Bell Media released a statement earlier today, saying it has been dealing with a “difficult” change this week: its split with Lisa LaFlamme, who since 2011 had anchored one of Canada’s most popular newscasts, CTV National News.
“CTV regrets that the way in which the news of her departure has been communicated may have left viewers with the wrong impression about how CTV regards Lisa and her remarkable career,” the statement said.
Bell, CTV’s parent company, was reacting to the furor that erupted online on Monday, when LaFlamme announced in a video she posted to Twitter that the company had decided to end her contract prematurely.
The ousted lead anchor said CTV had first informed her of her impending removal on June 29, adding that she felt “blindsided” by what was described by executives as a “business decision.” The company also announced on Monday that Vancouver-born journalist Omar Sachedina will become the new chief correspondent and senior editor of CTV News on Sept. 5.
Social media users quickly registered their support for LaFlamme.
“You have my utmost respect and admiration,” tweeted singer Anne Murray. “You will rise above.”
Some noted that LaFlamme, 58, wasn’t allowed to remain anchor for as long as some of her male counterparts, and wasn’t allowed to leave her job gracefully.
The Globe reported that Michael Melling, vice president of news at Bell Media, had questioned LaFlamme’s decision to stop colouring her hair. Solidarity with her grey locks was strong.
Raina Douris, the Canadian host of National Public Radio’s World Cafe, said fixation on women’s physical appearances also exists in radio:
Karen Kain, the former ballet dancer who recently retired from her role as artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada, expressed disappointment over Bell’s treatment of LaFlamme. “How is this possible in this day and age to treat her this way?” the 71-year-old asked on Facebook.
Though many have speculated that sexism was behind Bell’s decision, one male sportscaster argued that the issue was age, not gender.
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