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Ethics committee gives Quebecor a bully pulpit

The parliamentary ethics committee is meeting this morning in Ottawa to hear from Quebecor’s Pierre Karl Péladeau about CBC/Radio-Canada and access to information. The media boss is being given a forum to beat up on its biggest competitor in Quebec.

The Canadian Media Guild, which represents journalists at CBC/Radio-Canada and at six other media organizations in Canada, believes MPs are examining the wrong question.

“Access to government information is an important public policy that doesn’t work very well in practice,” points out Marc-Philippe Laurin, president of the Guild’s CBC/Radio-Canada branch. “Our members on the frontlines use access to information regularly to break important stories in the public interest. At a time when journalistic resources are shrinking, it’s taking more and more time to get a hold of information. That’s what needs to be addressed.

“Instead, the committee has been drawn into a ‘dirty war’ aimed at undermining the public broadcaster as we head into a difficult federal budget and appears to be serving the interests of a private company,” Laurin says. “In Quebecor’s case, ATIP is being used as a weapon and not a tool.

“We’re not saying that the committee shouldn’t examine CBC’s approach to access to information,” Laurin adds. “But MPs need to consider the CBC in the context of all of the other federal departments, agencies and institutions that have a poor record in providing information to the public. We urge the committee to look at improving the law to make it clearer and more proactive.”

The Guild is scheduled to appear before the ethics committee on October 27. You can view our brief to the committee here.

For more information, contact the Guild (info@cmg.ca) at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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