Government seat at the CBC bargaining table - the top of the slippery slope?

OTTAWA, May 3, 2013 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists is deeply concerned over the federal government's decision to set the mandate for and give itself an observer seat at contract negotiations between the CBC and its employee groups.

The government's intentions were released Monday as part of Bill C-60, the first piece of legislation to implement the March 21 federal budget. Parts of the bill, if passed into law without changes, would give powers to the federal treasury board in any CBC contract negotiations with its employees it's never had.

The bill allows the federal cabinet, through the Treasury Board Secretariat, to set the negotiating mandate for CBC's board of directors and management. It also gives the board the right to require a Treasury Board employee who reports directly to a cabinet minister to observe negotiations and makes agreements potentially subject to treasury board approval.

"As the primary source of funding for Canada's public broadcaster, the federal government's stated mandate to rein in spending across all federal programs and services is understood. There's a better way to do that with the CBC than what this bill proposes," CAJ president Hugo Rodrigues said. "The government's relationship with a public broadcaster must remain at arm's length in order to protect the CBC's independence. This bill threatens that independence.

"Bill C-60 shows a shocking lack of confidence in the CBC's board of directors and president - all of whom are appointed by government - to manage the public dollars they're entrusted with. It puts the independence and reputation of CBC journalists at risk."

The deeper worry is once government has a seat at the bargaining table for Canada's public broadcaster, the distance between it and the arm's length existence of the CBC as a Crown corporation becomes markedly shorter. The CBC's independence - or the perception of its independence - will take a hit, only lending some credence to those who already name it something other than a publicly funded broadcaster.

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing over 500 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and public-interest advocacy.

SOURCE: Canadian Association of Journalists

For further information:

Hugo Rodrigues, CAJ president - 519-535-8680 cell,


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