Right in the centre - Canada’s billion dollar boondoggle


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Canadians pour, or should I say flush, $1 billion of tax money per year into the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). One would think that for that amount of money, plus all the TV ad revenue, Canadians would get good value. But we don’t.

Just for a moment, consider what $1 billion could buy for Canadians, if we could somehow wean ourselves off some of the CBC nonsense that passes for journalism. $1 billion is 1000 million by the way. That much money would build 10 rural regional hospitals every year, at $100 million each. It would build 1,000 miles of highway.

But for our $1 billion, this week, we were treated to a few stories that we could likely have lived without. One story said that switching home heating from natural gas to electricity would be better for the environment. Well not if the electricity is generated from coal. Not if you count how much infrastructure you need to build more dams. Not if you count all the billions Manitoba has sunk into dams when we can’t reach markets for the hydro. Not if you consider that many sections of our cities don’t have the hydro capacity in the existing lines and might well have to be upgraded. Not if the existing gas infrastructure investment is wasted. In short, the article was very poorly thought out, but I guess that is what you get for $1 billion.

Another billion dollar article was about how people can enjoy sex more. Right, as if we need more articles on that topic. I think most people have that topic developed to an adequate level in their lives.

Yet another article misquoted former Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a way that suggested he was calling for an armed uprising to overthrow the government of Iran. CBC was quoting other media sources and was forced to back down. Funny how that happens when you don’t do your own research. Guess you don’t have to do much research when the government sends $1 billion your way every year.

CBC has some good programs, but so does CTV and Global. The difference is the latter two put out their TV offerings based on ad revenue and cable TV fee income. CBC does too, but has the added obvious advantage of $1 billion in taxpayer subsidies. In addition, CBC uses that subsidy to unfairly compete with other outlets for internet and TV ads.

The CBC is one of the biggest boondoggles in Canada. I feel sorry for the honest working journalists in their bureaucracy, as they get painted with same brush.  CBC, especially CBC TV, should be sold. The Conservatives should have sold it when they had the chance, but didn’t have the courage to apply their principles to the greatest waste of taxpayer money in modern day Canada. And this has been going on for decades. Just think about it, probably $30 billion wasted since 1990, and it goes back further than that. That’s what Liberals, NDP and weak-kneed Conservatives do for us. Or more correctly, to us!

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer chair of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.