These comments were set down in the spring of 1996.
In the 1930's I never heard any CBC radio programs in the French language. I do not recall why. I do recall that we crossed the Ottawa River regularly to visit friends and sometimes relatives in the Belle Provence.
Now I have this notion in my head that the CBC is supposed to promote National unity and as a side effect, cultural tolerance. They must have some terms of reference or an order from the representatives of the taxpayers, approved by the citizens and formalised by the Federal Cabinet in Ottawa. The CBC binds us together like the Trans Canada Highway and Air Canada. Potholes and "air pockets" being inescapable.
What appears to be a strange situation exists in the CBC. Select an English language or a French Language CBC Radio station and you can listen in your language of (limited) choice and not be offended by the language of the other solitude. Is this the CBC's way of promoting cultural tolerance and national unity?
We support two parallel radio networks. In the afternoon both play endless classical music written mostly by German composers and played by foreign orchestras and recorded in other countries. This is done to protect our "culture". They have a budget problem and are not able to figure out how to save half of the money. Unlike Canada Post the CBC only has one head, but it is loosely attached or possibly has a quick connect/disconnect feature. I believe the CBC is well liked despite their problems and reduced ability to mooch money from people that do not subscribe to their vision of Canada.
There is never any Franglais or Anglase heard. Nor is there any slang or patois. It is an exemplary lingual system. They do not have a quality of language problem. Just a communication problem.
So if the CBC really has a mandate to promote bilingualism (which I doubt), national unity, cultural tolerance and so on; maybe someone will publicly fill me in. I feel that a lot of people might be interested to hear some explanations other than those dealing with program scheduling problems.
Now our governments are not used to explaining things, they appear to be mostly interested in explaining things away.
It seems to me that the taxpayer is footing the bill to emphasise that there are only two solitudes the CBC is concerned with. This is probably very acceptable to the P.Q. and their less visible anglophone counterparts.
I do not know the detail of how the CBC was split. It does not look like a good way to promote social cohesion. If that information was available is not unreasonable to believe that the matter could be rectified with a little non partisan thought. If you think I am wrong clue me in, otherwise fill your member of parliament in. They need information to help them make decisions for you.
The Olde Tsaeler, at the Albatross Soup Company said all that now, and more soon.
The CBC .... Part 1 ***Part 2 *** Part 3 *** Part 4.
For your convenience you can go directly to the CBC Web presence from
There is a large amount of information there.
If our political leaders cannot elicit a solution for the CBC dichotomy, the question must be asked "How qualified are they to resolve the political/cultural problems that the CBC mirrors?"
A unified CBC would have some serious program scheduling problems. The employee selection of the CBC supposedly reflects the regions culturally and politically.
If the TV news was in English at 9 P.M. with French subtitles and in French at 10 P.M. with English subtitles, it would cost a lot of extra money. Half the FM radio transmitters and towers could be sold for scrap iron to look after that expense. The solitudes would be exposed to each other. Sometimes we hear the Prime Minister first in one language then in the other. I was told there is an exception for the Prime Minister. I don't know if it extends to Cabinet Ministers.
The P.Q. chauvinists want their own broadcasting system. They also need control of language and education. They are carrying a huge financial burden (Quebec Hydro) which must color their aspirations.
That the CBC mirrors problems and is not part of a solution may be a point in it's favour. Quiet fostering of the autonomy of the so called solitudes might in the long term be best for Canada, who knows. But the CBC does not get money from us for that purpose.
Philosophies supportive of regionalism have been an integral part of the public and private education systems of all the provinces. The CBC respects this. The social strata that have accrued advantage from this arrangement are no longer dominant. The beliefs and attitudes fostered remain. The CBC, precious to many is a sad reflection of our country.
Why does the United States of America appear united at the National scale, and yet they seem to be furiously partisan at the state level. Perhaps one factor might be that they are not burdened with legacies of historic allegiance. They are getting on with the interdependent activities of adapting and innovating. They do not have a CBC equivalent.
The CBC actually recognises three solitudes. Perhaps our first priority should be a reconciliation with the first and oldest solitude. Our governments drag their feet in coming to terms with the original inhabitants of this land, who were here before France or England had kings.
The people of Quebec were lead into Confederation by honorable men. They were innovators. Fragmenters are not innovators; they want to lead people into the past because they are afraid to go anywhere else. Canadians now fear innovation, whether it is political, technical or financial. Fostering innovation is not a conservative thing to do.
Is the CBC a National Institution, or a National Caricature. Can we afford CBC as it has evolved? Do we need it for anything at all? It raises interesting questions.
