The president of CBC / Radio-Canada attacked the Sun News Network and its corporate parent Quebecor Inc. on Tuesday during an appearance before the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, for what he said were deliberately misleading allegations that the public broadcaster is "a hotbed of sexual harassment."
Hubert Lacroix charged that the Sun News host Brian Lilley engaged in "speculation and innuendo" when he reportedly linked the CBC to both sexual harassment at the RCMP and the child sex scandal currently engulfing the British Broadcasting Corporation. "He insists that he`s just doing his job, holding CBC to account," said Mr. Lacroix. "If that was true, you would think he might have asked us a single question about this before he launched his attack."
Mr. Lacroix also said recent reporting by Sun News host Ezra Levant that alleged David Suzuki, the host of CBC`s The Nature of Things, was "procuring girls to be his escorts" during a trip last fall to Montreal`s John Abbott College, was untrue. Mr. Levant "didn`t check with the college, with David Suzuki, or with anyone else who would actually tell him his allegations were false," said Mr. Lacroix.
He quoted a statement by the college, issued after Mr. Levant`s first report on the matter, which said, in part: "It is a shame...(students are) witnesses to the falsification of information considered to be acceptable practice by news professionals."
After Mr. Lacroix`s presentation on Tuesday, Sun News Network staff contacted The Globe and Mail to dispute his characterization of events, noting that a producer had reached out to a representative of Mr. Suzuki`s publisher prior to the channel`s initial report. They added that they also reached out to the college, and members of Mr. Suzuki`s foundation, after the first report aired.
"Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue," Mr. Lacroix said, according to remarks distributed to reporters, in which he acknowledged CBC had received three employee complaints of sexual harassment in the past three years. "It deserves to be treated as a serious issue."
Mr. Lacroix`s criticism comes as Sun News is preparing to argue before the Canadian broadcast regulator that it deserves to be carried on every cable, satellite, and IPTV provider, and receive payment from every TV subscriber, because of its unique contributions to the domestic broadcasting landscape.
"I don`t expect the Sun`s agenda to change," Mr. Lacroix said. "But I believe it is important to call them out when they are deliberately misleading Canadians; when they're taking a serious issue like sexual harassment and turning it into a weapon for their own interests."