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CBC could face 5 per cent funding cut, Heritage Minister says

Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages James Moore.


The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation could face a federal funding cut of at least 5 per cent to help Ottawa slay the deficit, Heritage Minister James Moore says.

"The CBC has to certainly do its part," he told the CBC Radio program Q on Tuesday.

He sought to assure Canadians that the public broadcaster would be able to adjust readily.

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"The idea that the CBC can't find 5 per cent of efficiencies within the CBC to give back to the broader economic framework, I think, is silly."

The Harper government is trying to squeeze at least $4-billion in annual savings to help eliminate the deficit by 2015, and 67 departments and agencies have been asked to draw up scenarios for cuts of 5 per cent and 10 per cent in operating expenses.

Decisions have yet to be made on which departments and agencies will face funding cuts, but Mr. Moore said he thinks the broadcaster can handle the belt-tightening. He said he met with the CBC's board last week, and they assured him they're ready to co-operate.

"They're prepared to do their part and to find the savings - and make sure that CBC has the necessary funding to fulfill its mandate," the minister said.

Mr. Moore said broad-based trims in government spending are necessary to ensure the Conservatives can keep their promise to spare certain items from the axe, including health-care funding and support for seniors.

The Heritage Minister said that, in his opinion, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has proven it can operate more leanly when necessary.

"The truth is the CBC is finding efficiencies. The CBC used to have nine unions. Now there are six. They've sold assets that, frankly, they weren't using."

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Mr. Moore also echoed recent comments from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty that arts groups shouldn't assume they'll repeatedly receive federal government funding.

"If anybody has an assumption that they have a right to taxpayers' money, they are wrong."

Both ministers were addressing controversy over SummerWorks, a Toronto theatre festival that drew criticism from the Conservatives in 2010 for staging Homegrown, a play about a convicted Toronto 18 terrorist. The festival had received federal grants for years, but weeks ago learned its 2011 request for assistance was turned down.

Mr. Moore dismissed the notion that SummerWorks was being punished - saying the funds were transferred to a more needy recipient - and noted the Toronto festival raised funds to help offset the federal aid.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

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