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Here’s where the parties stand on the CBC

The Bloc and the Greens support increasing CBC’s funding considerably, the NDP merely vows to “maintain the CBC’s current levels of funding until Canada’s budgetary outlook improves,” and the Liberals promise “stable and predictable funding.” The Conservatives didn’t even answer the Guild’s questionnaire.

–  Bloc: increase CBC/Radio-Canada funding to at least $40 per Canadian and Quebecker per year (some $230 million)
–  The Greens: increase CBC/Radio Canada funding by $450 million over the next three years
–  The NDP: stable funding until federal budget outlook improves; this is a step back from the promises in the last two elections to increase CBC funding.
–  The Libs: stable and predictable funding
–  The Cons: NO ANSWER

The Bloc and the Greens also explicitly support an arm’s-length relationship between the government and the public broadcaster. The Bloc reiterates the recommendation of the parliamentary Heritage Committee from 2008, calling on the government to develop a seven-year agreement with CBC/Radio-Canada and provide the funding necessary to fulfill the agreement. The Green Party pledges to restore an arm’s-length relationship with CBC and other national arts organizations and to have a committee of experts appoint the heads of these organizations instead of the party in power. In their responses to our questionnaire, the Liberals and the NDP do not comment on the arm’s-length relationship.

The Conservatives have not provided a response to the Guild questionnaire and their election platform does not mention the CBC.

The Conservatives’ record on the CBC during their minority tenure is mixed. By and large, they have maintained funding at the level of the previous Liberal government. However, the Conservatives have refused to incorporate the $60 million in funding for Canadian programming ? first introduced by the Liberal government as a special fund a decade ago ? into the overall funding envelope. Their approach has two negative consequences. First, funding has not kept pace with inflation and CBC relies on commercial revenue to make up the difference. When that revenue dropped during the 2008-9 financial crisis, CBC was left with no option but to make cuts to staff and programming to dig itself out of a budget hole. Second, the public broadcaster is kept on tenterhooks most years until there is confirmation ? usually mid-year ? that the $60 million is coming. This unhealthy power dynamic can serve to undermine the independence of the public broadcaster.

The previous Liberal government implemented the largest ever cut to CBC’s funding during the mid-1990s. Funding to CBC had increased by the time the Liberals lost power in 2006, but never fully recovered from the major cut of the 1990s.

The opposition parties ? the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc ? unanimously supported a motion in the House in 2006 in favour of maintaining and enhancing funding for the CBC. The Conservatives voted against the motion unanimously. In the meantime, Conservative politicians have taken what might be called a “good cop, bad cop” approach to the CBC:
–  Heritage Minister James Moore, the good cop, has made statements supportive of CBC throughout.
–  Moore’s parliamentary secretary, Dean Del Mastro, wondered aloud at the Heritage Committee in November 2010 whether the government should “get out of the broadcasting business.”
–  In a February exchange with a reporter about whether Bev Oda lied to Parliament who made the decision to cut for KAIROS of this year, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney reportedly made a curious swipe at the public broadcaster, saying “CBC lies all the time.”
–  Prime Minister Harper has been mum on the CBC since taking office. Back in 2004, before he came to power, he mused about putting CBC-TV and Radio 2 “on a commercial basis.”

Before you vote, please make sure the candidate you choose supports the CBC. Click here to read the full responses provided by the parties.

For more information, write to info@cmg.ca or call 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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