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Algonquin Park has moved?

Facebook posted this news story the other day:

One wonders why they used a photo of downtown Ottawa to head a story about an event in Algonquin park! That’s not Highway 60, it’s Rideau street. Note the Château Laurier right there behind the police cruiser.


Image capture from Facebook.com

All the Walmarts

The news has been all about how two suspected murder suspects were caught at the Walmart just a few kilometres from where I live. I’m amused by the CBC News because they’ve been reporting the suspects were apprehended at a Niagara Falls Walmart, as if there is more than one Walmart in Niagara Falls.

There isn’t.

Evan, we hardly knew you

Evan Solomon really blew it. In addition to his duties on CBC News’ Power & Politics, and CBC Radio’s The House, it seems he’s been directing the people he meets and interviews to a friend who runs an art business. For this service, Solomon received 10% of any sales resulting from his referrals.

CBC News editor in chief Jennifer McGuire said, “he assured us, this could not in any way conflict with his work for CBC News.” Honestly, either she’s not being truthful, or is naive to the point where she must have difficulty functioning in society.

On The National this evening, CBC President Hubert Lacroix said there is a zero tolerance to violating journalistic ethics, so Solomon had to go. I agree that Solomon had to go, but zero tolerance? Why is Amanda Lang still part of the news team?

You can’t refer people you interview to an art dealer for profit, but you can be intimately involved with a bank board member, and try to have the content of stories about that bank changed even though the story isn’t yours? That’s okay?

They had Solomon out the door within 24 hours of this info coming out, and Lacroix really wants to be seen as running a tight ship, but something stinks in CBC-land.

Welcome to the sidelines

My MP … he’s something else. In case you haven’t been following along, my Parliamentary representative is Rob Nicholson. He was Minister of National Defence until recently, when the Prime Minister assigned him the Minister of Foreign Affairs portfolio. I cringe at the thought that he’s our face to other nations, but I suppose he was given this portfolio because he’s well behaved. All that I’ve seen leads me to believe that he’s an empty shirt as my MP, and while that’s far from ideal for the person in charge of foreign affairs, I suppose it’s better than a bull in a china shop. I’m trying to see the bright side.

Last week, he tweeted something I found astonishing:

It sounds like a call to arms given that the folks in ISIL aren’t the talkative types. Still, I don’t know what the man’s thinking so I asked in reply.

You can guess what happened. Exactly nothing. So Monday, I wrote to him directly, via e‑mail. Receiving no answer, I wrote again today reminding him that I’m waiting for a reply. I also suggested that I thought this would be an easy question. Surely the Minister wouldn’t post such a thing without at least having a course of action in mind.

I’d hate to think it was merely the Twitter equivalent of a sound-bite that he expects will be quickly forgotten.

CBC News is a joke

On The Sunday Edition this morning, host Michael Enright sat down with Stéphane Dion, the Liberal critic for Canadian Heritage, to discuss the Liberal vision for the CBC. What struck me is Enright’s introduction to the story. He brought up the dilemma of how the CBC should report on itself.

This inspired me to write a comment on the Sunday Edition web site:

I’m surprised you’d even ask about the dilemma of how the CBC should cover itself. Having been a longtime CBC News watcher/listener, I’ve seen it first-hand. The answer is to cover the CBC only to distance itself from any problematic people (Jian Ghomeshi) or ignore the real stories entirely (Rex Murphy, Peter Mansbridge, and Amanda Lang). More than anything, the CBC’s reaction to the Lang affair is what ended my nearly thirty-year reliance on the CBC as my primary news source. CBC News, as an organization, has forgotten its purpose and cannot be trusted to uphold basic journalistic integrity.

A couple of years back, the CBC reported that the Royal Bank brought in foreign workers to do jobs that Canadians could have done. Canadaland reported that Amanda Lang unsuccessfully tried to get the story scuttled. Later, Lang wrote an opinion piece for the Globe and Mail about how the story was a non-issue. She did this entirely of her own volition, and broke CBC News rules in the process. Then, she had Royal Bank CEO Gord Nixon on her show for a softball interview. What really blew my mind is that while she reported on the Royal Bank, she was in a serious relationship with W. Geoffrey Beattie, who also is the chair of the Royal Bank’s Risk Committee, on their human resources committee, and member of the Royal Bank board.

Once this story broke, how did the CBC handle it? By circling the wagons. CBC Head of Public Affairs Chuck Thompson told CanadaLand,

Amanda did declare her relationship with Geoff Beattie to her executive producer (Robert Lack) and he has the appropriate processes in place.

What were these appropriate processes? We have no idea. I’d suggest that there are no appropriate processes for this situation. She should have not been involved in the reporting of the story, period. Her working to influence the story tells me she doesn’t have any idea what journalist integrity means.

You’ll recall Gordon Hewart’s famous words about justice,

justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done

I’d suggest the same is true for conflicts of interest. Not only must there be no conflict of interest, but there must not be even the perception of any conflict of interest. Putting some alleged backroom control into place isn’t nearly enough. Reporting the news is entirely about trust. Every time I see Amanda Lang reporting the news, I am reminded that the CBC is not worthy of my trust.

It saddens me because I genuinely like the CBC, but also for all the other reporters and worker who strive to do the right thing. They’ve been betrayed by management and some of their co-workers.

What really closed the book on my trust in the CBC was the response Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief of CBC News, posted about this mess. In part, she said,

It is unfortunate that our internal processes are fodder for external debate by people who have their own agendas.

Can you believe the cluelessness? She’s running a publicly funded organization and calls it unfortunate that taxpayers are learning about what their tax dollars are funding. Further, the business of news organizations is to do exactly this sort of thing! I suspect she thinks it’s unfortunate Lang was caught rather than it being unfortunate we learned about their internal processes.


Sunday Edition image © CBC

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