When CBC first announced its intention and approach to investigating the Jian Ghomeshi scandal, it seemed to be more of a public relations stunt than anything else. To me, it seemed more to protect itself than those who have experienced harassment at the hands of the corporation’s superstar.
In fact, the investigation plan was so questionable that the CBC’s own union representative, the Canadian Media Guild, cautioned employees against speaking to lawyer and investigation leader, Janice Rubin. Why? It could cost them their jobs.
Despite it being voluntary, CBC offered informants no reward or security. Rubin would record all interviews but those being interviewed were not allowed to do the same. Interviewees were eventually extended the seemingly fair opportunity to review a transcript of their interview, but not make changes.
Although the investigation was about Ghomeshi, it seemed that anyone who volunteered information was also volunteering to be investigated. Not only does CBC have access to the recordings, but it has also told CMG they may be “relied on by management to discipline the employee being interviewed.”
Making the whole investigation seemingly pointless.
But it turns out that I, and everyone else who questioned CBC’s intentions, may have been wrong. On January 5, the network announced Chris Boyce, the executive director of CBC Radio, and Todd Spencer, its executive director of human resources and industrial relations, had been placed on leaves of absence.
The removal of Spencer is almost expected, as HR played an important role in enabling the harassments to go on by failing to stand up for the employees, but suspending of Boyce is the most reassuring He fumbled through his interview in November, where he said that it had not been his place to conduct a police investigation but believed they did what they thought was best at the time, but “in any case, hindsight is 20-20.” It is well known that Boyce had a lot invested in Ghomeshi, as he was “instrumental” in making him a star, and would be one of the least keen to see him fall from fame; therefore, he may have turned a blind eye.
There are still questions about whether or not these senior executives were sent home with pay, or what will come next. But at least it appears CBC deserves more credit than I initially gave.
Originally published by the Ryerson Review of Journalism on January 15, 2015