POLITICS

Amanda Lang speaking gigs under review, CBC exec tells senators

02/17/2015 02:24 EST | Updated 04/19/2015 05:59 EDT
CBC executives who appeared before a Senate committee to discuss the future of the public broadcaster also faced questions about internal investigations underway at the corporation.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio-Canada president and CEO Hubert Lacroix and executive vice-presidents Heather Conway and Louis Lalande faced questions about current business correspondent and TV host Amanda Lang and former radio host Jian Ghomeshi.

Conservative Senator Don Plett raised questions about Lang accepting money for speaking engagements.

The CBC recently changed its policy and has banned paid speaking engagements for on-air journalists after Lang made news headlines.

"My word, CBC is a public corporation. Your journalists are working for the public," Plett said.

Conway confirmed there is an ongoing investigation to examine if journalism was affected.

"I don't really want to get into the specifics of any one individual, but I will tell you it is under review currently," Conway said. "That will be completed in the course of time and I think effectively, and it will be dealt with appropriately."

In a statement, CBC recently indicated any on-air journalist who wishes to accept an invitation to speak must ensure the activity does not represent any real or perceived conflict of interest. Journalists must also seek permission from his or her supervisor.

Conservative Senator Betty Unger also raised questions to Lacroix and Conway about the ongoing internal investigation into the Jian Ghomeshi case. The radio personality was fired by the CBC and now faces criminal charges after a number of woman came forward alleging physical and sexual assault by the former Q host.

"Public perception is you picked the person to investigate ... this matter for the CBC so it is not an arm's length investigation, perhaps the matter should have been handled by a retired judge," Unger said.

Lawyer Janice Rubin has been hired by the CBC to carry out an independent review of how the allegations against Ghomeshi were handled.

CBC has said it will not influence or impede Rubin's investigation.

"We are awaiting the results of Janis Rubin's report, she's an expert in her field," Conway told the committee. "I think if she has suggestions, if there are policy questions we can improve on, we would embrace those.... It is a terrible situation obviously."

The CBC executives were appearing before the Senate's transportation and communications committee to "examine the challenges faced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in relation to the changing environment of broadcasting and communications."

Senators also pressed Lacroix, Conway and Lalande about CBC-TV's ratings and the sub-licensing of Hockey Night in Canada's logo to Rogers Communications.