Monsieur le Commissaire aux Langues Officielles:
I wish to file the following complaint on missing CBC news coverage regarding “Burnaby francophones fight City Hall” as covered by the Burnaby Newsleader (Blackpress). NGO Impératif-Français also covered under “Le Français sur la Côte du Pacifique avec ou sans les Jeux olympiques!”. The NGO was however reluctant to defend French in English, perhaps rightly so! CanWest BurnabyNow did not cover although was advised similarly as the Newsleader [Editor note: the BurnabyNow community newspaper occurred later on]. In the absence of interest from CBC on the instigator of the letter to Mayor Corrigan (i.e. myself), I did file a newstip on Sunday evening the 10th of January using the web email interface firstname.lastname@example.org and was totally ignored. See email attached. The Newsleader print issue was delivered at my door the day before and was available on the web on Saturday and pushed onto my wide social network via Facebook. CanWest’s Vancouver Sun did not show interest either on Monday morning and ignored the story similarly to CBC.
I believe that my complaint is compliant with these valid reasons stated on your web guide: “You believe that decisions made by the federal government will have a negative impact on the vitality of an official language community.You believe that the equal status of both official languages is not being respected by the federal government.” I believe that by ignoring news related to difficulties with official languages, CBC has a negative impact on the vitality of the official language francophone community and is ignoring its obligation to promote linguistic duality within Canadian society. Both francophones and francophiles are very likely to get their news via CBC and participate to the public discourse through that medium. The equal status of French does not appear to be respected by the CBC, generally more attentive to the anglophone communities in Québec that happens to rely on an alternative mainstream medias in English with a strong local presence (i.e. CanWest gazette & Global), something we do not have in western Canada.
I have in the past filed two complaints to Radio-Canada for similar shortcomings in their coverage related to official languages. Their Ombudsman rejected both complaints invoking the freedom of the press and the code of ethics by which its staff is expected to comply. The Ombudsman did also issue a comment in the response to the first complaint stating that “En terminant, je crois que les employés et la Direction de Radio-Canada doivent faire preuve de vigilance face aux apparences de conflit d’intérêt”. I then commented that freedom of the “press of the press” had in fact been hindered by serving more immediate public broadcaster interests concerned with their funding in the absence of public scrutiny on minority language in western Canada. Let’s also note the response of the board of CBC/Radio-Canada to Auditor General Sheila Fraser raising to a parliamentary committee the issue of conflict of interest: “Dans ses pratiques de gouvernance, le Conseil est parfaitement conscient de l’importance de disposer de solides politiques en matière de conflit d’intérêts et de divulgation, que ca soit pour lui-même, la Direction ou pour les employés. Le Conseil veillera donc à ce que cette recommendation soit traitée de manière appropriée.”
I have passed several news tips in the past to CBC British-Colombia including when Radio-Canada celebrated its 40th radio station anniversary and ended up being similarly totally ignored. I have passed similar new scoops related to official languages to Radio-Canada in the past and they were all ignored. I can supply a long list if requested for the needs of your inquiry but *do not* wish to delay its processing by simply focusing on one particular issue. However, let us note that others in the community here have discussed publicly Radio-Canada’s shortcomings in the past.
At this point, I regrettably file in English against the CBC arm of the public broadcaster because French is simply not taken seriously anymore in western Canada in the absence of alternate mainstream medias paying attention to issues impacting the community. In conclusion, it should be noted that Radio-Canada did not cover the Burnaby francophones fight either, on a matter of what one would think is of public interest to francophones *and* francophiles tuning into Radio-Canada in BC, if not elsewhere in Canada such as Toronto where our relative francophone demography is dramatically declining. I do not however wish to file a complaint at this point against Radio-Canada since there is even less public opinion scrutiny or political goodwill available, according to my past experience.
I am hopeful that this complaint as currently stated can help mobilize public opinion, gather better political goodwill and timely catalyze necessary actions. I am also copying the francophone and anglophone medias in the same spirit.