L’affaire Jian Ghomeshi – Ottawa must order inquiry into CBC

“While the CBC has launched an internal investigation, using a lawyer who has appeared on the CBC with limited terms of reference, it’s time for Ottawa to step in and order a public inquiry that will get to the bottom of this scandal. Canadians, who fund the CBC, have a right to know if Ghomeshi is an isolated case, or the tip of the iceberg.”

Sun comment masthead

“The Ghomeshi situation and more importantly how CBC managers … are now handling (it) reveal a service that is ripe with toxic calamity … CBC has always been a top heavy organization with an army of managers whose sole purpose is to plan for, and attend meetings. This is the fat that needs to be trimmed. … Things just need a drastic change.”

JianNovember 12, 2014

Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun

Much has been written about the Jian Ghomeshi affair.

However, in its aftermath, it seems CBC management is more interested in saving its own skins than addressing the problem of alleged bullying and harassment of staff at the CBC, especially of young women.

The recent interview of CBC’s head of English programming, Heather Conway, by Peter Mansbridge, seems like such an attempt.

It was an “advertorial”— in effect, an advertisement for Conway disguised as an objective news report, to lend credibility to the CBC’s version of events.

Had Conway wanted to be transparent, she could have called a press conference and faced all of Toronto’s media.

Instead, consistent with her public relations background, and as the Toronto Star reported, she agreed to be interviewed by Mansbridge, CBC radio host Carol Off, and the Globe and Mail. The Star, which broke the Ghomeshi story, said it had asked for an interview with the CBC “at least a dozen times” since Oct. 26.

Heather Conway(Before coming to the CBC, Conway served as CEO at Edelman Public Relations and also worked for Hill and Knowlton and The Neville Group).

If the allegations concerning his conduct are true, Ghomeshi deserves contempt, but his actions occurred under the umbrella of the CBC and they go back many years.

As freelance journalist Jesse Brown, one of the reporters who broke the Ghomeshi story noted on his website, Canadaland.com, in her interview with Mansbridge, Conway “angrily contested any suggestion that executives knew anything more than rumours about Ghomeshi before April. And even after the spring, when Ghomeshi came forth to deliver … his ‘alternative lifestyle/jilted ex’ defence, Conway and her team took pains to ‘assure themselves’ that this was completely a matter of Ghomeshi’s personal life, one which never affected the workplace.”

Speaking to CBC Radio, Conway told Off that Ghomeshi told CBC this, “wasn’t actually a story about the CBC … it was a story about Mr. Ghomeshi’s private sex life.”

(According to Brown, “Q staffers knew this to be false and they knew that management knew it was false.”)

Brown reports that as early as March 27, Ghomeshi pulled two Q producers aside for a private chat and revealed his “rough sex” story, and that he might be exposed in the press.

One producer had a meeting with a senior CBC executive, where he recounted Ghomeshi’s confession and was later transferred to another show.

As Chris Kayaniotes, a former CBC producer who now works for Sun News posted on Facebook:

“The Ghomeshi situation and more importantly how CBC managers … are now handling (it) reveal a service that is ripe with toxic calamity … CBC has always been a top heavy organization with an army of managers whose sole purpose is to plan for, and attend meetings. This is the fat that needs to be trimmed. … Things just need a drastic change.”

While the CBC has launched an internal investigation, using a lawyer who has appeared on the CBC with limited terms of reference, it’s time for Ottawa to step in and order a public inquiry that will get to the bottom of this scandal.

Canadians, who fund the CBC, have a right to know if Ghomeshi is an isolated case, or the tip of the iceberg.

It’s not just the alleged assaults on women that are despicable; it’s the use of male power over vulnerable young women, apparently right under the noses of CBC management, that need to be investigated.

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