“Here I come to save the day!”

I think everyone knows that the CBC/Radio-Canada Board of Directors are patronage appointments. By that I mean someone owed these guys a favour so they got on the BoD.

I mean, Rai Sahi is on it. He’s the CBC’s landlord in Ottawa and Paul Martin’s close friend. This is kind of embarrassing. What could he possibly have to add to CBC board meetings? Tell us when garbage day is?

These guys are not expected to work too hard up there. It’s a résumé thing.

Which made last week’s enthusiasm and later disappointment over the BoD’s “full review” of the lockout all that more surprising. I think the guys on the line have way more faith in the BoD than the managers inside. No one in here expected anything at all.

Don’t get me wrong: the BoD are all educated people, polite to fault, erudite, and fine members of the community. But the CBC is careening down the toilet, breaking the law by shirking its mandate, ripping off taxpayers, and putting thousands out of work. It takes a special kind of talent to fix this kind of mess. More like Father Christmas than Bernd Christmas.

The sad thing is that former chair Carole Taylor put a lot of time and effort into choosing some new BoD members, people that would have been useful to the CBC. In the end, none of her recommendations were followed, and some old favours were repaid with appointments. This was one of the frustrations that lead her to quit the CBC altogether.

That’s the story I heard, anyways.

So in the same vein I’m surprised by all this enthusiasm for Joe Fontana today. He’s a no-name politician: not only is he the last guy we want help from, but the one least likely to help. And there’s not much he can do.

But of course, Joe has already won. He’s thrown some muscle around, shut down negotiations for 2 days, ordered everyone to Ottawa, and shown Canadians he’s a concerned guy. If things work out, he can take some of the credit, and if they don’t he can spin it any way he needs to so that he comes out on top. This is how a no-name politician gets a little higher.

I just wouldn’t expect much more out of it than that.


  1. Aigle De Nuit
    Posted September 28, 2005 at 1:17 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    EEEK! Battling AnonyMice! (and not MightyMice..liked the page title)

    Sheesh…getta room…or at least an blogger account.

    I don’t care if you call yourselves Biff666 or Blink182…this is really confusing.

    It’s like watching a game of ping-ping!


  2. Anonymous
    Posted September 28, 2005 at 7:19 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Dear Mr. Anonymous manager,
    Your post shows the true void that yawns between ‘the two solitudes’ of our establishment.
    Has it never occured to you that we are a broadcast organisation? Have you NEVER been been part of the creative soul that makes us what we are?
    ‘First off, the fact that they are Managers has already demonstrated their desire to achieve something more than the status quo.’
    Are you out of your mind? No-one in management, repeat NO-ONE, can, by the very definition of their jobs, be part of the real creativity that is generated everyday by our sorry little crew. Juggling schedules and ‘motivating staff’ doesn’t cut it. You can be the patron but you can NEVER be the artist.
    I’ll be a LOT more respectful when I hear that you’ve brought home an international award for your efforts. And the number of people that have been so honoured in CMG are not inconsiderable.

  3. 12 Year Bitch
    Posted September 28, 2005 at 7:15 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Dear Anonymous Middle Manager:

    I’m the one who posted earlier; 12 years on the job and so on. Thanks for responding in a way that is so telling about the workplace we all seem to share.

    I would definitely agree; ‘tokens of responsibility’ is exactly what is entailed in my particular job. Under the pretense of something much different. I always assumed my ‘responsibilities’ were to be taken seriously, and I approached my job in this way.

    We can conclude from this that CBC management ‘manipulates’ rather than ‘manages’. This makes sense, and explains why so much of what I deal with from management is so contradictory. I always did supect I was being ‘jerked around’. How else to explain the seeming incapability of management to act and communicate in a cohesive fashion?

    And maybe it’s true, the hapless managers I deal with are lumbered with working with an incompetent like myself. Still… one would think that such blundering would be dealt with in a straightforward fashion at our yearly performance review. I was instead led to believe I was doing a great job.

    Looks like we can now add basic dishonesty to the list of management qualifications. And to what end?

    I realize that there are managers in the place who are decent people, hard working, good at their jobs, etc. I know a few. These are charged days. But I stand by my point about the ‘status quo’ completely.

    I’m not really sure if you are a manager at all… You sound more like a former manager I once had the distinct displeasure working for. I’m not sure a CBC manager would actually shit the bed in the way you just did.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted September 28, 2005 at 6:59 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    First..I am not a Middle Manager(at the CBC). And I can’t do anything to help the cause. However, having been in the situation and having been involved in a labour dispute before…I do understand the anger. However, the anger shuld be directed at the right people. Middle managers have no control over the current situation..the only difference between them and you at this very moment is a paycheck. Lashing out at the Middle Managers is not going to help one bit and is misguided. And if you can’t rationalize that to me it shows signs of someone who is a tad unstable.

