The voice of members of The Canadian Media Guild, Fredericton.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Tory MP: CBC is not Wal-Mart; Rabinovitch should testify

Longtime Conservative MP Greg Thompson says he will work towards having CBC president and CEO Robert Rabinovitch testify before the House of Commons Heritage Committee when Parliament resumes later this month.

Thompson met on Thursday with locked-out members of the Canadian Media Guild who work in Fredericton. Parts of his riding, New Brunswick Southwest, receive the CBC signal from Fredericton.

Thompson told the Guild members that Rabinovitch is "not answerable to anybody" since he's been filling in as chairman of the CBC board for most of this year. The board is supposed to oversee the performance of top executives like Rabinovitch.

"He has an obigation to appear before the Committee," Thompson said, "because the Canadian people are entitled to know where the CBC is going. We can't allow Mr. Rabinovitch to hide under the furniture for the next five or six weeks."

The government has named a new chair, Guy Fournier, whose appointment must be reviewed by the Heritage Committee. That should provide the committee with a rationale to call Rabinovitch as a witness as well, Thompson said.

On the issue of demands by CBC management to hire new employees on contract, Mr. Thompson remarked that "You can't run a national broadcaster like Wal-Mart." He said one of his biggest frustrations with the media is being interviewed by reporters who don't understand the history or context of a story.

Thompson told the Guild members he's been holding back on a news conference, about a probe into the use of Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown, until the CBC returns to normal operations. He said the CBC broke the story and is the only broadcaster with the ability to pursue it.

Some of his constitutents who live near CFB Gagetown believe they developed serious health problems, some fatal, because of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides on the Base.

A CBC investigation led to an angry public meeting with top defence officials earlier this year. It was televised live across the country by CBC and led to a federal probe of concerns among military personnel, veterans and nearby residents.

Thompson said he misses that kind of coverage now, given he's joined the fight against plans for LNG terminals on the Maine side of Passamaquoddy Bay, just across the water from the small town of St. Andrews.

"Without the CBC, you can't ratchet stories on LNG to the national level. Only the CBC has the ability to take a little local St. Andrews story and put it on the national news," Mr. Thompson said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez-He gets it! Local CBC news matters! I only wish more politicians would speak up like that! Right on, Greg!!

9:41 PM


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