Moore says 'wait for budget' on CBC funding

Heritage Minister James Moore refuses to give details about CBC's funding allocation for coming years in an appearance before the Commons heritage committee.

Heritage Minister James Moore refused to give details about CBC's funding allocation for coming years when he appeared before the Commons heritage committee on Wednesday.

CBC president Hubert Lacroix spoke to the committee last week about the difficulty in planning when $60 million of the public broadcaster's annual budget is up for review every year.

But Moore declined Wednesday to say if he would make the money, which has been a special allocation in past years, part of CBC's core funding from the federal government, as requested by both Liberal MP Bonnie Crombie and Bloc Québécois MP Carole Lavallée.

"We made a simple, specific promise to Canadians in the last election to maintain or increase funding to the CBC," Moore said.

Kenney comments on CBC

Heritage Minister James Moore faced questions from MPs over remarks made by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney earlier in the day.

Speaking to a Canadian Press reporter questioning him about whether Co-operation Minister Bev Oda had misled the House of Commons, Kenney shot back in French: "Radio-Canada, they lie all the time."

MPs Pablo Rodriguez and Carole Lavallée urged Moore to explain Kenney's statement. Moore refused to comment.

Pressed by Lavallée to defend the CBC, Moore said, "Yes, CBC-Radio-Canada is a Canadian institution essential for the cultural sector."

Asked whether the $60 million would be included in the CBC allocation in the upcoming budget, Moore was noncommittal.

"You'll see when we table the budget," he said.

He said the CBC has not asked the federal government for more money.

CBC's access to information record

He spoke out in favour of the CBC's five-year plan, released last month, proposing increased investment in the regions, in digital technology and in Canadian programming.

But he scolded the broadcaster over its continuing problems meeting freedom of information requests.

"This government supports access to information laws and thinks the public has a right to this information," Moore said in his opening remarks to the committee.

The information commissioner has accused the CBC of stonewalling on the hundreds of information requests it has faced since becoming subject to the Access to Information Act four years ago.

Moore said the CBC risks damaging its credibility if it doesn't fall in line with answering requests.

But he expressed "confidence" in Lacroix, saying the CBC president appeared to be trying to address these concerns.