As It Happens

Unions call on CBC president and board to step down

The two main unions representing CBC workers are demanding that president and CEO Hubert Lacroix, and the board of directors, step down for failing to defend public broadcasting. Isabelle Montpetit is the president of the union that represents Radio-Canada employees.
Two unions representing CBC employees are publicly declaring their lack of confidence in Hubert Lacroix, right, and the board of directors. (Left: Nathan Denette/Canadian Press, Right: John Woods/Canadian Press)
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The two main unions representing CBC workers are demanding that president and CEO Hubert Lacroix and the board of directors step down for failing to defend public broadcasting.

"We all as Canadians have to think again about what we want at the CBC," Isabelle Montpetit, president of the union representing employees at Radio-Canada, CBC's French service, tells As it Happens host Carol Off. Montpetit's union, Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada (SCRC), is asking its members to sign a petition calling for these resignations.

Montpetit stresses the importance of the public broadcaster:  "It's important and Canadians have to say that they want news, they want in-depth programming, original angles of reporting and this has to be kept as a national treasure."

The Canadian Media Guild (CMG), the union that represents other CBC employees, is also calling for the changes in leadership. They are not, however, circulating the petition. 

A statement on the CMG's website reads: "Over the last eight years, CBC/Radio-Canada has been systematically ​crippled, with unprecedented  programming cuts across the country and questionable plans to sell off production assets and buildings​, ​which threatens​ the public broadcaster's ability to produce programming in both official languages."

There has to be a distance between the government and the CBC. You can't ask the government to put its hand directly in what a public broadcaster does.- Isabelle Montpetit, president of the SCRC

Both Lacroix and the board of directors were appointed by the outgoing Conservative government. Montpetit accuses Lacroix of failing to defend the public broadcaster in his years as president.

"There's no coherence in what he says publicly. And, he hasn't defended public broadcasting at all during his mandate. Not at all. He never said that they needed more money. He always said that he had enough and he could do fine with what he had."

The Liberals have promised to increase funding for the public broadcaster. Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau also campaigned on a platform that promised to implement an "independent" and "merit-based" process for appointing members to the board.

"I think it's a good idea," says Montpetit. "There has to be a distance between the government and the CBC. You can't ask the government to put its hand directly in what a public broadcaster does."

As it Happens requested an interview with Lacroix, but he was not available. Remi Racine, the chair of the board, also declined to be interviewed, but in an email, he wrote: "I'm happy that the new government wants to invest more in CBC."

(Note: Host Carol Off and producers at As It Happens are members of the CMG.)

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