A Not-So-Modest Proposal: Resign!

Do any readers of Sketches know a prestigious columnist? If so, why not propose that this week is a good week for Hubert Lacroix, the president of the CBC, to resign on a matter of principle.

The principle? The rule of law. The Broadcasting Act requires the CBC to do its job. At a town hall Thursday, the CBC will reveal its five-year strategic plan to employees and presumably show that the budget shortfall due to federal cuts – $130 million – will leave the Corporation limping. It can only do its job if the government gives it adequate resources. It is failing to do so.

There is a precedent.

At 3 p.m. on February 27, 1998, only 90 minutes before the federal budget was tabled in the House of Commons, CBC president Anthony Manera was handed a single sheet of paper that made him do a double take. In three neat columns, figures spelled out the bleak financial future of the Crown corporation. By 1998, the CBC was expected to chop $270 million from its $1.1 billion budget, including cuts of $100 million imposed by the Tories.

After months of rumbling from the Liberal cabinet, Manera had been suspecting the worst. But he was unprepared for the casual aside at the bottom of the page: Radio-Canada International, an overseas broadcast service operated by Foreign Affairs, was to be re-absorbed by the CBC, along with its annual $15 million price tag.

The next day, at 9 a.m., Manera resigned – citing “purely personal reasons” – in a cryptic letter to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Only later did the president make his reason clear. “I will not preside over the dismantling of the CBC,” Manera told Macleans.

Nor should Hubert Lacroix.

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4 responses to “A Not-So-Modest Proposal: Resign!

  1. David Schatzky

    Another perspective: Lacroix’s resignation would make a statement, but would it change anything? Better to stay in the job, despite the cuts, and reorganize the CBC into the leanest, meanest, best public broadcaster possible under the circumstances. He would have nothing to lose if he protested loudly against the cuts, while saying this is a very bitter pill, but let’s re-design the corporation now to do less but better.

    • I respectfully disagree. This government cares not a fig about any managerial input from Lacroix and will go on damaging the Corporation with ever-deepening cuts until it has disappeared into irrelevance.
      BUT, there seems to be a process engaged — not high profile yet, but gently gathering momentum nonetheless — of isolating the PM on the wrong side of an ongoing series of important public issues. A very public Lacroix resignation, with the reasons frankly stated, would make a substantial contribution to that process. Unhappily, that would be of greater value.

  2. Elisabeth Ecker

    i have noticed that several CBC radio programs are broadcasted on American stations. There could be an income stream by producing excellent programs and financing them by selling them to American stations. There would be a market for Canadian programs in the States as long as this policy would not dilute the Canadian content.

  3. David Schatzky

    Fred, did the Manera resignation accomplish anything, except to be an example of principled behaviour? Would the same action by Lacroix have the same or a different outcome? I’m agnostic on that. Could we end up with a worse president? All this at a time when there’s some groundswell of support and some activism leading to a possible rebirth of the CBC in a better form.