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In a Direct Line - Photo by Ulli Diemer

Why does the CBC invariably turn
to American experts to explain any issue?

By Ulli Diemer


Letter to CBC Morningside re: debate on Homulka reporting ban:

Why does the CBC seem incapable of presenting any issue of importance without putting an American "expert" on the air to tell us dumb Canadians what to think?

Today, Morningside featured a debate on the reporting restrictions on the Homulka trial. Speaking in favour of Truth and Freedom, was, inevitably, an American "expert".

Predictably, the American "expert" was not merely condescending in the way he lectured us Canadians about Freedom of the Press and The American Way - he was also woefully ignorant. He knew nothing about the Canadian judicial process or about the actual content of the judge's order.

What he did know, as he said in his opening statements, was that this was precisely the kind of thing which the U.S. Constitution was supposed to prevent. Ontario's actions could be compared to those of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeni, he said.

By contrast, Mr. Greenspan, the Canadian lawyer speaking in support of the judge's order, was well-informed and clearly familiar with the specifics of the situation.

Personally, I did not agree with Mr. Greenspan. I think the reporting ban on the Homulka trial is unnecessary in practical terms and wrong in principle. I would have liked to have my point of view represented by someone capable of doing so effectively.

I think it is most unfortunate that it didn't occur to you to have the case against the ban presented by a Canadian civil libertarian who actually knew something about the specifics of the case. Have you never heard of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, for example?

Based on what I hear on the CBC, I can only assume that there is an internal policy manual which mandates that all discussions on issues of more than strictly local importance must include at least one American expert.

I know it would be too much to ask that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation actually make an effort to reflect Canadian points of view. But perhaps you could consider occasionally putting an expert from some country other than the U.S. on the air? After all, in almost every country of the world, there are knowledgeable people who speak excellent English and who would be happy to appear on the CBC.

For example, Europe has several institutes of Canadian studies. The staff of these institutes are actually well-informed about Canadian issues, in contrast to many of your American experts.

If the CBC sees its role as finding foreign experts to tell Canadians what we should think, then at least you should spread the work around a little.

I won't take any more of your time. I know you've got to get backing to scanning The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN, to find out what the important issues are that you should be covering in tomorrow's broadcasts.

Ulli Diemer
8 December, 1993



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