A group of prominent Canadians, including artists, journalists, civil rights activists, politicians and business executives, is calling on Bell Canada to “make things right” after the dismissal of CTV News anchor Lisa LaFlamme.
In an open letter published as a two-page advertisement on Saturday in The Globe and Mail, they say Bell Media’s decision to oust the award-winning journalist “in the very prime of her career” has had a profound impact on everyone.
“In making their ‘business decision,’ Bell confirmed one sad truth: even after all the progress women have made, they continue to face sexism and ageism at work everyday in a way which is unacceptable. Period.”
The letter was signed by more than 70 prominent Canadians, including singer Anne Murray, bestselling author Louise Penny, entrepreneur and philanthropist Jim Balsillie and former prime minister Kim Campbell.
Ms. LaFlamme broke the news of her dismissal in a video she posted on social media about two weeks ago, saying her contract had been terminated for a “business decision.” Her announcement triggered a wave of public outcry, especially after media reports suggested her decision to let her hair go grey during the pandemic had contributed to the dismissal.
Ms. LaFlamme has not spoken publicly about her dismissal since posting the video.
The news of Ms. LaFlamme’s departure angered many of her colleagues at CTV News and the public at large.
Viewers started online petitions calling for Ms. LaFlamme’s return to CTV National News, brands such as Dove and Wendy’s released ad campaigns in support of women going grey, and journalists rallied behind her, calling for cultural reforms in Canadian newsrooms.
In a letter to Bell Canada’s top executives earlier this week, CTV News journalists expressed their lack of confidence in leadership, singling out Michael Melling, the vice-president of news at Bell Media, who sources say had butted heads with Ms. LaFlamme over newsroom priorities, story coverage and resources.
The Globe has previously reported that Mr. Melling had allegedly raised questions about Ms. LaFlamme’s decision to let her hair go grey, something Mr. Melling later told The Globe was “categorically untrue.”
Bell Media announced Friday night that Mr. Melling was taking a leave of absence, effective immediately.
But Mr. Melling’s departure was unlikely to put an end to the calls for Bell to reinstate Ms. LaFlamme.
“We understand well that mistakes get made by all of us; even very big corporations. But we also believe that it is not the mistake that matters, but rather how we respond to that mistake,” reads the letter published on Saturday.
“Which leads us to where we are today. Bell, what is your plan, what will you do, to restore this trust and make things right? What will you do not just for Lisa but for all of us?”
Here is the open letter:
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