The Canadian government under the Harper conservatives believes in austerity, privatization, and deregulation. This ideological outlook is a justification, from the perspective of the government, for cuts at the CBC. Conservatives will say that money to the CBC is wasted tax dollars, since privately owned mass media can supposedly do a better job of informing the public without the expense.
And of course, the former Liberal government under Chretien also carried out budget cuts at the CBC, and in a general sense the contemporary Canadian state does not like public broadcasting because it will sometimes embarrass the government and show its all-too-cozy relationship with big business. There are many ways for the federal government to generate revenue and many areas of budgeting that might usefully be streamlined that do not entail a frontal attack on all the country’s public institutions. Austerity is not a necessity, and this is true not only in terms of public broadcasting but also for public funded health care, education, postal service, and many other public services and social programs.
I appreciate that the CBC, as a corporate entity of the Canadian government, cannot necessarily openly join the fight against the Harper conservatives. Furthermore, I appreciate that the individuals working for the CBC are worried about losing their jobs if they speak out publicly about issues outside their purview. This is the case for employees in many different parts of the public sector as well, and it is sad, really, because it comes across as an acceptance or even a legitimation of the logic behind the attack on our public institutions. But a line will have to be drawn in the sand somewhere and that will have to involve more than electing a different party in the next election. The logic of austerity will prevail until civil society gets its act together and fights back.
To the people at the CBC: how much further will you let things go? What will it take for you to get out from behind the notepad and the camera and the editing desk? There are many social movements and labour movements that are already fighting against austerity and are, therefore, already fighting for the CBC. If you want to help save what’s left of our public institutions and if you want to rebuild a decimated Canada, join the people that are already fighting on your behalf. There are many ways to fight back that won’t cost you a job (if you still have a job to keep) because tactics of resistance and subversion are limited only by your creativity. It is time for the people at the CBC to join the fight.
Forget the lights and the camera… it’s time for some action…