    Did not mean to offend..my apologies.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted September 28, 2005 at 6:49 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Dear Middle Manager in the last post. I’ve got news for ya. If you think the guy who was just ranting needs therapy, then I suggest you’re gonna need group therapy for 5,500 people. THAT little display of anger was nothing compared to what you’re gonna get when we get back (we all show it in different ways, some will be more subltle than others). Now, I personally don’t blame middle managers for all this. But the truth is you’ll be left holding the bag. The anger is real, it’s throughout the workers and you, my friend have a real problem on your hands. Here’s a hint: snapping back might not be your best strategy. It only makes people resent the fact that a) no middle managers have taken a stand and b) only ONE has been decent to contribute his overtime/bonus windfall to the hardship fund.
    If you want the attack on middle management to stop, then do something to deserve it. Have the same kind of fortitude the rest of us have had and stand up to Rabinovitch et al (they’re all done anyway). Stop whining about being painted with the same brush. After all, this corporation has done precisely that to us. We are all out on the streets with no real income, you are getting full pay (plus bonuses if you’re lucky). No one is making the distinction about who deserves this and who doesn’t. The truth is that none of us do. And you should be ashamed of yourself for worrying about yourself at a time like this. Trust me, there are 5,500 people who have a lot more to worry about than a few barbs being thrown at them.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted September 28, 2005 at 6:32 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Dear Anonymous,

    “I have been working at the CBC for about twelve years now; I’ve risen through the ranks to become somewhat respected in my field and been awarded (by middle management) with unofficial positions “

    ..twelve years..you say..and YOU are respected in your field! I must admit, after reading your post, I am not buying it. Has it ever crossed your mind that maybe you have been rewarded with unofficial positions because you are not good enough for anything else. You probably thrive in the task you have been assigned, but, I am sure there isn’t much room for growth. And don’t kid yourself your Manager recognizes this and has developed a creative way to deal with an employee like you..offering you unassuming tokens of responsibility?

    “Middle managers DELEGATE. That’s what they do. They delgate all day long, and then they go home. They risk nothing, they are not the least bit creative, and they have no fire under their ass to achieve anything other than the status quo”

    First off, the fact that they are Managers has already demonstrated their desire to achieve something more than the status quo.

    Also if you have one ounce of intelligence you know that you can’t label a whole group of people with such a statement. Hey, did you know there are CMG members who fit the exact description you quoted.

    “They risk nothing, they are not the least bit creative, and they have no fire under their ass to achieve anything other than the status quo”

    And if I was a betting man, I would bet the house, that it describes more CMG Members than it does Middle Managers.

    So now go away you pathetic Angry little person. Go get some thereapy and God help the manager that has to deal with you when this over. It sure will take a fair bit of creativity to motivate you again.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted September 28, 2005 at 5:51 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’d like to respond to the middle manager who wrote earlier about being just as mad a Rabinovitch as we are. I feel a rant coming on.

    I have been working at the CBC for about twelve years now; I’ve risen through the ranks to become somewhat respected in my field and been awarded (by middle management) with unofficial positions which suggest authority but in reality posses none. I am a ‘gettin’ it done kind of person. It seems to suit my demeanor, but ‘gettin’ it done’ rarely actually GETS done. The reason? Too many Goddamn managers, each more often than not saying and doing things which are contrary to each other.

    Middle managers DELEGATE. That’s what they do. They delgate all day long, and then they go home. They risk nothing, they are not the least bit creative, and they have no fire under their ass to achieve anything other than the status quo. Maintaining the status quo is what they are all about. If something comes along which calls the staus quo into question, they must quash it immediately… otherwise their day becomes infinitely more complicated.

    They are, for the most part, incredibly afraid of those who manage THEM. Those managers who are ‘one level up’ are even more removed from the real-life experience of doing the work that needs to get done… but the middle guys just pass along the messages and… delegate. Doesn’t matter if the directives make no sense, or if we are doing things
    ass-backwards (as we usually do).

    Essentially, the middle manager makes sure the budgets are all spent every
    year, gets those time cards in on time, etc. No vision is required… although it would certainly help. Something tells me, though… that the folks who hire them want the very same thing; an easy working life.

