Premier Horgan Rips CBC for Sacking Zussman

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Mike Smyth by MIKE SMYTH, The Province

Premier John Horgan says he thinks it’s ‘outrageous’ that the CBC fired legislative reporter Richard Zussman for co-authoring a book without obtaining proper approval. CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS
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Columnist Mike Smyth writes about CBC firing reporter Richard Zussman for co-writing a book on B.C. politics without receiving proper approval. Premier John Horgan harshly criticizes the decision in an interview.

It’s not often you hear a B.C. premier lash out at a major media organization over an internal personnel matter.

But that’s exactly what Premier John Horgan is doing, ripping into the CBC after the public broadcaster fired Richard Zussman, the network’s hard-working and popular legislative reporter.

“I think it’s outrageous,” Horgan told me in an exclusive interview.

“The guy’s a professional and he’s being treated very, very poorly by an organization that clearly doesn’t understand his value to them.

“They’re burning a very useful asset. As a business decision, it’s a bad one.”

The CBC fired Zussman after he co-wrote a book about B.C. politics with Postmedia reporter Rob Shaw.
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The book — about the fall of Christy Clark’s Liberal government and rise of Horgan’s NDP — is set to be published in the spring.

Zussman’s sin is that he did not secure proper written approvals from senior CBC management to co-write the book, I’m told.

“We made the decision to terminate Mr. Zussman’s employment with CBC based on the findings of a third-party investigation,” said CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson.

He said the investigation showed Zussman violated CBC’s code of conduct, conflict-of-interest rules and the collective agreement with the Canadian Media Guild union.

“Mr. Zussman’s employment with CBC was not terminated simply for co-authoring a book,” Thompson stressed.

While the guild agreement says employees “may not work with the competition” or “exploit their connection with the CBC,” the union said there needs to be “latitude” for employees to pursue outside activities.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Without knowing an awful lot about the Zussman/CBC Employment Agreement we can see that the CBC were for some reason playing Hardball On this and they reacted quite harshly and technically they may be within their rights.

    Having said that it certainly appears like overreach On the part of CBC and it makes me wonder if there was some underlying problem festering between Management and Zussman.

    Trying to take my Conservative Politics out of this I tend to agree with Horgan On this as things appear on the surface.

    One thing for sure the CBC look like Bullies on this and they should review their Policy.
    Again, I hope Zussman and SHAW sell many Books and I hope Zussman finds rewarding work very quickly.

    I for one would like to know much more about what went on behind the scene and the full story on the reasons behind the decisions of CBC Management,

    This will be an interesting story to follow, let’s hope we see a lot more transparency on this, it appears to me there is a lot more to this saga than what we have learned up to now.

  2. While I have little or no interest in this gentleman’s dismissal I do have strong opinion over unions.
    Given the choice of belonging to a union or not I would choose based on the need for job protection and the strength of Federal or Provincial labor laws.
    Sadly this reporter belongs to a “public sector” union. From the limited info given it appears he violated the collective agreement in more than a few ways. Trivial violations? Depends on your pov. Mr Horgan being a staunch union supporter should realize this.

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