Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Tears for the CBC

I used to love the Canadian Broadcasting System (CBC). As a youth in Cape Breton, the CBC was one of only three radio stations and one of only two English television stations available to me. It was as much a part of the Cape Breton landscape as the ocean, the mines and the Bras d’or lakes. It spoke to us about us. It was one of us. There were stories of fishermen, miners, local artists, and the great expanses of wilderness that surrounded us. There were stories that touched the heart, mind and soul of all Cape Bretoners.

I wasn’t very politically aware back then. Not many of us were. But to the best of my recollections, I don’t remember the CBC being ideologically biased or promoting any particular political or social belief. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t – just that, in my youth and innocence, maybe I didn’t perceive it.

Today, it’s a different story for me. I now see the CBC as an entity that is highly politicized. Maybe, as an adult living in Toronto, I’m more socially and politically aware. Or, maybe the CBC itself has changed. I’m not sure.

In any event, I still watch and listen to the CBC. Peter Mansbridge and Toronto radio host Andy Barrie are giants in my eyes - men who epitomize professionalism and grace. But sadly, the CBC, as a Canadian voice, no longer speaks to or for me. Today, it is a voice that reflects the values of only a certain segment of Canadian society. The new-age Canadians. The ones who gaze lovingly into the eyes of government and trust it to solve all their problems. Those of us who fear and mistrust government - as, it seems to me, any rational person should – are ignored and often dismissed as right wing neo-con radicals.

If you admire and depend on government, and crawl to it at election time begging for crumbs, the CBC will be your voice. If you demand that government take less of your earnings, and suggest that people should take more responsibility for their own lives, the CBC will abandon you. Worse, it will ridicule you. After all, such notions are hardly Canadian are they? At least not in the Canada that the CBC promotes.

I understand that the CBC receives approximately one billion dollars a year from the government to fund its operations. I do not, in principle, oppose that. What I do oppose, however, is having so much of our money going to fund an organization that is so apparently and blatantly based towards a left-leaning, socialistic ideology. Should not a publicly funded information source, in a democratic society, take great pains to be neutral? After all, it is owned by all Canadians. Therefore, should it not be a voice for all Canadians?

Let me ask those of you who listen or watch the CBC: can you name me one CBC commentator or show host who shows any sign of favouring smaller government, welfare restrictions, capital punishment, the current definition of marriage, punitive penalties for violent offenders, less immigration, or private delivery of some health care services? Alternatively, can you name me one CBC talking-head who shows any concerns about big government, our soft justice system, state funded multiculturalism, abortion, gay-marriage, or our politicized left-wing Supreme Court; or who dares suggest that maybe some welfare recipients should actually get off their bums and look for work?

There are no such people at the CBC. In its halls, there is a huge ideological void.

Everything they put on the air is geared towards suggesting that any and all problems that Canadians face can be addressed with a government funded program or a good dose of counselling. Never is it suggested that, when faced with adversity, Canadians should suck it up, hold their heads high as proud individuals and get on with their lives. In the CBC’s eyes, society or someone else is always to blame for every problem ever experienced by any Canadian.

On Toronto radio, single mothers and other people who have “fallen through the cracks” are periodically trotted out and patted on the head like house pets while the commentator sadly tells us of the lack of government programs to help them. Never are these people asked how they got into the predicament they are in. Never is it suggested that exercising good judgement and personal responsibility could have saved a lot of them from their unfortunate fate. No. Trot out the victim, make society feel guilty for his or her plight and demand additional government funding to save them. Day after day after day it’s the same thing.

Where is the balance? Where is the other side of the story? Where is the CBC that speaks for me? It has disappeared. And in its place is a giant tax funded behemoth more interested in telling me what I should think and feel rather than actually reflecting what I think and feel.

I miss the CBC of my youth. And although I weep at what it has become, I am happy in my tears. For it is better to weep for a departed loved one than to be in denial of their passing.


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