Federal Court judgment needs clarification

June 25, 2012, Ottawa

CBC/Radio-Canada will appeal the Federal Court’s decision involving the complaints the Commissioner of Official Languages received about programming changes at the CBEF station in Windsor further to 2009 cutbacks.

Although Justice Martineau indicates in his decision that “the CRTC is in a better position than the Federal Court to assess the effects of budget cuts on the Corporation’s programming, including those at the CBEF station in Windsor,” he nevertheless concludes that the CRTC and the Commissioner of Official Languages have concurrent jurisdiction to adjudicate on complaints from linguistic minorities about the public broadcaster’s programming.

“We are pleased that the Court recognizes that the CRTC is in a better position to rule on programming complaints, including those from official language minority communities,” said Maryse Bertrand, Vice-President, Real Estate, Legal Services and General Counsel for CBC/Radio-Canada. “But by establishing that there are two forums with conflicting interests for settling a given dispute, this decision opens the door to long, multiple, costly legal debates and conflicts. The judgment is likely to hamper programming decisions and services offered to official language minority communities.”

CBC/Radio-Canada fully acknowledges the Commissioner’s jurisdiction in many areas affecting the public broadcaster, such as in communications with its employees and the public. Yet, when it comes to programming, francophones and anglophones in minority communities who disagree with the public broadcaster’s programming decisions already have a proper and open forum to share their views, namely the CRTC.

The Court also recognizes that the CRTC sees the big picture in matters of broadcasting and programming for official language minority communities, a specialization which does not rest with the Commissioner of Official Languages. The Broadcasting Act already imposes on the public broadcaster strict obligations with regards to the Official Languages.CBC/Radio-Canada fulfils these obligations with great enthusiasm and commitment using the resources it has to carry out its mandate.

Official language minority communities would have a lot to gain from a clear and efficient exclusive process for filing complaints.

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.

For additional information, please contact:
  • Angus McKinnon
    Director, Communications Services and Corporate Spokesperson
    tel. 613-288-6235
    cel. 613-296-1057

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