Friday, March 27, 2009

800 less jobs at the CBC: an ideological conservative attack

This post is a bit late, but this topic is really quite an important topic that has angered me quite a bit. The recent cuts that the CBC has had to make are an unmitigated attack on one of the important national institutions of this country by the Conservatives.

The root of the problem is that the government refused to extend a bridge loan to the CBC to help it weather the current economic crisis. The government has refused, creating a $171 million shortfall for the national broadcaster. To deal with this problem, CBC president and chief executive Hubert Lacroix has announced that 800 jobs will be cut and that the CBC will attempt to sell $125 million in assets, pending the government's approval.

Now one has to ask oneself, why did the government refuse to extend a loan of, one would estimate, a $170 million, when there has been more than $30 billion provided for as stimulus in the budget, and another $3 billion to introduce into the economy right away. Alongside these numbers, $170 million pales in comparison.

There is no official statement from the government as to why this seemingly insignificant sum of money could not be provided to ensure that one of our national institutions remains afloat. One can only speculate as to the cause of this lack of funds.

The amount requested by the CBC being small, it would seem that the reason for refusing the loan does not lie with any financial decision making. A $3.171 billion slush fund is hardly different from a $3 billion one. The reason for this decision by our government is ideological.

Consider the other possibilities. We have eliminated the financial one, and there is no sound political reason for the Conservative government to act in this fashion. This action is clearly a politically harmful decision. The optics of it are terrible. In a downturn economy, the government has chosen to do what? Yes that's right, to directly cause layoffs. A very interesting policy indeed. Improving the economy and limiting unemployment starts by laying off people.

The only reason remaining is ideological. It is one of the worse kept secrets in politics that the Conservatives are not friendly to the CBC. During their time in power, they have made significant cuts to the CBC, and now they are trying to use the economic times to continue this trend with a very ill-thought out policy. The Conservatives do not appreciate the CBC or its role in Canadian culture since it is a prime case of a public corporation that is successful, taking at the same time some of the market share away from the private networks owned by the Conservatives' friends.

So what we have here is a government seeking to deliver another blow to an important public institution in dire economic times, with absolute disregard for the 800 people that they are turning out of work. I thought the government was supposed to be of the people, by the people and for the people. Doesn't look like the Conservatives even know what their role is. It's to help people in these tough times, not to make their lives more difficult.

The Conservatives have made a real gaffe in this situation. They have acted in a way that his in sharp contrast to the needs that these hard economic times present and have put their ideology ahead of the interest of the people on whose behalf they are governing.

So as you watch an endless stream of Mosque on the Prairie repeats waiting for the actual new episodes to be aired, ponder whether or not you can trust people who have such detrimental ideology that they would want to cripple a national and cultural institution and put people out of work to do it.
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