The CBC shows us exactly how it’s done—workplace bullying, I mean

When comedian and CBC host, Rick Mercer, stepped out onto the stage of the Giller Awards Gala on November 10th, having replaced Jian Ghomeshi as host, everyone wondered if, and how, he would bring up the Ghomeshi scandal.

The hotel ballroom was a beautifully decorated CBC set. The tables were laid with jaunty CBC-themed red linens, shining glassware and cutlery. The audience was beautiful too. Dressed in ball gowns and tuxedos, they clapped appreciatively for Rick Mercer. He is well liked and deservedly so. As a fellow Newfoundlander, I feel proud of him.

As it turned out, Mercer went at Ghomeshi with a bit of a deke.

He introduced former Giller recipient Dr. Vincent Lam, and made a little joke about him being “only a life-saving emergency room doctor if it wasn’t for his Giller Prize.”

He then introduced Linden MacIntyre, a 38-year veteran of the CBC, who received the Giller in 2009, which the audience also greeted with applause. Then the camera panned to MacIntyre’s wife, Carol Off, as Rick exhorted that her show, As it Happens, was his favourite CBC radio show and that Carol Off’s face “should be the face you see when you think of CBC radio.”

Carol Off

Carol Off at the 2014 Giller Awards, as Rick Mercer declares her the desired face of CBC radio.







Hmmm….. Was that the Ghomeshi line?

I wasn’t sure at the time if the writers of the show decided Rick should say that because Carol is a well-seasoned and highly regarded journalist or if they just wanted people to think of anyone but Jian. Or was it that she’d just interviewed one of the women reporting abuse at the hands of Ghomeshi on her show? Or maybe the CBC was skewing their brand female in an effort to save itself? All these thoughts raced through my mind, but I was none the wiser because no elaboration was given.

All Rick said was that Carol should be the face we conjure up when we’re having our CBC daydreams.

But as of last week, Carol’s husband, Linden MacIntyre, has fallen from grace at the CBC and I’m not sure if Carol, as spouse of the shunned, is along for the the trap door ride.  Should we now be thinking of someone else’s face when we think of the CBC?

MacIntyre’s crime, reported Simon Houpt of the Globe and Mail, was that about a week and a half after the Gillers, he publicly mentioned Jian Ghomeshi, Peter Mansbridge and Peter Gzowski in the same breath when doing a bit of a Linden MacIntyre ramble about the tyranny of workplace celebrity. I think the point he was trying to make was that if you challenge the big shots, you get punished, or something of that nature.

And it turned out Linden MacIntyre was right.

The retribution was swift and rained down on him hard.

  • On November 19th, Jennifer Harwood, the managing editor of CBC News Network, told staff “we are cancelling any interviews with Linden MacIntyre … ahead of this Friday’s scheduled episode of The Fifth Estate. It’s time to stand up for Peter. And stand up for what’s good and right at the CBC … .”
  • On November 23rd, The National’s senior Washington correspondent Neil Macdonald threw a few stones of his own. “All right, spare me,” he wrote. “Really. Linden MacIntyre is acting like a self-righteous horse’s ass. [MacIntyre’s] humblebrag … his stupid comparison of Peter Mansbridge to Jian Ghomeshi … his snarky verdict that a thousand CBCers should quit and take pensions to make room for young talent … is insufferable nonsense.”
  • Amanda Lang, CBC’s senior business correspondent chimed in, “I’m only sorry I didn’t write this [Macdonald post] myself.”
  • So did Peter Mansbridge’s wife, actress, Cynthia Dale, declaring on Twitter “THANKYOU Neil Macdonald” with the hashtag“#rightsideofhistory.”

Thank you for calling Linden MacIntyre a “horse’s ass?”

Jennifer McGuire, the general manager and editor-in-chief of CBC News did step in after Harwood’s first memo writing that a Linden MacIntyre ban was off the table. “Our airwaves are not for personal use,” she felt the need to say, “it’s a public trust, and we do not make editorial decisions based on bad press or relationships or anything. That’s not the editorial filter we use.”

Oddly, despite their long careers as journalists, senior Washington Bureau Chief Macdonald and Senior Business Correspondent Lang hadn’t yet gotten on board with that editorial filter.

Jennifer Harwood, the original sniper and continuing managing editor of CBC News Network, issued a second memo to say she’d been shortsighted with her first memo, and generously wrote that, “My [last] note was written in the heat of the moment. Linden has now apologized. I think it is time to move on.”

So that is, Gentle Readers, how the pros at the CBC do it.

Linden MacIntyre, incidentally, was awarded his 2009 Giller Prize for the book, The Bishop’s Man, about which the Globe and Mail wrote:

“With The Bishop’s Man, Linden MacIntyre keeps his unwavering and award-winning investigative reporter’s eyes on the most disturbing crime in our society, the sexual abuse of children.”

At least someone is keeping his eyes out for disturbing crime.


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.



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