Releasing the death-grip on our Canadian voice

Photo Credit: Zachary Chan

Public broadcasting is meant to be the voice of the people; it should be strong, just, and equal. The CBC was established with the intent of informing, enlightening, entertaining, and fostering discussion on a wide range of topics — it was meant to host the many diverse perspectives and encourage thoughtful debate.

The current state of Canadian public broadcasting encompasses everything but these ideals.

Over the past 10 years, the Canadian government has been starving the CBC. Simply put, the Harper Conservatives have carried out cut after cut to this beloved Canadian institution. Since 2008, the CBC has cut over 2,800 jobs, and 1,600 more could be lost by 2020, according to The Huffington Post. The recent announcement that the CBC is considering selling off its properties across the country is just one of the most recent examples of how these cuts have led to a shrinking Canadian voice.

Losing these production spaces in our communities is a truly horrifying and irreversible decision. Once they are gone, it is very unlikely the CBC would have the funds to ever re-purchase the same ones. These spaces are a lot more than just production locations; they are the roots the CBC has in our communities. Ripping them out will completely detach Canadians from their public broadcaster.

The CBC helps define Canada. It has helped build our arts and culture sector, produced countless film and TV series that explore Canadian identity and heritage, provided national news to language minorities, and helped bridge the gap between rural and urban areas in the country. We should be furious that the CBC is being forced to sell properties in order to stay afloat. It’s time to stop the cuts and restore the CBC’s funding so it can be the strong public broadcaster our country needs.

This election, I urge you to consider voting for a party that respects Canadian identity, and sees value in investing in it.

The Canadian Media Guild (CMG), the union representing the CBC employees, has come out strongly against this decision by suggesting that it “seriously jeopardizes the CBC’s ability to do meaningful production in the future.” The CMG is sounding the alarm, and quite reasonably. The CBC being absent from our communities will infringe on the production of our hard-hitting documentaries and news broadcasts, as well as our quality TV programming, and will have devastating influences on the public broadcaster’s future prospects.

In 2012, the Harper Conservatives announced that the CBC would lose $115 million from their $1.1 billion budget over the course of three years. In doing so, they have systematically tried to dismantle this beloved institution; again, as citizens, we should not stand for these cuts that tell us the Canadian voice isn’t worth sustaining.

The fact of the matter is that this sale makes no sense this close to an election, a point the NDP candidate and incumbent Andrew Cash made in a letter addressed to the CBC’s CEO, Hubert Lacroix. In just a few short weeks, Canada may have a federal government that will replenish and sustain everything that broadcaster has lost.

Both the Liberal Party and NDP have made campaign promises to help revive the CBC, so I urge all of you to consider voting for a party that respects Canadian identity, and sees value in investing in it. After all, if we don’t have a public broadcaster that is committed to telling our stories in an independent, just, and fair way, then who will?