A Liberal MP will raise the issue of the CBC Radio Orchestra's disbandment in Ottawa. Don Bell, who represents North Vancouver, told the Straight he will present a short statement in the House of Commons when Parliament reconvenes Monday (April 28).
“What I intend to do is simply to call on the government to ensure that the CBC Radio Orchestra is maintained, and that adequate money be provided for that purpose,” Bell told the Straight after his appearance at a well-attended afternoon rally at the Chan Centre on April 20, prior to the orchestra’s Great Canadian Songbook II concert at the venue. The performance was the first by the orchestra since CBC Radio music director Mark Steinmetz and executive director of programming Jennifer McGuire informed members of the orchestra on March 27 that the 70-year-old institution will be disbanded after a final concert in November.
Bell was joined at the rally by Vancouver Quadra Liberal MP Joyce Murray and Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Bill Siksay, as well as Colin Miles, B.C. regional director of the Canadian Music Centre, and Richard Kurth, director of the UBC School of Music, in addressing the approximately 300-strong crowd. Hoisting signs that read “Bring Bach Classical Music”, “CBC Listen to Your Listeners”, and “Condemn Bullshit Cutbacks”, protesters chanted, distributed petitions, and manned letter-writing stations.
Murray and Siksay called on the federal Conservatives to follow the advice of the standing committee on Canadian heritage, which recommended in its February report titled “CBC/Radio-Canada: Defining Distinctiveness in the Changing Media Landscape” that funding for the CBC be increased from $33 to at least $40 per capita.
On April 11, Siksay raised the issue of CBC funding in the House of Commons, asking, “Will the government adopt the unanimous heritage committee recommendations and provide increased stable, multi-year funding to CBC Radio-Canada?” The response from Jim Abbott, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Canadian heritage, was that the minister would respond to the report “in due course”.