Love it or hate it, we need the CBC.
Especially in the Yukon and other parts of northern Canada.
It connects us, informs us, entertains us and, yes, at times can also irk us.
But whether raised at the knee of the Friendly Giant or just needing to know if it’s going to rain or snow in Beaver Creek before getting on with the day, we’ve all benefited from the public broadcaster at some point along the line.
Sure, we all like to take a swipe at the Mother Corp now and again.
Maybe you’re sick of hockey or can’t stand classical music or are starving for more local news.
Bashing the CBC is easy and almost as cathartic as slagging Yukon government workers.
But the reality is that in today’s rapidly growing, rapidly changing territory, a strong and vibrant CBC – locally, regionally and nationally – is more important than ever.
In the past 20 years, government after government has put the squeeze on the corporation, slowly whittling away its workforce and its programming.
In the Yukon and across the country, CBC employees are struggling to do more with less.
Come Thursday, when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty hands down his much-dreaded “austerity” budget, that struggle for all federally-funded departments and agencies will likely get even more difficult. All have been asked to prep for cuts in the five to 10 per cent range.
The far-flung regions of the country – where there are fewer listeners, fewer viewers and, coincidentally, fewer voters – will likely take the biggest hit. Even if it makes no sense.
The Yukon is growing. The CBC is shrinking. Go figure.
Ottawa is happy to send more money to the Yukon government every year. It doesn’t mind helping Northwestel do its job in a vast, but sparsely populated areas. And CanNor is regularly dishing out dough for some pet project or another.
Yet when it comes to the CBC, a service people need, use and rely on – the feds pull out the knife.
Talk about a double standard.
Even though Yukon Conservative MP Ryan Leef has fond memories of being interviewed by the CBC as a kid, he says he’s OK with the cuts as long as they are applied fairly to all.
Maybe he doesn’t realize that if he were that same kid today there would be no reporter waiting at the top of the Dome for him to cross the finish line.
And that’s a shame.
If Ottawa truly cared about the North – beyond a place to expand its military might and rake in resource royalties – it wouldn’t be telling the CBC to prepare for less.
Instead, it would bury the hatchet, buy some flowers and promise to beef up financial support so the CBC could do the job we all want it to do.