CBC President Huber Lacroix was caught by auditors over-claiming his expenses more than $30,000 over a 6 year period. Caught red-handed he was embarrassed and paid the money back. Only discovery by auditors convinced him to pay back the money.
CBC reporters now have to turn their sights internally as auditors reveal the same sort of culture of entitlement that snared Senators Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy recently.
“We’ve been reporting a lot on ineligible expense claims by public officials, now we have a story in our own backyard,” CBC reporter Rosemary Barton reported on Friday.
This story is the tip of the iceberg of the corruption at the heart of Canada’s publicly funded broadcaster. Much like the BBC on which it is modeled, the CBC is hiding its secrets from public scrutiny through deception and lawyers. The CBC spends more than $3 million every year for external lawyers to hide issues like this, along with an extensive internal legal department.
The National Post reported ”Mr. Lacroix already receives a $1,500 per month living allowance that he negotiated to cover his frequent travel to Ottawa. It was in the midst of these frequent trips that Mr. Lacroix improperly expensed an additional $29,678 for meals, hotels and per diems.”
Why is Senator Mike Duffy a fraudster and CBC President Hubert Lacroix just an embarrassed guy?
The expense rules are too complex
Auditors knew the expenses were invalid but CBC executives claimed they didn’t understand the complex rules. Sound familiar? It was the same excuse given by Wallin and Duffy. “Duffy blamed the Senate rules and the “unclear” form that he filled out when claiming the expenses,” reported MacLeans magazine. That was last February when Duffy’s expenses were thought to be only $42,000. The real amount was much higher.
How high has the culture of entitlement gone at the CBC, Canada’s taxpayer-funded broadcaster? Rank and file employees have complained for more than a decade that executive management at the CBC were wasting taxpayer’s dollars while the employees took the brunt of the cutbacks.
LaCroix was embarrassed when questioned by CBC reporter Rosemarie Barton “Is it embarrassing to me, am I upset, am I angry? I’ve been preaching transparency since Day One and here I am in a conversation with you on Power and Politics about my expenses in Ottawa.” Lacroix is a lawyer, not just a journalist. He has enough education and experience to know right from wrong.
Of course, Mr. Lacroix is embarrassed. He is abusing the public trust despite being paid more than $400,000 annually.
Lacroix is in Ottawa pleading for another $100 million of public money. He is backed in his campaign by an advocacy group called Friends of Canadian Broadcasting who predict the end of freedom of the press in Canada if the CBC is not expanded.
Rot at the CBC goes deeper than $30,000
I have personal knowledge of the rot at the CBC. The corporation has lived on the public purse for so long without supervision or control, they feel entitled to flaunt the laws.
CBC Charlottetown, with support from head office, conspired with Quebec-based Transcontinental to refuse me permission to report from the PEI Legislature. I needed my Press Pass to report from the Legislature, which is a 150-year-old inaccessible building for a reporter in a wheelchair.
The PEI Human Rights Commission believed there was enough evidence of discrimination in my case, they referred the complaint to a Human Rights Panel. CBC President Lacroix, the one with the “mistake” on his expenses, told the House of Commons the CBC quickly investigate all human rights claims and try to settle them.
In my case, the CBC hired a lawyer at a cost to the taxpayers of more than $60,000 to keep the matter out of the Human Rights Tribunal. The CBC has refused to mediate the issue, since they assume they can out-litigate a journalist in a wheelchair. In almost every Province in Canada, Human Rights complaints must go to mediation but not on PEI.
How does that apply to a story about ethical behavior at the CBC? Lacroix knows about my human rights complaint and hired the lawyer. His office also refused to mediate the issue.
We are just beginning to learn what rot there is inside the CBC.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network