CBC/Radio-Canada | CEO Catherine Tait rules out idea of ​​single director for both networks

(Ottawa) Faced with fears that the CBC merger plan with Radio-Canada studied by senior management would result in an erosion of the independence of French-language content, the head of the state corporation indicated Tuesday evening that it rules out the idea that there will ultimately be a single director of the French and English services.

“No, never,” replied Catherine Tait on Tuesday during a brief press scrum at the end of her appearance before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage where she was repeatedly called upon to shed light on the “transformation plan” of the state corporation.

A few minutes earlier, during her meeting with the committee, the Bloc Québécois heritage spokesperson, Martin Champoux, explained to her that she should not expect Quebecers to be reassured while the Conservatives of Pierre Poilievre threaten to “defund” the English network.

“You explained that CBC/Radio-Canada shared infrastructure, buildings, technology, equipment, administration, finances,” he listed. You actually said that CBC/Radio-Canada is a single company except for programming and news. (…) Are you going to get closer where if all that remains to be brought closer is the programming and the news? »

Mme Tait responded by talking about production and distribution equipment and tools. But she maintains that she “swears” that her team keeps “at the heart of all our reflections” the importance of Radio-Canada for the French fact and that there is no question of affecting editorial independence, “ a fundamental principle of our services”.

“Yes… a principle,” repeated Mr. Champoux at the same time. The elected official later explained in an interview with La Presse Canadienne that he was “very, very worried”, so much so that he believes that “it is certain” that the independence, influence and identity of Radio-Canada will be “skinned in there”.

In addition, the elected official maintained that the Bloc’s “proposal” to separate CBC from Radio-Canada into two separate state companies should not be interpreted as support for the Conservatives, who are delighted to note that this would simplify their “definancing” project. It is more of a protection mechanism, according to him.

During his testimony, Mr.me Tait also categorically stated that a merger of CBC and Radio-Canada content is not on the table, but rather aims to “harmonize” the services.

“For me, merging is a pooling of our services. Harmonizing means working together, finding solutions together,” she later clarified to journalists.

The Conservative MP for Lévis—Lotbinière, Jacques Gourde, asked her if she is using Radio-Canada as a “lifeline to save CBC” which, according to him, is “living its last breath.” Mme Tait then praised the successes of the English network without directly answering the question.

Conversely, the president and chief executive officer (CEO) indicated that the merger plan is being studied on her own initiative and that neither she nor her board of directors have been subject to political pressure to take this path.

Evoking his attachment to the public broadcaster, the Liberal Marc Serré, who questioned her, said that his father, when he was sitting in Ottawa in 1971, had brought a petition from Sudbury with 21,000 signatures demanding to have a radio station. -Canada in northern Ontario.

Mme Tait told him it would be “very difficult, almost impossible” to keep Radio-Canada strong where French is in the minority if the Conservatives cut the CBC budget entirely.

“They (the conservatives) are talking about a billion,” she noted. That’s more than half of our budget. If we cut, it will be a disaster for French-speaking media outside Quebec, that’s for sure. »

Called to react to this declaration, the conservative Jacques Gourde judged that “nothing is linked to the impossible in this world”. The mandate of Mme Tait is due to expire in a few months and his replacement “maybe find some solutions to make that possible,” he said.


During her testimony, which lasted more than two hours, Catherine Tait faced an avalanche of questions from English-speaking Conservative MPs regarding the bonuses paid to executives and directors.

The broadcaster had set the table for discussions by making public a letter it had sent in March to the president of the heritage committee in which it accused conservative members of the committee of deliberately broadcasting falsehoods with regard to the state corporation and Mme Tait.

This letter was given to the media by one of his companions before the meeting. MPs Kevin Waugh and Rachael Thomas are denounced for their “false accusations”. Both had accused Mme Tait for lying and misleading the committee about bonuses at a previous meeting.

The CEO rejected the allegations today in an exchange with Mme Thomas on when a decision has or will be made on what bonuses executives will or will not receive this year.

“Either you lied on January 30, or you are lying now,” said the Conservative critic for Canadian heritage.

Mme Tait previously told the committee a decision on bonuses would be made from March, the end of the financial year. But at Tuesday’s meeting, Mme Thomas was offended that the big boss had no update.

“I really object to being called a liar, which has happened on several occasions,” the CEO said, speaking to Mme Thomas. This is the first time in my 40-year career that someone has addressed me this way. »

Mme Tait said no decision on bonuses has yet been made for the 2023-24 financial year, but the matter will be discussed in mid-June with the board. She insisted that this is nevertheless performance pay which is part of the overall total remuneration of certain employees under existing contracts.

In December, CBC/Radio-Canada announced it would cut 600 positions and eliminate another 200 vacant positions, as well as cut $40 million in production cuts to address a projected deficit of $125 million. million.

But the new projected revenues, including the addition of 42 million announced in the federal budget, will make it possible to get through the year without new layoffs, mentioned Mr.me Tait.

In total, the public broadcaster has eliminated 205 vacant positions and laid off 141 employees since December.

With information from Mickey Djuric, in Ottawa

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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