For your convenience you can go directly to the CBC home page from
There is a large amount of information there.
The terms of reference of the CBC emanate from the Federal Government. Can we expect the Federal Government to reorient the CBC if that is what should be done? Does anyone care?
Our Members of Parliament have been giving us what we want for decades. It was a form of vote buying. Blaming the Anglophones or the Francohones or a minority group will not wash that away.
A century of pandering to the conflicts of two solitudes and ignoring the original inhabitants has not paid off. National Unity should go pretty deep except perhaps here in Canada. The Anglophones are not being gulled anymore than the Francophones or vice versa. The aboriginals have only recently fought their way through our ignorance. Strange how we divide more deeply on language and religion than we do on politics. Two of the touted democratic freedoms of democracy are the most contentiou elements of the European component of our cultural heritage. No politics in kindergarten.
Propaganda emanates from the Belle Provence via all media. They talk about the future, an Orwellian future. The real harm is that a lot of people believe them. The purpose of propaganda is to create a bias. This we must reconcile with freedom of he press. So we must hear what the P.Q. say and let them expose themselves. I have no idea what the Quebecoise learn about the rest of Canada from the media. I have to "trust" the CBC. The separatists are addressing the people of Quebec less than the rest of the country. Do they feel the future of Quebec is not in their hands. Are they actually negotiating with you and me right now.
If I were a P.Q. strategist, my first effort would be to infiltrate the CBC. Does the Francophone component of the CBC communicate with the Anglophone component of the CBC? Fragmentation wins a larger operation and a bigger budget. Does the CBC expect to solve it's national problems in a selfish manner?
It is not likely that the CBC is impregnated with P.Q. moles. After all the P.Q. members are the elected representative of the people of Quebec. If the rest of the country is suspicious of the P.Q. agenda, so must the people of Quebec..
Throwing the baby out with the bath water is generally undesirable to say the least. We have that kind of problem with the CBC. The resolution will be in the hands of our elected representatives in Ottawa.
For your convenience you can go directly to the CBC home page from .
There is a large amount of information there.
To look at any national problem is to look at the Federal Government and thus look at ourselves. After all we do have elections. The so called intelligentsia and erudite academicians have not been very effective in guiding the evolution of Canada. They do point out that there are people worse off than we are. That does not take years of scholarship.
The current Liberal party is the least distasteful as demonstrated by the last federal election.. Some think it is stale and devoid of ideas. Do we really need new ideas? Perhaps we need new people. The Liberals learned a bit when the electorate wisely decimated the Progressive Conservatives. Consider the scenario of only one or two Liberals after the next election. Having cast out one devil we would then be faced with two or would it only be one. Of course, I am biased against the Block Q and the Reform. Not because of their goals but because of their parochial approach. Sure, financial accountability is important when others use your money.
My impractical, probably impossible and simplistic suggestion has been broached in the past by others. Here it is again. Vote for the best candidate without concern for political parties. Frightening. It would require a lot of faith, a lot of courage. It would also require a lot of money. The independent candidates ability to set up a support organisation would affect the results. No one gets elected without community support. But how bad could things be if we sent to Ottawa a majority of Independent Members. First there would probably be a coalition government; preferable to a minority government. But quickly several new political parties could emerge. We are paying the price now for years of political stability which has really just been "keeping the lid on it". A caretaker proposition, let the citizens in on the deliberations and exclude the the political scientists and academics. (Years from now I will come up witha better idea (current redit)). So how do you like them apples? Me, I do not like them at all.
So if these are scary ideas, just look at what we got across this land now, is that not scary. How about a coalition instead of a minority government. Neutralised party whips, members speaking their minds. What would you call that. That is in the hands and mind of the voters.
Is the person you voted for a skilled decision maker.. A clerk at a Canadian chain store suggested a training course for all new Members of Parliament. Very perceptive; but it would be of little avail when the party whip came by. The decisions to be made are not so very complicated, and the people in the ridings are more than willing to help out if they think someone is listening. Every four years or so your Member of Parliament attends a well publicised public meeting. For 10 or 15 minutes they expose themselves to questions from the voters with the competition absorbing some of the heat.. What political party in Canada is fostering more extensive exposure? I do not know of any.
A final question. Would you buy into a commercial Canadian Broadcasting chain responsible to shareholders? A privatised CBC might immediately reduce the work load of your Member of Parliament.
Post Script (October 1996): The CBC is a changin; do not hold your breath. It takes a long time to turn a big boat, eh! Once it is lighter it will be easier to steer, no? Yes? Eh! La!
Another and hopefully my last commentarry about the CBC
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