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Conservatives cement their cuts to CBC despite a surplus: CMG

The Conservative government of Stephen Harper has failed to use its last opportunity before the federal election to reverse its debilitating cuts to our national public broadcaster.

The federal budget tabled today contains a slight surplus of $1.4 billion that was made possible in part by money raised from the wireless spectrum auction. The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) has been calling for a percentage of those proceeds to be directed to the CBC, which like the spectrum is a communication asset owned by Canadians. Even though a small percentage of those funds would have eased the CBC’s financial crisis, the government chose not to go that route.

“For a government that says it listens to Canadians, they aren’t listening to the majority who have been calling for support for the public broadcaster in survey after survey. Since the Conservatives came to power in 2006, there is now less original programming, more repeats, and thousands of CBC/ Radio-Canada jobs have been lost in communities across the country,” said Marc-Philippe Laurin, CBC Branch President at CMG.

Laurin added that it’s important to note that in the last election, the Conservatives ran on a promise of no cuts to CBC/Radio-Canada. “In fact, the then-minister for Heritage James Moore pledged that the government would “maintain or increase support for the CBC”; the Conservatives cut the CBC by $115-million ten months later,” Laurin said.

“The government had a choice in this budget. It could have directed money to reversing their damaging cuts to CBC. It chose not to do that. This is now the Conservative record going into the election,” says Lise Lareau, National VP of CMG.

In commenting on what kind of investment is needed to support a vibrant CBC, Lareau said CMG has proposed a $43.50 investment a year per Canadian for CBC, up from $29 currently. “This would just get us to about half the average of what other developed countries invest in their public broadcasters,” she said.

The NDP, Liberals and the Green Party have committed to reversing the Conservative cuts, and to guaranteeing the public broadcaster’s independence.

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