Categories for Musings
Better late than never, I suppose.
“Despite his inflammatory word choice (“classist” would have been more accurate), many Torontonians realized Kinsella had a valid point. Tory later amended his transit plan to include the already planned Sheppard and Finch LRTs, which would serve those neighbourhoods.”
I stand by what I said: John Tory – he who belonged for years to a private golf course that didn’t admit Jews or minorities, and about which he did precisely nothing for years – had a transit plan that treated one part of the city more equally than others.
You can ask if that is divisive, or ask if it is impartial, or ask if it is segregationist. To me, it is was and is.
What’s a conflict of interest, anyway?
A conflict of interest happens when a person has multiple interests, and one of those interests could compromise – or corrupt – something the person has been asked to do.
At the risk of sounding like a lawyer (guilty as charged), a conflict of interest happens when a secondary interest unduly influences a primary interest.
It’s important to remember that the conflict need not actually happen to be a problem. It merely needs to be a risk – a possibility – to be a problem.
The CBC’s investigation in the Jian Ghomeshi case, then, raises the possibility of a conflict of interest. The Liberal Party’s request for a House of Commons investigation in the case of two former Liberal MPs does not.
For starters, the public broadcaster’s Ghomeshi probe looks illegitimate before it even begins. Justin Trudeau’s request that the Speaker of Commons investigate MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, meanwhile, is a good example of how to avoid a conflict of interest problem.
The contrasts could hardly be more stark. The CBC has retained Janice Rubin, an employment lawyer, to write two reports arising out of the Ghomeshi sexual misconduct allegations. One report is aimed at preventing “similar issues from arising in our orgnaization in the future,” CBC staff were told in a memo. The other report will apparently be about Ghomeshi-related complaints.
But there is a problem: Rubin, while respected and knowledgeable, is in a perceived conflict. She has appeared on CBC radio and television shows many times. She is a regular contributor to CBC programming, arguably like Jian Ghomeshi was.
Rubin is not a CBC employee. CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson promptly responded to a request about whether has been paid in the past for her contributions. His answer: yes. Rubin was paid once, “a nominal amount,” many years ago, by the same CBC Radio that employed Ghomeshi.
Rubin’s guesting on CBC is not the only perceived problem, however. Another is this: Rubin’s terms of reference, her mandate, have already been set by the CBC itself. So, the organization that is being investigated has already decided what should be investigated.
That’s more than a potential conflict of interest, it’s outrageous. And, combined with Rubin’s past appearances on the CBC, it potentially renders the whole “investigation” a joke.
A very senior former CBC reporter sent this writer a note about all this on Wednesday. The Rubin probe “has the appearance of a whitewash already,” this person wrote. What, this person queried, about sexual harassment/oppression cases which don’t involve Ghomeshi? (I personally know of at least three such cases, involving former CBC TV luminaries. In one case, the woman was physically attacked in an elevator by the CBC star, who was called “The Octopus.”)
My anonymous correspondent noted that, if the CBC’s human relations department has “already been involved in disposition/settlement of harassment claims,” it would have no desire to reopen cases it “had previously ignored or burried with compensation.” Another conflict.
Contrast all of this with what Trudeau did in the Andrews and Pacetti cases. He didn’t hire a Liberal to investigate – he referred the mess to the Speaker, who happens to be a Conservative MP.
He didn’t bring in someone who had done paid work for the Liberal Party in the past.
And, most critically, he didn’t tell the Speaker what the terms of reference were. He didn’t attempt to limit the scope of the probe. He asked the Speaker to examine whatever he saw fit to investigate, however he saw fit to investigate.
That is how you do it. Not the way the CBC has.
That’s always the case – but it’s particularly the case when we are (finally) examining the pestilence that is sexual harassment. It is a very serious problem, and it needs to be treated seriously. Justin Trudeau is doing that.
The CBC, meanwhile, is not.
…so said a Sun News colleague to me. (My response: “No kidding. Good!”)
Maybe that’s the one good thing coming out of the Ghomeshi case: it’s starting to change our world. It’s about time, no?
Oh, and good on Trudeau for making this move, so swiftly. That’s how it’s done, Party That Gave Us Jack Ramsay.
I’ve got 17,000 Twitter followers, and I’ve got you in my sights, pal. You’re in trouble, now.
1. It’s being done by someone who has regularly been a CBC contributor.
2. It’s not looking at the conduct of others who have been at CBC. It should.
3. It is not arm’s length.
In that regard, here is an email sent by a former (and senior CBC) person to me this morning. Heed his/her words:
The report into workplace harassment and improprieties at the CBC has the appearance of a white wash already.
Former employees with concerns that are unrelated to Ghomeshi specifically are directed to contact HR and not the external investigator.
How is HR, an arm of management, likely to receive information from former employees? Particularly if HR has already been involved in their disposition/settlement of a harassment claim? Why would the HR department revisit anything it previously ignored or buried with compensation?
The standard of review announced by CBC is totally inadequate.
Joe Warmington: Did anybody offer to help pay you, or any of that?
Karen Stintz: Uh, yeah.
[A bit later…]
Karen Stintz: Well, you know, I’m learning in politics, that promises really aren’t promises, they’re just good intentions.
Joe Warmington: So somebody offered? The John Tory camp or…?
Karen Stintz: We’ll see.
Joe Warmington: So they did make that deal with you?
The full segment is (finally) here. I am told, by a very reliable source, that Stintz wanted the question asked, on-air, about a Tory operative offering $35,000 in exchange for her no longer being a candidate. And, when Joe asked the question, Stintz was delighted.
Whatever could it all mean? And, while we’re on the subject, has a Tory supporter engaged in a “corrupt practice” (cf. ss. 89-94, Municipal Elections Act, R.S.O. 1996, c. 32)? And, you know, repeated history?