CBC/Radio-Canada details its accountability to Canadians at Access to Information Committee; addresses court decision

November 24, 2011

CBC/Radio-Canada appeared today before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics to address the Committee’s ongoing examination of CBC/Radio-Canada and Access to Information.

President and CEO Hubert T. Lacroix used the opportunity to remind Committee members about the full range of mechanisms by which the Public Broadcaster is accountable to Canadians: “CBC/Radio-Canada answers to an independent Board of Directors, appointed by Government, which oversees our budgets and operations. The Auditor-General reviews our books every year and periodically conducts special audits, one of which is underway now. We provide detailed financial information to the CRTC about our expenditures. We report to our minister and to parliamentarians on our Corporate Plan and with our Annual and Quarterly Reports. And two independent ombudsmen keep our journalism honest.”

In addition to these many layers of accountability, since 2007 CBC/Radio-Canada has been subject to the Access to Information Act. The Corporation has released more than 80,000 pages of records during the last five years and continues to significantly reduce response times. The Corporation proactively makes available on its website all travel and hospitality expenses of its senior executives, along with thousands of other documents released through Access to Information, which provide details about expenses, audits, retreats, agendas, policies, and Board minutes.

The Committee indicated during the hearing that it would be returning, unopened, the un-redacted documents that it had ordered from CBC/Radio-Canada and which were produced under seal: “I’m happy that the Committee has taken notice of our concerns,” said Lacroix.

With respect to the judgment released by the Federal Court of Appeal yesterday, Lacroix said the following: “We are still reviewing the judgment. At first reading, we feel that this judgment clarifies the ruling of Justice Boivin in a manner which might satisfy most of our concerns. This finding is extremely important to us. Protecting our journalistic sources was one of the most important considerations for pursuing this court challenge. As we have said from the beginning, the courts are the appropriate place for this to be decided.”

“Accountability and transparency are central to our philosophy, and critical to our credibility,” added Lacroix. “But so is protecting our journalistic, programming and creative independence – the very things that define a public broadcaster. I believe both our systems of governance and our actions demonstrate our commitment to those commitments.”

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About CBC/Radio-Canada

CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada's national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. The Corporation is a leader in reaching Canadians on new platforms and delivers a comprehensive range of radio, television, Internet, and satellite-based services. Deeply rooted in the regions, CBC/Radio-Canada is the only domestic broadcaster to offer diverse regional and cultural perspectives in English, French and eight Aboriginal languages, plus seven languages for international audiences. In 2011, CBC/Radio-Canada is celebrating 75 years of serving Canadians and being at the centre of the democratic, social and cultural life of Canada.

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