Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: CBC Needs to Rebuild Trust after Scandals

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: CBC Needs to Rebuild Trust after Scandals

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: CBC needs to rebuild trust after scandals

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published June 10:

There's a troubling pattern of misbehaviour at the top of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., and until it's wiped out public trust in the country's key cultural institution will continue to drain away.

The abrupt and shocking departure of host Evan Solomon is just the latest blow to the corporation's reputation. Solomon himself is clearly responsible for the behaviour that led to his firing late Tuesday -- trading on his position to run a side business as an art broker. But after the Jian Ghomeshi fiasco and the trail of controversy over paid appearances by leading CBC personalities, it's the entire leadership of the corporation that has to be in question.

All these controversies are different, of course, and the one that brought Solomon down is nowhere near as egregious as the assault charges faced by Ghomeshi. But all of them raise doubts about the willingness -- or ability -- of CBC managers to make sure that their most visible people act in an ethical manner and don't undermine public confidence.

In the case of Solomon, it's apparent from detailed reporting by the Star's investigative ace Kevin Donovan that the former host of Power and Politics concealed his art dealings from his bosses for many months. And no wonder. What he was up to -- using his position as a prominent CBC host to introduce rich newsmakers to a Toronto dealer and take a cut of the proceeds -- was in clear violation of CBC policies and common-sense rules for good journalistic practice. Once that was known, he had to go.

But according to a CBC spokesman, Solomon disclosed information about his art business to the corporation in April -- two months ago. He reportedly said he was in a partnership with his wife and art dealer Bruce Bailey, and wasn't active in the business.

That was at the very best a lie by omission -- leaving out all the important details about his activities brokering lucrative art deals with the likes of Jim Balsillie and Mark Carney. Did CBC management then just take his word for it? What questions did they ask, and what follow-up procedures (if any) did they put in place to make sure they were getting the full story?

In the wake of the Ghomeshi scandal and the flap over potential conflict of interest involving business anchor Amanda Lang, surely they knew the corporation could not afford another stink around one of its most visible personalities -- indeed, someone widely touted as a successor to anchor Peter Mansbridge himself. …

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