12/15/2015 11:13 EST | Updated 12/15/2016 05:12 EST

CBC Is Threatening Its Future By Mixing Journalism And Opinion


​After my post last week complaining -- and yes, worrying -- about CBC journalist Keith Boag's personal opinions on Donald Trump, I told myself to lie low. It's the holiday season.

That turns out to be very hard to do, because once one notices the extent to which personal opinion has become the day-to-day fodder of an ever widening circle of CBC journalists, you see it, hear it and click on it everywhere.

Let me be crystal clear: this is threatening the future of the CBC.

I personally agree with Terry Milewski's "analysis" of the Senate, posted yesterday, Dec 14th, on

But with a straight face, tell me that what Terry wrote represents impartial journalism.

"This is an undemocratic farce ... for a vast, modern democracy to be saddled with an unelected upper house is an embarrassment ... the Senate's ludicrously lop-sided makeup makes it doubly farcical ... It's as though we dug up a relic of an ancient civilization ... could the rites of the pharaohs be any more bizarre? ... these absurd imbalances, fossilized by history ..."

Can I say what Terry said? Sure I can, because it's my personal opinion. And I don't work at the CBC.

Should Terry be saying it? No, absolutely not.

These comments, these opinions, unequivocally violate -- spoiler alert: here's the broken record again -- CBC's long-standing, public and incredibly clearly-written policy statement that its journalists and the organization itself must not take ANY positions on issues in the public life of the country. They must be -- impartial.

CBC's senior news managers need to get serious about this.

This is nothing new. The policy on impartiality as currently writ was last redrafted and made public in 1994 and for decades earlier, similar versions guided journalists and producers at the CBC. The policy was considered to be, as far as humanly possible, inviolable.

What is new is that it is so often now ignored. And given I worked inside CBC for 27 years, that means to me that the policy is also being forgotten.

CBC's senior news managers need to get serious about this. It's their job to ensure that the CBC operates day to day according to the promises the corporation makes to itself and to Parliament and the Canadian people.

Canadian citizens and taxpayers expect CBC to live up to this policy because democratic discussion demands it, in an increasingly partisan media environment and in public life more generally.

Flouting the Corporation's own rules really is a serious problem for journalism at the CBC but, clearly, it now is journalism at the CBC.

And that is very dangerous for the organization's future, especially with many people hoping that a new government in Ottawa may rethink the role of the CBC in Canada's public life.

Just because Justin Trudeau seems, thankfully, more interested and committed to the ideals and importance of a public broadcaster than his predecessor doesn't mean the CBC should automatically get -- or deserve -- a free ride from scrutiny. And this situation is not helping.

As more and more of CBC's journalism is directly allowed to be -- let alone just perceived to be -- personal opinion, it will nurture an already growing perception among Canadians that "the CBC is now just another media platform like all the other private media platforms in the marketplace, so why exactly, should the public pay taxes to fund it in the future?"

I don't think the answer to that question should be:

"Oh well, get a grip Frank! ..... it's 2015!"


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