Bill would force CBC to reveal more info about spending



OTTAWA — The CBC remains opaque even as a bill aiming to make it more transparent weaves its way through Parliament.

The publicly funded broadcaster has a poor track record of disclosing information and a nasty habit of hiding behind one clause of the Access to Information Act that allows it to withhold info it feels would compromise its journalistic integrity, creativity or programming activities.

Tory MP Brent Rathgeber believes the broadcaster abuses that clause and his private member's bill C-461 aims to change that.

"This legislation is not about the CBC so much as it is about transparency and accountability," he said while debating the bill Tuesday. "Section 68.1 was flawed. The Federal Court of Appeal said so. This legislation attempts to remedy these defects."

A recent access to information request from QMI Agency appears to confirm that.

Asked for information on the expenses of an executive meeting in Montreal - accommodation, food, entertainment - the broadcaster provided accommodation expenses but withheld food and other costs, citing that section.

Rathgeber says this isn't transparent, but the NDP heritage critic says the bill is an attack on the CBC.

"This same member said in 2011 that he did not see why Canada needed a public broadcaster," Pierre Nantel told the House.

Nantel sees the bill as an ideological attack and also called it a "solution in search of a problem".
Rathgeber was prepared for that.

"Is CBC to be both judge and party in access to information requests?" he asked. "Certainly not."

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