By Martin O’Hanlon
President, CWA/SCA Canada
Making New Year’s predictions is risky business.
Last January, I predicted the worst would be over for newspapers in 2014 and things would start to improve.
Well, I may have been half right.
The last year, like the last decade, was not kind to the media industry. We saw more deep and damaging cuts at a number of employers, with the CBC and Halifax Chronicle Herald hardest hit.
In Halifax, a proud and vibrant newsroom was stunned and battered by deep cuts that came with no warning, empathy or delicacy.
At the CBC, we are losing hundreds of colleagues and unless we get a government that will provide adequate funding, the survival of our public broadcaster is in doubt.
As we begin 2015, I remain confident that things will improve, but we can’t just sit back and hope. We must stand up for jobs and journalism, and we must build a movement for social and economic justice. After all, if we don’t, who will?
Each of us has a part to play and once again, I am asking every member of CWA Canada to do something – even just one small thing – to help as we launch two new campaigns.
The first, the “Save the CBC” campaign, is already gearing up under the direction of our biggest local, the Canadian Media Guild.
The goal is to make quality public broadcasting a ballot box issue in this year’s federal election.
For years now, the CBC has been starved of the funds it needs to fulfill its federally legislated mandate.
The Harper Conservatives, while scared to kill the CBC outright, have not been shy about showing their disdain for public broadcasting. Unless they change their position, or unless we have a new government committed to public broadcasting, the CBC will fade away.
That unthinkable prospect would be a huge blow to Canadian culture and it would mean the loss of CBC News, with far fewer journalists to keep an eye on government, politicians and corporate power brokers.
That’s bad for society and democracy and we can’t let it happen.
So what can we do?
Over the coming weeks and months, we will use email, Twitter, Facebook and workplace posters to let you know how you can help.
It could be:
• Attending a Save the CBC rally
• Signing an online petition
• Joining our Facebook page
• Retweeting Twitter posts
• Telling your local MP that the CBC matters to you
Our second campaign is to stop Canada from signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a secretive “trade” deal being negotiated behind closed doors.
The TPP isn’t really a trade agreement at all – it’s a cozy arrangement that would give corporations unprecedented new international powers and it’s being negotiated with plenty of input from corporations and almost no involvement from elected officials, never mind labour leaders or environmental experts.
The TPP would have a major impact on Canada, yet almost no one is talking about it. We must change that.
Under the TPP:
· Foreign corporations would be able to challenge Canadian laws (environment, safety, etc.) bypassing Canadian courts and going directly to closed-door international tribunals that could override Canadian sovereignty.
· Canada would lose thousands more jobs as companies move production overseas, particularly to Vietnam where garment workers earn just 50 cents an hour.
With both the CBC and TPP campaigns, we have to build a movement, working with other progressives, including community organizations, social groups, student activists, environmentalists, religious leaders – anyone with whom we can find a common interest.
Again, over the coming months, we will use email and social media to let you know how you can help.
One person and one act at a time, working together, we can make a difference.
Let’s each do our part in 2015 to protect quality jobs, defend quality journalism – and make Canada a better place.