A year ago, a then-Conservative MP tabled a private member bill (C-461) that would oblige the CBC to make public an unprecedented amount of information that other news networks are not forced to disclose. The idea of revealing things like “journalists’ confidential sources” – a treasured principle – and other information about “news” programming, made many of us nervous. The bill also demanded access to salary information at the CBC/SRC, something we argued the government could easily access through other means.
In collaboration with other media advocacy groups like Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and Fédération Professionnelle des Journalistes du Québec (FPJQ), we fought back.
Now in an unprecedented move, the now-independent MP Brent Rathgeber has renounced the very bill he introduced, in part over a dispute with his Conservative colleagues on amendments he made on his own bill such as removing all references to the CBC and salary disclosure levels for public servants. The Conservatives voted down all his changes.
Whatever the reason, we salute MP Rathgeber for listening when journalism advocates across the country exposed the extent to which the bill would harm the work of journalists at the CBC, and set a dangerous precedent for government interference in the news business in Canada.
National President, CMG