Statement made on 25 March 2009 by Senator Marie-P. Poulin (Charette)
Hon. Marie-P. Poulin:
Honourable senators, today is a very sad day for public broadcasting and for all Canadians, from one end of the country to the other. At 12:45 p.m., we learned that some 800 employees of CBC/Radio-Canada will be laid off because of a drop in advertising revenue.
These layoffs are a blot on our reputation as a steward of the public broadcaster since it was made a Crown corporation in 1936. As a former CBC/Radio-Canada producer and a former vice-president of the corporation, I am concerned about its steadily diminishing ability to fulfil its mandate under Canada's Broadcasting Act. One of the many consequences of this declining ability is increased dependence on advertising revenues.
This reduced capacity and dependence on external sources of revenue not only constitute interference in the private broadcasting sector because of increased competition for advertising revenue, they violate the fundamental principle underlying public broadcasting around the world.
Honourable senators, CBC/Radio-Canada deserves consistent, stable funding to meet its obligations as a public broadcaster. It offers a public service in both official languages and several Aboriginal languages through radio, television and the Internet. Every community in this country — be it Gaspé, Dieppe, the Greater Toronto Area, Winnipeg or Richmond, British Columbia — deserves access to the national broadcasters, in both languages, and they deserve to be seen and heard.
Honourable senators, as members of the chamber of sober second thought, we must take a stand together in the best interests of Canadians and of every region of this country.