Jian and the Giant Breach

When the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced a few weeks ago that it was severing ties with their star broadcaster and host of immensely popular radio show, “Q,” I initially dismissed it as an over-reaction by a bureaucratic monster along the lines of when they grossly over-reacted by threatening to fire supremely talented on-air talent, Sook Yin Lee of “Definitely Not the Opera” fame, for her nude appearances in movie roles.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jian_Ghomeshi

http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/jian-ghomeshi-how-he-got-away-with-it/

http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/11/04/jian-ghomeshi-and-cbc-call-in-lawyers-as-questions-swirl-about-who-knew-what-and-when/

It was clear within a day or so that something was different here. First, Ghomeshi took the unusual step by responding immediately and publicly, identifying himself the transgressions he was being accused of and dismissing them as simply BDSM games that were consensual and safe. What was even more surprising was how CBC refused to hide behind the usual “We can’t comment because the the issue is under litigation” boilerplate. Within days, a large variety of CBC programs were reporting and investigating their own story. Then the Toronto Star reported it had been investigating sexual assault allegations against Ghomeshi by a larger variety of women. As I write this, nine courageous women have publicly come out and made allegations, three filing complaints with the RCMP. A senior executive producer of “Q” is on leave and details are being published about how CBC management abetted the alleged Ghomeshi sexual harassment against the the program’s female staff.

However the story ends up playing out, it is clear that CBC committed a giant breach by turning a blind eye to the accusations against their “talent” by his own program staff . They were that afraid of killing the Golden Goose, a critically acclaimed program picked up worldwide, quite a feather in the cap of an organization dying by a thousand paper cuts. All the investigations and reports by their own journalistic programs can’t hide that.

By ignoring, obfuscating, excusing and thus enabling Ghomeshi’s alleged behaviour, the CBC itself has breached the public trust a government-run cultural powerhouse should be expected to have. Nor are the CBC alone. Canada’s public institutions are rife with incidents of similar toxic cultures in the military, the RCMP and Parliament.

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Muskrat Love

This month, the Canadian RCMP reversed a policy of issuing muskrat fur flap hats. Instead, it wanted to give officers the option of wearing wool toques. While fur is superior in providing warmth in the Arctic conditions much of Canada finds itself in in winter, not every day is reminiscent of the Ice Age, making the woolen hat option sufficient for many officers in many situations.

Canada’s Environment Minister ordered the Mounties to reverse the policy. Leona Agulkkaq, who has no ministerial responsibility for the national police, wants it to remain mandatory for the fur of three dead rat-like creatures be on the head of every Mountie in Canada. She said the change threatened the livelihood of Canadians who depended on the fur trade and blamed the change on “radical animal rights activists.” By that reasoning, we could soon be ordered to smoke cigarettes daily, since not smoking threatens the livelihood of tobacco farmers.

Yes, in this government’s eyes, any protest or different opinion is “radical” and must be stomped out. After all, letting ordinary Canadians disagree with the government could threaten even more important jobs. Their own.