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The story behind the CBC shout-out at the White House Correspondents' Dinner
Canada's ambassador to the U.S., Gary Doer, CBC's Susan Bonner and Neil Macdonald at the 2013 White House Correspondents' Dinner.
As told by Susan Bonner, CBC News Washington correspondent.
It is not the kind of shout-out I imagined when I first came to Washington four years ago, but I'll take it. The CBC was recognized at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner for making its broadcast booth available to breastfeeding working moms at the White House.
Several months ago, the president of the correspondents' association asked me if I would be willing to help out some new mom journalists who needed to find a place to express milk. The White House press facilities are notoriously cramped and the two bathrooms are, well, not appropriate. The White House couldn't deliver a space, so Ed Henry and the team at the correspondents' association took their traditional fight for media access to a whole other level.
The CBC shares a tiny broadcast booth with the Christian Broadcasting Network, which provides the work space we need when we work from the White House. Now, a colleague was calling to ask if we'd be willing to share it for a few minutes a day to help these women. Duh. I am a mom and a Canadian who enjoyed what most Americans would see as a luxurious maternity leave. While Obamacare compels employers to provide a space for lactating employees, the White House itself does not. The journalists' employers had no obligation to help out.
So CBC and CBN stepped in. Once a mini-drama of bureaucracy played out over obtaining a privacy corner, the women were set. Happiness all around. And last night I learned that our booth is now affectionately known as "the breast wing." Who said Canadians can't get attention in Washington?