Stephen Harper and James Moore hold the murder weapon in the killing of CBC Dispatches
Last night, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore was on late-night TV justifying his government's $115-million cut to the CBC over three years.
Lots will be written about the impact, so I'm going to focus on one of the decisions: the elimination of the CBC Radio show Dispatches in June.
It's symptomatic of so much that is wrong with Moore and the Conservative government.
For those who aren't aware of Dispatches, it's a wonderful program that airs radio documentaries by superb journalists around the world, as well as some incredible interviews.
The host, West Vancouver–raised Rick MacInnes-Rae, sounds like an old friend, bringing his listeners to exotic locations to hear riveting stories.
Some of Canada's most outstanding journalists—including former Vancouver residents Laura Lynch, Adrienne Arsenault, and Jared Ferrie—tell compelling tales on the ground about real people, not officialdom, in a breathtaking array of different countries.
Dispatches taught me about the Nigerian film industry, known as Nollywood. This prompted me to encourage former movies editor Craig Takeuchi to get a story about Nollywood published in the Georgia Straight.
Dispatches offered me an alternative perspective on the widely held view that the Sudanese government is engaged in a campaign of genocide in Darfur.
Dispatches has provided me with an invaluable education about the Arab Spring, the pursuit of freedom in China, and the RCMP's efforts to crack down on Canadian companies engaged in bribery overseas.
In the Stephen Harper era, we shouldn't be surprised that the axe has come down on this fine program.
That's because the Harper government doesn't want us to be very well-educated about the rest of the world.
This prime minister prefers Canadians to be ignorant. The proof is in the elimination of the long-form census, the refusal to allow the media unfettered access to government scientists, and the ongoing campaign to deny the real impact of climate change.
In this era, the CBC can fill the airwaves with traffic, sports, weather, and stock-market reports—and the blustering Kevin O'Leary—just like every private broadcaster. But it had better not let people know what's happening in Africa, where the effects of climate change and Harper's decision to withdraw aid are having a pernicious impact.
I hope this isn't the end of Dispatches. Perhaps when Harper is defeated—and that day will eventually come—we will have an enlightened minister of Canadian heritage who recognizes that Canadians' curiosity doesn't stop at the border. And this minister will make a priority of bringing back a public-radio show focused on global issues.
Shame on Harper and shame on Moore for their role in keeping Canadians in the dark about the rest of the world. They can try to blame CBC executives for the death of Dispatches, but they're the ones who pulled the trigger.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.