CBC/SRC, a dysfunctional TV | The Journal of Montreal

Our public broadcaster has been dysfunctional for a long time.

It is the image of the country. If Canada is stuck in a constitutional straitjacket from which it has little chance of breaking free, this is not the case for the public broadcaster. The federal government can clarify its mandate, modify its governance, reform it, tear it to pieces and even shut it down. For now, only Pierre Poilievre has CBC/Radio-Canada in his sights, but his intentions do not bode well for anyone who believes in the need for a public broadcaster.

The new Conservative leader, who grew up in Saskatchewan, is aware of the importance of the French network for Francophones outside Quebec, but he is also aware of the total indifference of Anglophones, particularly those in the West, towards the CBC. . Few would step up if Poilievre, once prime minister, reduced the CBC to its bare bones.


Mario Girard, journalist at The Press+, did not have to investigate long to discover that there are “strong tensions between Radio-Canada and CBC”. They were present the first time I worked with the CBC during the royal visit in 1959 and they have never stopped since. During the referendums on the independence of Quebec, the usual tensions between the two networks were further exacerbated by the remarks of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Jean Chrétien who believed that all the floors of the great tower were invested by the separatists.

Today, according to Mario Girard, the multiculturalist policies and the various “woke” tendencies to which the personnel of the CBC adhere more easily than those of Radio-Canada are a source of tension.

The public apologies that the CRTC had asked Ricardo Lamour to make (he had filed a complaint because the title of Pierre Vallières’ book had been said on the 15-18) were the most recent bone of contention between the two networks.

Tomorrow it will be something else. The tension has always been « systemic » between the CBC and Radio-Canada. It will last until the end of time. Unless we come to the creation of two independent networks, each with its own direction. This hypothesis, which the federal government will never consider, would not however change much. Along with their legal entity, the logo is pretty much all CBC and Radio-Canada share.


Montreal doesn’t know what Toronto is doing and Toronto doesn’t know what Montreal is doing. If the CEO is French-speaking, he has an excellent understanding of the French network, but knows little of the English network. If he is Anglophone, he knows everything about the English network, but almost nothing about the French network, except what the annual report publishes. As for the members of the board of directors, all appointed by Ottawa, most – sometimes all – know nothing about broadcasting. Their only power is that which the CEO wants to leave them, whom they cannot dismiss under any circumstances, because he is irremovable, just like the chairman of the board. Both are nominated by Ottawa.

In the hope of having an objective and distanced view of the two networks, Pierre Juneau, CEO from 1982 to 1989, had taken up residence in Ottawa. Catherine Tait, current CEO, also resides in Ottawa, but not for the same reason. According to what was declared to The Press+ Michel Bissonnette, vice-president of the French network, Madame Tait has “incredible leadership”.

From what we should understand from Bissonnette’s remarks, it was Ms. Tait herself who allegedly offered, in July, to comply with the apologies requested by the CRTC, which had neither the authority nor the jurisdiction, while deciding to appeal the CRTC’s decision. Does this Solomonic judgment demonstrate “incredible leadership”? I’m not quite sure.


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