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The claim: CBC/Radio-Canada is in trouble not because of cuts, but because their ratings are bad.

Stephen Harper paid Radio X, Québec City’s notorious trash radio station, a visit. In an interview, he said: “The reason for why Radio-Canada is having difficulty is not because of cuts from our government. There are no cuts. The reason is the loss of viewers and that’s a problem that Radio-Canada needs to address.”

He also explained his reasoning for refusing to go on Tout le monde en parle, one of Radio-Canada’s most popular show, saying that he was “énchante d’être ici” (delighted to be here, on Radio X.)

CBC/Radio-Canada’s funding has been hacked at for nearly two decades. Cuts made by Paul Martin resulted in 2,400 layoffs.

The Conservatives have made cuts too. In the 2012 budget, CBC/Radio-Canada’s budget was cut by $115 million, or 10 per cent of the total operating budget. There’s no question: the public broadcaster has been forced to maintain its programming and service levels despite having had deep cuts made to its budget.

Hubert Lacroix, president of the corporation, rejected the notion that the problem is with ratings at the annual meeting of CBC/Radio-Canada in Winnipeg, yesterday.

Eight shows (four on CBC and four on Radio-Canada) regularly have audiences of more than 1 million viewers. Twenty-five of 26 radio morning shows ranked in the top three most popular shows of their local markets, and in fall 2013, Radio One and Radio Two reached a record high audience. ICI Radio-Canada Première and ICI Musique had record market shares the same year.

The last Olympics and Paralympics coverage was also record-breaking, reaching 33 million Canadians.

Radio X is notorious in the province of Quebec, and Harper’s stop there is significant. Radio X broadcasts the worst of right-wing bigotry and intolerance. Here’s a compilation of clips where they attack: Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence, gay people, immigrants, women, cyclists and former student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.

The audience of Radio X is exactly who Harper is speaking to when he tries to make this election about the niqab.

Just a few days before Harper’s interview, the Coalition Against Trash Radio issued a press release, announcing that 83 unions, social movement organizations and student groups had signed onto a declaration calling for respect to be restored to Quebec City’s airwaves and for an end to Radio X’s hate.

One week before Harper’s interview on the same show, guest Claude Roy went on an Islamophobic tirade.


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Nora Loreto

Nora Loreto is a writer, musician and activist based in Québec City. She is the author of From Demonized to Organized, Building the New Union Movement and is the editor of the Canadian Association...