Will Harper Sell CBC and/or Canada Post under TPP Agreement?


JUL 30, 2015


The CBC Ottawa Broadcast Centre and head office of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Sparks Street in Ottawa. A confidential letter published by WikiLeaks on Wednesday reveals that the Crown Corporation could be sold under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Photo: OBERT MADONDO/The Canadian Progressive


A secret letter leaked by WikiLeaks on Wednesday reveals that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Canada Post could be sold under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, being negotiated by Canada and 11 other countries this week in Maui, Hawaii.

The confidential letter, titled, “State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Issues for Ministerial Guidance” (PDF), reveals the perils Canada’s key Crown Corporations now face under the Harper government’s burgeoning privatization and trade agenda.

The leaked document was prepared for a TPP Ministerial Meeting held in Singapore in December, 2013. According to the whistle-blowing website, the document “indicates a wide-ranging privatisation and globalisation strategy” whose main aim is to undermine state-owned enterprises (SOEs) – publicly owned corporations whose mandate is to deliver the public good with no or minimal commercial considerations. That will change under the TPP.

“Even an SOE that exists to fulfil a public function neglected by the market or which is a natural monopoly would nevertheless be forced to act ‘on the basis of commercial considerations’,” said WikiLeaks in a press release introducing the leak. “Foreign companies would be given standing to sue SOEs in domestic courts for perceived departures from the strictures of the TPP, and countries could even be sued by other TPP countries, or by private companies from those countries.”

The Council of Canadians, which leads the Canadian campaign against the TPP and other reckless trade agreements, is concerned that the “essence and mandate” of both the CBC and  Canada Post “are being traded away in favour of private corporate profit” under the TPP.

“The very mission of the CBC – telling the bilingual and multicultural story of Canada – will be reduced to simple profit making,”  said Sujata Dey, the Council’s trade campaigner. “Likewise, Canada Post will no longer function as a nation builder, but as a private company.”

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting says Harper’s “hidden agenda to damage public broadcasting” started in November, 2007, when he appointed Hubert Lacroix, a Montreal lawyer and Conservative Party supporter, as the President and CEO of the CBC. In 2014, Lacroix announced that the CBC would lay off between 1,000 and 1,500 employees by 2020. He also announced plans to shut down key in-house production of popular feature documentaries.

Meanwhile, since 2012, the Harper government has slashed the CBC’s budget by a quarter of a billion dollars. Garry Neil, the Council’s executive director, noted that, due to these cuts, the CBC is “already acting too commercially and straying from its essential public service mandate.”



  1. The amazing thing about this is that their is actually a buyer for the CBC and the Post Office out there? Maybe I can get rid of some old 8-Tracks I found in the basement.

  2. Public radio and television have always been free of commercials and right wing corporate propaganda, that is what is so appealing about it. Here in the U.S. though, corporate influence is beginning to be seen on our Public Television stations. There is no doubt that the corporate agenda is to control the programming and commercialize all forms of news, communication, and entertainment sources. Fight back Canada!

  3. Robert Sullivan: Not sure if you have ever heard the CBC but is has been argued effectively that they are full of left wing propaganda. Which is fine but since they are funded by the taxpayers consisting of left and right wing folks it should be balanced. Otherwise it should be cut free to espouse whatever thoughts they have but find funding in their target groups rather than mooching off of the taxpayer.

  4. Doesn’t matter who wins the upcoming election, once the TPP is ratified, the party in power will be unable to make changes to the agreement.

    I’ve always been a big proponent of the CBC, but with the wholesale changes happening within the media landscape, not just in Canada but worldwide, the corp’s current business model may be completely unfeasible (and unworkable) inside the next few years. While it has been a cornerstone in helping to create a sense of national identity, perhaps we need to rethink the CBC as a whole. IMO, Radio One is essential, as it offers content commercial operators won’t provide; Radio Two, would anybody really notice it not being there? And the TV services, sadly, maybe it’s time to let them go.

    In this digital age, who needs a conventional TV channel? Perhaps the stuff CBC does well, like the news & long form documentary programming, can thrive online via the CBC web portal. I realize that violates the mandate of providing accessible service to everybody, but the precedent has already been set, during the change-over to digital transmission, with some communities were permanently left without any sort of CBC TV signal when the analogue towers were powered down. There are parts of the country where, unless you’re watching cable, CBC TV doesn’t exist.

    If the government of the day is forced to divest the CBC, then the rules regarding foreign media ownership would have to be scrapped completely, as there is no single owner in this country who would be willing, or able, to buy the CBC as we know it. So your options are to sell it piece by piece to Canadian media companies (at which point you lose the national identity aspect), or sell it all to a foreign entity, at which point it would simply become just another conventional broadcaster (i.e. CTV, Global, ABC, CBS, NBC).

    Perhaps the smart thing to do would be to just push all the TV content online, turn off the conventional transmitters and call it a day.


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