Friday, March 20, 2009

James Moore claiming he didn't know CBC wanted an advance

Interesting development: "Heritage minister at odds with CBC over funding." Moore is citing confusion about the kind of funding CBC is seeking. He's saying he was never asked for an advance, that he rejected a "straight" loan. Feigning confusion about what's been requested by the CBC makes the Minister and his government look less than competent.
Heritage Minister James Moore says he has never been approached by the CBC for an emergency advance on future federal funding - a statement disputed by the public broadcaster.

It's another confusing twist in the verbal ping-pong match between Moore and CBC President Hubert Lacroix over emergency aid.

CBC brass have been saying publicly that they would like to get an advance loan on their annual federal appropriation in order to get through a time of great financial difficulty.

But whether that's what they directly requested of the minister is in dispute.

"A loan against future allocations was never discussed. I've seen it in some news stories, I don't know where that came from," Moore said in an interview.

He said he was asked for a "straight loan," but rejected that idea because he was concerned it would put the network into an even bigger financial hole when it came time to repay if the economy was still in dire straits.

"Then you'd really start to see the cannibalization of Canadian broadcasting on the CBC and that could put them in an even more difficult situation."

However, a source close to the discussions said that not only was an advance the corporation's principal request to the minister, it was also the subject of direct correspondence with the Department of Heritage and the Privy Council Office, the central policymaking agency.
Parsing of the type of "loan" requested doesn't seem to cut it as a useful public pronouncement when the prospect of job cuts, stations closing, etc. are on the line. It's rather offensive. The CBC forcefully responded to the Minister's confusion:
Marco Dube, a spokesman for the CBC, reacted to Moore's remarks with a terse email.

"The minister is fully aware of what CBC/Radio-Canada's request to Government has been," Dube said.

Dube also underlined a major speech delivered by CBC President Hubert Lacroix last month to the Empire Club of Toronto, in which he raised the issue of an advance on federal appropriations as a way of helping the corporation.
More silly games, as put by Charlie Angus? Or could this be an effort on the part of the Minister to publicly backtrack, an indication that an advance may indeed be on the table for CBC? A Minister trying to create an opening? Who knows. But it's still a maddening spectacle that's continuing to reinforce questions about the Harper government's ultimate intentions.