OTTAWA – The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), invited to appear before the Standing Committee on Finance to discuss Bill C-60 on the implementation of the budget, has warned the government about dangerous interference in the affairs of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
“Independence is one of the fundamental principles of public broadcasting. Without autonomy of management, we are talking about a state broadcaster, not a public broadcaster. The principle of ‘arm’s length’ independence exists at the CBC precisely so that the public broadcaster does not become a propaganda tool in the hands of the government—no matter who forms the government,” pleaded Denis Bolduc, secretary general of CUPE Quebec.
Bolduc said that the Broadcasting Act explicitly protects the independence of the CBC vis-à-vis the government, and that there are many rigorous mechanisms of accountability for the CBC already in place.
“The CBC reports to the Heritage Minister, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), and the Auditor General,” clarified Bolduc.
Bill C-60 will change the status of the CBC and the 48 other crown corporations by subjecting the working conditions of their employees to the dictates of the Treasury Board.
“The adoption of this new legislation would in fact sweep aside decades of Canadian democratic tradition and upset labour relations throughout the country,” deplored Bolduc on behalf of the 1,800 workers of the Syndicat des employés de bureau et professionnels de la SRC (CUPE Local 675) and the Syndicat des techniciens et artisans du réseau français (STARF) of Radio-Canada.
With more than 111,000 members in Quebec, CUPE represents approximately 8,150 members of the communications sector in Quebec.
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