    In the end, it’s a cushy job, in a cushy place. Government funded, insulated (at least in dreams) from the travails of the private sector, just steps away from the GO train. And let’s face it… there are a lot of CMG jobs like this as well.

    The CBC is a funnel of money; so incredibly
    inefficient that the public would be OUTRAGED if they actually saw what REALLY went on in that place.

    So tell me, you middle managers out there who are just as pissed off as we are… What are you going to do about it? I’ll tell you what…

    NOTHING. That’s what you will do about it. Because essentially EVERYONE in this debate wants the gravy train to continue; we have mortgages and kids, expenses and all the rest of it.

    and by the way, Anonymous manager… You’re busy now; well… so what! It looks good on ya. Delegate THAT! Ahh, but you will, won’t you… once we get back.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted September 27, 2005 at 7:11 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    c’mon now she’s probably up-to-her-ears with grammar duty — and i hear there’s possibly two people locked inside that haven’t been subjected to the *News Study*– so there’s THAT whole thing to organize too.

  9. Anonymous
    Posted September 27, 2005 at 6:00 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Oh it’s definitely Esther Enkin .. and believe me you don’t want her for President. I doubt very much she is not doing struck work out of sympathy with CMGers.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted September 27, 2005 at 5:40 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Esther Enkin????

  11. Anonymous
    Posted September 27, 2005 at 4:53 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    ok, i’ll bite. who is EE?? And is there any possibility EE hasn’t lifted a finger because he or she didn’t want to do struck work. If so, EE for President.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted September 27, 2005 at 2:53 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Finally, a little anger from an insider. Welcome to the club. And anything we can do to help you with your mission of ridding the place of bad managers? You know where to find us.

  13. Anonymous
    Posted September 27, 2005 at 1:50 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Many of us middle managers and line managers “inside” are just as angry at Rabinovitch as you are. And when this is over, Jane will have just as much trouble with the DOR’s as she will with the CMG members. We’re fed up with her and her team -especially the ones who haven’t lifted a finger in 7 weeks, such as EE, while the rest of us are working like dogs.

  14. Justin Beach
    Posted September 26, 2005 at 6:20 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    This is only vaguely related, but assuming that one way or another this ends someday – the larger challenge is still ahead: Not only saving the sinking ship but emerging with a better ship than before.
    To that end I’ve created a discussion group dedicated to the peace, rather than the war.

    Anyone who is interested in honest discussion about a better, smarter, stronger CBC is welcome.

  15. Anonymous
    Posted September 26, 2005 at 3:18 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Fontana smacks the CBC and the union (though I’m told when the speaking notes were complete, he turned on management)

    Monday September 26, 2005

    The Minister of Labour and Housing commented following his meeting with both parties:
    “Both parties have demonstrated a willingness to resolve this dispute. They have agreed, at my invitation, to remain in the building and resume negotiations on the remaining issues with the assistance of our mediator and the Director General of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, Labour Program. I will be meeting jointly with the parties later today to get a status of their talks.”


    Minister Fontana Speaking Notes

    Thank you for accepting my invitation to meet today to discuss the status of your negotiations and to attempt to develop a plan to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion without further delay.

    I very much hope that everyone here today has the same goal – and that is, to obtain a collectively bargained resolution of this dispute and a return to normal broadcast operations at CBC as quickly as possible. If there is anyone here present who does not have that objective, then I would ask that that person identify themselves right now.

    Mediation talks have now dragged on for over a month. I am very concerned about the length of time it is taking to deal with the issues in dispute, and want to hear from you as to why a settlement is taking so long.

    I simply cannot comprehend why people as talented and skilled as the members of these two bargaining committees cannot come up with creative ideas to resolve the issues at the heart of this dispute. But since this appears to be the case, I am asking those who make the decisions and set the mandate to turn their minds to finding the solutions that seem to be evading the committees.

    It is trite to say that the CBC is a Canadian icon. You all know that. But having said that, as representatives of the CBC and the CMG respectively, you all have a responsibility to the Canadian public to resolve your remaining differences and resume normal broadcast operations. Both parties to this dispute are doing a major disservice to themselves and to all Canadians by failing to find the means to resolve the remaining issues.

    Fifty-five hundred people have now been on the street for forty-three days and Canadians have been deprived of the service to which they are entitled, because your committees can’t reach a compromise. This is simply unacceptable. You all need to keep in mind that the CBC is a public institution, not the private playground of the union and management.

