OTTAWA -- Winnipeg South Centre MP Joyce Bateman acknowledged this week she was not entirely clear when she told a constituent the federal government was not making any cuts to the CBC.
Bateman's comments were recorded on the voice mail of Winnipegger Jayanne English in April, after English called Bateman to complain about cuts being made to the CBC that were affecting the broadcaster's programming. She told English if the CBC was struggling it wasn't because of the federal government.
"They have stable funding," Bateman said last April. "I guess their crisis is their viewership is going down significantly and as a consequence their advertising revenue is going down. So that may be what you are referring to, but from a government perspective we are giving them as much taxpayer money as they ever have received."
Verbatim voice mail
Transcript of voice mail, made by MP Joyce Bateman, in April 2014:
"This call is for Jayanne English. It's Joyce Bateman. I'm your member of Parliament. You called about a CBC crisis. I just want you to know I'm your member of Parliament and trust me, I know that we are continuing to fund the CBC with $1.154 billion taxpayers' money every year. We are not making cuts to the CBC. They, like every single department and organization, agency or Crown corp. had a draft exercise deficit reduction plan of between five to 10 per cent was found, but by the agency itself. That is now over. That was two years ago actually. They have stable funding. I guess their crisis is their viewership is going down significantly and as a consequence their advertising revenue is going down. So that may be what you are referring to, but from a government perspective we are giving them as much taxpayer money as they ever have received."
Bateman made note of a "draft exercise deficit reduction plan" that every government department and agency had to undergo to find savings of between five and 10 per cent," but she said that was over.
"We are not making cuts to the CBC," Bateman told English.
But English, an avid CBC radio listener and one-time contributor to the science show Quirks and Quarks, knew that was not true.
"I absolutely felt like she was lying to me," English said.
She said Bateman made it seem like the draft exercise was never implemented and it was.
In 2011, the federal government announced $115 million would be slashed from the CBC budget over three years, with the final $45-million cut happening in the current year.
Bateman's assistant told the Free Press Bateman was trying to explain there were no newly announced cuts coming to the CBC, and acknowledges the broadcaster is being asked to cut back the same as all other departments.
"MP Bateman didn't articulate the point well and for that she apologizes," her assistant, Caitlin MacGregor, said. "She was trying to explain that in April, when CBC announced job cuts, there were not new CBC funding cuts announced from the Government of Canada over and above the previously announced Deficit Reduction Action Plan."
English said her fear is the government will not be truthful about lots of other things, as well.
"If they are lying to me about this, what else are they lying to me about?" she asked. "I just don't trust them."