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Culture War

NDP calls out CBC for hiring <br/>Harper's former chief spin doctor Add to ...

Charlie Angus wants the CBC to explain why it is paying Stephen Harper's former director of communications to provide political commentary, arguing his employment is a "flagrant violation" of the public broadcaster's hiring practices.

There's more: Mr. Angus, the NDP's heritage critic, complains that Kory Teneycke's characterization of his leader, Jack Layton, and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff as "a couple of spineless wets," is biased political commentary.

The questions, the criticisms and comments are contained in a pointed letter he sent to CBC Ombudsman Vince Carlin yesterday calling the Tory pundit's role on the network an "issue of serious concern."

Mr. Angus says Mr. Teneycke's hiring is at "total odds with the Journalistic Standards and Practices of CBC." The New Democrat notes there is to be a two-year cooling off period between a partisan's departure from his or her political party or pressure group and their employment by the broadcaster.

Mr. Teneycke left the PMO about nine months ago. He is being paid for making between eight and 10 appearances a month on several high-profile CBC political programs, including The National, Power & Politics and CBC Radio's The House.

"This is a black and white violation of CBC's handbook on standards," Mr. Angus writes.

He also complains that Mr. Teneycke has "demonstrated very little ability to provide political commentary that demonstrates anything but a bias toward the Conservative Party of Canada."

Mr. Teneycke has been caught up in Ottawa's so-called culture wars ever since he and EKOS pollster Frank Graves appeared together on Power & Politics. During a tense debate, the former PMO communications chief accused Mr. Graves of being a Liberal partisan, demanding the pollster declare his bias.

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Mr. Graves came under tremendous fire - with Mr. Teneycke among those leading the charge - from the Conservatives after he was quoted in a Globe and Mail column suggesting the Liberals mount a culture war against the Tories. It appeared he had given this advice directly to the party. The pollster, however, has never done paid work for the Liberals - but he has received several contracts from the Harper government.

Mr. Teneycke's sharp debating skills have, not surprisingly, attracted attention and interest in his work with the Corp. And so the NDP letter:

"The difficulty in transitioning from such a hyper-partisan role to one that requires some level of objectivity is, presumably, the reason why such a clearly-worded policy exists for the public broadcaster," Mr. Angus writes.

Both "the letter and the spirit of the CBC's standards are being trampled," he adds

The CBC has been contacted for comment on this development but has not yet provided a response.

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