Ten questions that simply must be asked in the Ghomeshi scandal

The issue that’s given rise to the most scorn among my readers since the Ghomeshi scandal broke a week ago was my initial posit that Jian Ghomeshi’s being  a man of colour and a Muslim might have played a role in the way the CBC disposed of him.  The response I got to that suggestion was that is it was ‘way out there” and that it was crazy or I must have a screw loose for asking it.  Yet, I think the timing of the breaking story did beg, at least, a question around race and religion, especially given the hugely propagandistic way the government is leading its response to the so-called terrorist shooting on Parliament Hill.

Now a week has passed and a lot more details have emerged. More examples of Ghomeshi’s behaviour have been disclosed and a three women (at the time of writing) are proceeding with charges in Toronto. The Toronto Police Sexual Assault Unit has invited other women to come forward, offering help and counselling should they need it.

Ghomeshi’s PR firm, Navigator, has sent him packing.  Gossip says it was because he lied, an oddly coy proffer given they are in the business of aiding and abetting scoundrels.  Rock-it Promotions dropped him as an act.  Lights, a musician he’d managed for 12 years, cut all ties. The Globe and Mail revealed Ghomeshi “trolled” his Facebook and Twitter followers looking for dates and that he didn’t write all of his opening monologues.  Former guests on Q including Margaret Atwood have issued a petition to speak out against Ghomeshi.

The CBC issued a memo on Friday saying what they knew and when, and offered employees counselling.  They have given the whole Q team a week off where no new shows will be produced.The scandal is CBC Radio’s lead story on all newscasts today.

To cap it off,  Ghomeshi has been diagnosed as an incurable clinical narcissist on social media.

In the court of public opinion, and compared to Jian Ghomeshi, convicted rapist and murderer, the former Colonel Russell Williams seems to have gotten off pretty lightly.  And the Armed Forces didn’t court martial him until after his conviction, I recall.

Why is that I wonder?  Why are so many people so revolted by Jian Ghomeshi, his deeds, alleged and otherwise?   His pariah status is entrenched.  Hie former colleagues can’t beat a path from him fast or loud enough.  As far as we are to understand, it’s their concern for victims of violence that has driven them to their desertion.

Perhaps we’re beyond any reasonable discussion on the matter, but here are ten questions this inquiring mind would like to know.  

  1. Is the corporate culture at the CBC one that tolerates bad behaviour (sexually or otherwise threatening) and allows it to go unchecked?
  2. Are there instances of other (on or off-air) employees of the CBC creating toxic environments for women?
  3. Is Ghomeshi’s race and religion a factor in either his behaviour being overlooked, on the one hand, or making it particularly revolting on the other?
  4. Is the emotionally edgy “bad-boy” trope something that’s accepted in the literary, media and arts community as part of being “artistic.”
  5. How does the CBC enforce it’s code of standards. Have there ever been any harassment complaints successfully resolved or processed at the CBC in the past 10 years?
  6. Had anyone ever sat down with Ghomeshi to tell him his behaviour was problematic? What were the results?
  7. What more can we do to help the many other victims of sexual and physical assault, and domestic abuse in addition to the ones in this story?
  8. Is this story such a big one because the women are, as the Toronto Star said in its first “bombshell” story,”‘educated and employed” and why do their alleged assaults repulse us so much more than the murder and sexual assault of Aboriginal women? (who are four times greater to die or be assaulted.)
  9. What are the typical wait lists (if any) for services? Is there a ‘two-tiered’ support system available for women who’ve been abused? Do a high profile cases get further up the waiting list for services?  
  10. Is mental illness a factor in this story?

This is, for better or worse, a big story now, and one that deserves more than a single angle. Let this not be another moment when we, yet again, give another complex problem a simple solution.  There’s a lot of moving parts in this story and Jian Ghomeshi is only one.


Author Photo 01 Sandy Tam PhotographyGail Picco is a strategist who has worked in the nonprofit sector for 25 years. She is the author of What the Enemy Thinks, a recent novel set in the nonprofit sector, and is Chair of the Board of the Regent Park Film Festival. She also writes about baseball and F1 racing.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


  1. These are definitely questions I’d like to see answered, although I suspect that the answer to #8 has little to do with the women attacked and everything to do with the public profile of the accused attacker. That said, yes, “respectable” complainants–educated, employed, presumably Caucasian–are less likely to be ignored or completely discounted. Profiling, in other words.
    Picky point on question 5, “How does the CBC enforce it’s code…”. The possessive not the contraction is called for here, “enforce its code”. Also, on your FAQ page… it’s “A Confederacy of Dunces”, not “The Confederacy of Dunces.” Quite visible on the cover you posted of the book in question. Yes, I will doubtless be reincarnated as a dancing paperclip.

    • I think you’ll find a few more if you keep looking around the site. The first person to find five before the end of November gets a blue pencil! There’s actually one more in this blog post. Take another look and see if you can find it.

      • Oh dear, a challenge. I found: “posit” for post; “Jian Ghomeshi’s being” should be Jian Ghomeshi being; “that is it was ‘way out there” has an unnecessary ‘is’ separating “that it”; “and a three” has an unnecessary ‘a’; “produced.The scandal” needs a single space after the period; “like to know.” would make more sense as “like answered.”; “artistic.” the sentence-ending period should be outside the quotes, and should be a question mark; “story,”‘educated” lacks a space after the comma, and has both a single and double quote, rather than a matching double quote alone; “(who” needs the ‘w’ capitalized; and finally, “typical wait lists” likely ought to be “typical wait times”. I had no idea I was so obsessed with grammar/spelling; possibly I do need to go find a life to have, or more of one. What’s more important is that your content is well-worth follow-up visits so I’ve bookmarked your site. Promise to retire my red pencil and enjoy the read from now on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: