TORONTO - Radio-Canada staff refused an award presented to them Wednesday by CBC President Hubert Lacroix in protest of ongoing job losses at the public broadcaster.
The Sherbrooke, Que. newsroom had been selected to receive the President's Award in the "Audience First" category — an internal newsroom honour — for their coverage of the Lac-Megantic disaster.
The newsroom of about 60 people had tied for the award with the Calgary office, who were honoured for their coverage of the massive flooding in June 2013.
But in Sherbrooke, the team refused the award because they were "uncomfortable" with job cuts at CBC/Radio-Canada, said Isabelle Montpetit, president of Syndicat des Communications de Radio Canada.
Montpetit stressed that the decision came from the employees, not from her union, which represents some Radio-Canada employees.
In a video posted to YouTube, Lacroix can be seen presenting the award to the Sherbrooke office before journalist Pierre Tousignant reads a statement in French refusing the honour.
CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson said the team was selected for the award by a jury of their fellow employees at the public broadcaster.
"The individuals decided to refuse their award and that's their choice but it's also unfortunate. The team that won ultimately refused an award that came from their peers," he said.
"They did an outstanding job covering that tragedy and Canadians benefited from their coverage. Hubert Lacroix will not stop celebrating the work of employees of CBC and Radio-Canada and will continue to meet with employees and present awards as he tours the regions."
In June, CBC announced it would slash 1,000 to 1,500 jobs over the next five years. This is in addition to the 657 jobs the CBC announced it would cut in April to meet a budget shortfall caused by falling advertising revenues and federal budget cuts.
The Canadian Media Guild said in a press release Wednesday that they expect almost 400 job losses to be implemented this month, bringing the total to more than 1,000 this year.
The union, which represents most CBC workers, urged employees to wear an item of black clothing on Thursday in protest of the cuts.
Thompson said he was unable to comment Wednesday on the implementation of any previously announced job cuts.
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