Saturday, December 15, 2007

CBC Investigating Collusion Allegations

But an internal probe isn't enough

In the wake of an emerging scandal alleging Liberal party MP Pablo Rodriguez asked a question at the Mulroney-Schreiber hearing that had been written (or at least suggested) for him by a CBC reporter, the CBC has announced it will be launching an investigation into the affair.

On Thursday, Rodriguez asked Mulroney if he had anything to do with the recent decision to auction new allocations of cellular transmission frequencies.

Following a complaint lodged with the CBC ombudsman by the Conservative party, the CBC will be investigating the allegations raised by former Liberal party cabinet minister Jean Lapierre.

The CBC has admitted that the practice is, at the very least, "inappropriate".

"In our view, while the reporter may have been in pursuit of a journalistically legitimate story, this was an inappropriate way of going about it and as such inconsistent with our journalistic policies and practices," announced CBC head of English media relations John Keay. "The particulars of this matter are currently under investigation and will be considered under the disciplinary processes outlined in our collective agreement."

Unfortunately for the CBC, conducting an internal investigation may simply not be enough this time.

When one considers the implications this matter holds for the CBC, its reputaiton, and its status in the public eye, it isn't hard to percieve the lunacy of allowing the CBC to merely investigate itself and calling that the end of it. While previous episodes (including the previously mentioned Christina Lawand editing-cum-hatchet-job episode) could plausibly be written off as mere indiscretions, the discovery of open collusion between the CBC and Liberal party cannot be quietly swept under the rug with a brief apology and a promise of future vigilance.

This time, the CBC has some very serious questions to answer, and there is only one place the public can rest assured it will recieve the proper answers.

That forum is a public inquiry.

This recent affair has raised a good many troubling questions about the CBC, and Canadians deserve answers. Among them:

-Exactly how prominent is such "suggesting" of questions by CBC employees? How many CBC reporters have done this, and how long has it been going on?

-Under what guise has this practice been taking place? Has it been restricted to public inquries, or have CBC personell helped write Question Period queries as well?

-Are these personell doing this as private citizens or as CBC employees? Are they using their CBC credentials to gain access to Liberal party members, or members of any other party, for this purpose?

-Are these reporters doing this on their own time, or during hours billable to the CBC?

-Have any CBC employees made use of CBC assets or resources in service of a political party?

-Has any arrangement been established between the Liberal party members and CBC employees in question whereby such favours are reciprocated in any way, shape, or form?

-Have CBC brass made it clear to CBC employees that such behaviour is prohibited, or have CBC executives made use of a "don't ask, don't tell" approach in regards to such behaviour?

Canadians, who fund the CBC via their tax dollars, have a right to know the answers to these questions, and the CBC should consider itself obligated to answer them in the public eye, not behind closed doors.

An internal probe is not enough. The government should call an official inquiry into this matter so Canadians can get the answers they deserve.

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