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Senate says CBC's moves to hide salaries of big names an 'insult' by Giuseppe Valiante

May 14, 2014

Source: Sun News Network

OTTAWA - CBC president Hubert Lacroix insulted and disrespected taxpayers by not fully disclosing the salaries of high-level CBC employees, said senators on a committee studying the public broadcaster's future.

Lacroix responded to the Senate's committee on transport and communications' request for financial disclosure by submitting 184 pages of base employee salary scales that senators said left out the full take-home income of many of the corporation's big-name personalities.

For instance, Lacroix's submission revealed that the host of CBC's The National, Peter Mansbridge, one of the most famous journalists in Canada, makes roughly $80,000 -- the same as a lower-level reporter.

"It's just not credible," said committee member and Sen. Terry Mercer on Wednesday. "You can't give us numbers like that and expect us to believe it," he said.

Sen. Dennis Dawson told QMI Agency that Lacroix's non-disclosure was "an insult to the committee."

Dawson said British citizens know how much their public broadcasters make, "so why should we have an exception for the CBC in Canada?"

The CBC has often refused to disclose its financial information, despite its annual $1-billion taxpayer subsidy.

Lacroix's spokeswoman, France Belisle, said specific salary information is confidential under the Privacy Act, but that the CBC "is continually looking at ways to improve how and what it reports to Canadians."

The public broadcaster shields itself from scrutiny by using a section of Canadian law that exempts it from disclosing information related to its "journalistic, creative or programming activities."

The CBC hasn't been able to shield itself from market realities, however.

It is currently cutting hundreds of positions after it lost the rights to air the popular Hockey Night in Canada, reportedly leading to $100 million lost annual advertising revenue.

Mercer said the cuts reveal the CBC "doesn't have a plan."

He added that most committee members want the CBC to succeed, "but (the CBC) has come at it as if we are the enemy. We're not."

"When they lost (the hockey rights), what was their reaction? They cut 600 people - you don't do that without a plan," Mercer said. "We're here to help but you aren't winning any friends by not giving us the full picture. Nobody believes those numbers."

A spokesman for Heritage Minister Shelly Glover said the CBC has the responsibility to provide timely and accurate information to Parliament.

"The Senate and its committees have every right to request documents from the CBC," said Mike Storeshaw.

Independent MP Brent Rathgeber told QMI Thursday that the CBC is mocking the government by refusing to release its employee salaries.

However, Rathgeber said the government is also being hypocritical by demanding the CBC be transparent while also voting down his bill, which would have forced public entities such as the CBC to disclose certain employee financial data.

"The government wants salary disclosure at CBC but they didn't support my bill which would have provided it," he said. "And (the government) doesn't want salary disclosures for other political appointments. You can't have it both ways."

© Sun News Network