Ottawa and Montreal—The Public Service Alliance of Canada—Quebec Region (PSAC-Québec), learned on Monday that its new video “Harper vous souhaite bon appétit” could not be aired on the radio-canada.ca and TOU.TV web sites.
Online on theunion's YouTube channel (click for English version) since March 14, the video denounces the $56 million in cuts imposed by the Harper government on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. It is the first of four videos in a web campaign being launched by the union against budget cuts in the federal public service.
The office of Advertising Standards at CBC/Radio-Canada explained their decision by saying: [translated from French] “we believe that broadcasting this advertisement on our platforms risks giving the impression that Radio-Canada is involved or associated, directly or indirectly, with a particular position in the public debate over the federal budget.”
The CBC and Radio-Canada are also affected by the Harper government’s cuts,” said Magali Picard, Executive Vice-President of PSAC-Quebec. “Perhaps this is why they are afraid of being associated with our campaign and broadcasting our video on their platforms. We understand their situation, but we also believe that their independence is put into question if they are forced to make decisions on the basis of politics. It is a kind of political pressure, even if it is indirect.”
“The purpose of our campaign is to oppose, certainly, but also to inform. We believe it is our responsibility to denounce these dangerous cuts to food inspection and other public services, and inform citizens of their consequences,” continued Picard. “We are doing this not just to protect our members, but also to protect the population. For example, citizens have a right to know that, as a result of these cuts, we now have the same number of food inspectors as we did before the listeriosis crisis in 2008, and that is dangerous for all our health.”
The Harper government spends millions of dollars each year to spread its message in the mainstream media, especially on public television. It does not hesitate to use public money to persuade Canadians that it is possible to eliminate 20,000 jobs in the civil service without citizens suffering the consequences.
PSAC-Quebec believes it has the right and duty to explain to the public what the government’s official messaging ignores. Not having the considerable financial means of the Harper government, the union hoped to reach a wider audience by broadcasting this video on radio-canada.ca and TOU.TV.