    I have received an extraordinary number of complaints from Canadians expressing their frustration with this dispute, and I know that my Cabinet colleagues have also been inundated with complaints. I think it is also fair to say that the Canadian public and its elected representatives are fed up with the detrimental impact your dispute is having on the operations of the CBC. Canadians are starting to question the need for a public broadcaster.

    Clearly, it is time to settle this dispute, in the interest of all Canadians, and the CBC itself. Both sides need to take a hard look at their current positions and reconsider whether maintaining that position is likely to lead to a positive outcome. I am asking you, after this length of time, is that you need to look for another approach.

    I am asking each of you for a plan that could realistically be expected to bring your negotiations to a successful conclusion in the shortest possible timeframe.

  16. Anonymous
    Posted September 26, 2005 at 3:06 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Don’t be naive that Joe Fontana is a no-name politician. He’s a Paul Martin cabinet minister. Martin is pulling the strings, Fontana is the public face of it. That’s the way cabinet works. Fontana and others are only doing Paul Martin’s bidding. There have been a string of cabinet ministers publicly weighing in. They only do that with PMO direction.

    And Ouimet, you’ll be thrilled to know that when the rally in Ottawa chanted, “Fire Rabinovitch, fire Rabinovitch.”, Heritage Minister Liza Frulla said, “That’s something we’ll deal with afterward.”

    Frulla is well known to have opposed Rabinovitch’s second term and I will bet you a week’s lockout pay, his head will be on a platter by Christmas. Probably Stursberg too, though I’m less confident the evil George will be canned. He may (we can hope) quit after the other two go down.

    And for those wondering if today’s use of a “scab” QP feed by the CBC means Ottawa is setting up hard picket lines at the GG installation tomorrow, the answer is YES. Unless there is some kind of negotiated resolution of this tonight, the installation will be shut down. And crews from all networks will walk off the job if the CBC gives another empty promise and tries to air it anyway.

  17. Anonymous
    Posted September 26, 2005 at 2:48 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    by the way where’s dickie these days…with the article in the star..and all the goings on in Ottawa i guess he’s home sharpening his sword… bobby ran away from the table….guess he has to set up his “who do we blame list”..i’d say dicks at the top…so long dick it’s not been good to know ya.

  18. Anonymous
    Posted September 26, 2005 at 1:20 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The dancing around the table has gone on long enough.Its time for somebody like Joey to finish this lockout with a knockout.

  19. Anonymous
    Posted September 26, 2005 at 10:48 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    this is going to get done. it’s a confluence of events. liberal cabinent ministers being outspoken critics of the lockout in the past few days and management in particular, after weeks of silence…..this is no accident.
    keeping both parties in hull to negotiate with the head of the feds mediation services..oh yeah, this is coming to a close. fontana, calling the lockout “unacceptable” is a clear signal. politicians are very careful about their language. he would have used “unfortunate” or something in that vein if he was just trying to look like he cared.
    his language…from the initial statement about both sides being “unwilling or unable” to reach a deal and demanding a swift resolution..to his latest statement is a pretty clear signal, this thing is wrapping up.
    this doesn’t mean the guild will get everything it wants…it means both sides are actually going to have to make the necessary compromises to get the deal done.

  20. Anonymous
    Posted September 26, 2005 at 9:21 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Of course Joe Fontana can’t fix the lockout – but anyone with a periwinkle of common sense knows that little Joe didn’t come up with this “summons” idea by himself. This is being done with the approval and probably at the instigtion of the PMO. Paul Martin wants this fixed, and he’s using Fontana as his proxy so as to keep his hands clear. Everyone at the negotiating table knows that. The only people with any desperate interest in trying to downplay its significance are CBC managers who can’t yet admit that the fight is almost over, the battle almost lost – and their own futures insecure. Are you hearing the winds of change blowing? Does the bell toll for thee?

  21. Anonymous
    Posted September 26, 2005 at 8:54 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Speaking of “White Knights”, Pary has done a great photoshop job of presenting Fontana as white knight over on his blog…

  22. Laurence
    Posted September 26, 2005 at 8:17 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    On the face of it, I believe that your assessment of Fontana to be correct…but..should either party require a non-partisan face-saving pawn…he has stood up to be counted.
    Many an interesting reaction has been initiated by a harmless catalyst.
    I remain hopeful.

  23. Anonymous
    Posted September 26, 2005 at 8:02 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Well said, Ouimet. I think people are grasping at any flotsam they can find right now that looks like it’s gonna save us.

    While Fontana’s involvement isn’t bad news, it’s not the white knight phenomenon some are hoping for. It may kickstart some concessions from either side, but the deal will be done at the bargaining table.

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