC. First by defunding the station by about $75 million a year, next by appointing Hubert Lacroix as the president of the CBC. Lacroix is a mergers and acquisitions lawyer (and Conservative party donator) with no management experience in radio or television production.
More recently the fate of the CBC has been in the news again thanks to comments made by Dean Del Mastro, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. He pondered openly about cutting all funding to the CBC saying “do you think it’s time that the Canadian government looks at it and says maybe it’s time we get out of the broadcasting business and get into investing more money into content?”
By investing in content Del Mastro meant he would rather help fund bigger television companies make bigger programs. I’d rather not give Shaw Media (Global) or CTV Globe Media my tax dollars thank you. A couple hours of Canadian content per week just doesn’t cut it; even then it’s mainly news.
Unlike the other national networks, the CBC produces good Canadian entertainment and information broadcasts rather than buying endless amounts of American programming. The CBC is and should always be run and owned by the Canadian people; otherwise we lose part of our identity. Imagine this country without HNIC, David Suzuki, Kids in the Hall, SCTV or even Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Canadian tax payers fork out a billion dollars annually to fund the CBC and much to Stephen Harper’s displeasure the people don’t mind. According to Nanos Research, 63% of Canadians don’t mind funding the network in contrast to the 23% that do. That 23% represents about the same percent that make up the conservative base in Canada, coincidence?
Stephen Harper and his old Reform Party buddies all went to the same school of Republican Conservatism and won’t be truly satisfied until most government assets are either sold off or privatized. You’ll never get them to admit it at present with a minority government, but if they were to win a majority our public schools, public health care and public broadcaster would never be the same.
Luckily there are many of us that care enough about the CBC to take a stand against this type of thinking. This includes Ian Morrison; spokesperson for FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting, a non-profit watchdog group for Canadian programming. Back on December 13th Ian Morrison and FRIENDS launched an online petition in order fight back against any threat from the conservative posse. In this short time they already managed to acquire 60,000 signatures. If you haven’t already, I encourage everyone to take two minutes and sign the petition. After all, it’s our CBC.