Former Trudeau Foundation scholar sits on CBC advisory panel

Mike Ananny, a former Trudeau Foundation scholar now at the University of Southern California, is among the appointees to the newly-announced CBC advisory panel. Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge did not explain the appointment process.

Former Trudeau Foundation scholar sits on CBC advisory panel
The Canadian Press / Nathan Denette and The Canadian Press / Christinne Muschi
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Federal cabinet refused comment Monday after stacking a CBC advisory panel with seven beneficiaries of federal funding, including a Trudeau Foundation scholar. 

“It’s not even a partisan issue,” Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge told reporters May 7. “It is because Canada deserves to have a public broadcaster that is strong and viable,” she said.

On Monday, St-Onge appointed a seven-member Advisory Committee to “provide advice on how to strengthen and renew the public broadcaster.” The panel will not issue any report, she clarified.

All seven panelists receive federal funding including direct payments from the Department of Canadian Heritage, reported Blacklock’s Reporter

Mike Ananny, a former Trudeau Foundation scholar now at the University of Southern California, is among the appointees. Minister St-Onge did not explain the rigour of the appointment process.

Two subsidized publishers also received the call to join the broadcaster’s panel, including Jennifer McGuire, managing director of Pink Triangle Press, and David Skok, editor of The Logic. Excluding payroll rebates, the publications received $678,437 and $371,294, respectively, in federal grants and contracts last year.

“I want to ensure the CBC is well positioned to face the coming decades in a context where media have great difficulty,” Minister St-Onge earlier told reporters. In February 29 Main Estimates, she raised CBC subsidies by $96.1 million to a record $1.38 billion this year.

“Canadians will have a clear choice in the next election,” said St-Onge. “We think Canada deserves to have a public broadcaster that is strong and viable for decades to come.”

The network also received a $42 million lump-sum in the recent federal budget.

Meanwhile, access to information records disclosed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) said performance bonuses amounted to $14,902,755 last year for 1,143 employees. That number could rise further.

“Why does CBC get more money after laying off workers and managers still collecting bonuses?” asked a reporter. “What we’re doing—because CBC had a deficit—is put money in so that they limit the number of jobs lost,” replied Minister St-Onge. 

The network announced 140 layoffs last December 4 in response to a $125 million budget shortfall last year. “We know the public broadcaster, like private companies in the media sector, are going through a hard time,” she said.

Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre has several times proposed to cut CBC subsidies. Minister St-Onge has ignored those calls.

At a Vancouver rally last month, Poilievre pledged to save $1 billion by defunding the broadcaster, if elected prime minister.

“The CBC frankly is a biased propaganda arm of the Liberal Party and frankly negatively affects all media,” he told reporters in 2023. “We need a neutral and free media, not a propaganda arm for the Liberal Party.”

The CBC on January 15 admitted to posting an “inaccurate” video on Poilievre concerning the housing crisis, adding to their long-standing feud with the Official Opposition. Additionally, they published commentary in 2022 depicting Conservative voters as bigots, and unsuccessfully sued the Conservative Party over use of news clips in a YouTube campaign video.

CBC President Catherine Tait in a 2022 letter complained the Conservative Party “continues to run email blasts and Twitter and Facebook ads falsely accusing CBC journalists of bias and using the ‘defund’ promise to try and generate money.”

Tait and Poilievre have exchanged pleasantries on several occasions, where the former accused the Conservatives of "inciting attacks" on the broadcaster.

"She launched a partisan attack against me,” said Poilievre, “proving my claim that the $1.2-billion corporation is a mouthpiece for Justin Trudeau." At the time, he promoted a fundraising drive linked to a petition on defunding the broadcaster.

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