On January 15, 2015, CUPE learned that a lone consortium will be bidding to buy Radio-Canada’s headquarters in Montreal, after the withdrawal of another consortium which had qualified for the public-private partnership (P3). Although the process had selected three consortia and the management of Radio-Canada had guaranteed strong competition, there is only one player left in the race.
CUPE, which has spoken out against the lack of competition in P3s for years, did warn Radio-Canada/CBC President and CEO Hubert T. Lacroix that the convoluted and needlessly long process would end in failure.
First a consortium which SNC-Lavalin was participating in withdrew. Now the Broccolini Construction consortium has withdrawn from the process, leaving only a consortium spearheaded by Busac. That company, which Le Devoir reports had been “at the heart of the UQAM Ilot Voyageur fiasco,” will not have any competition and will be able to bid whatever it chooses.
“They are selling off Radio-Canada to a consortium with no competition. It is ridiculous to do this with a public service. Radio-Canada should stop the process,” said Michel Labrie, president of STARF-CUPE 5757, representing technicians and craftspeople.
CUPE proposed that Radio-Canada sell its real estate assets to the Canada Lands Company or simply keep them. Radio-Canada was never able to demonstrate with supporting figures why it wanted to sell its assets to the private sector. CUPE believes it was a purely ideological decision.
“We are willing to examine all options with Radio-Canada management. We will step forward to ask for the federal government’s cooperation. Hubert T. Lacroix has to wake up and defend Radio-Canada once and for all,” said Isabelle Doyon, president of CUPE 675.
One of the characteristics of P3s is that they limit competition. In this case, competition was completely eliminated. The lack of transparency surrounding the P3 for Radio-Canada’s headquarters left CUPE members fearing the worst. CUPE members believe that public management of the crown corporation’s real estate assets would be the ideal approach.
CUPE has represented workers at Radio-Canada for more than 40 years. Today, it represents more than 1,800 employees in two unions, the Syndicat des technicien(nes) et artisans du réseau français de Radio-Canada (STARF-CUPE 5757) and CUPE 675.