Category Archives: InvestigativeAssignmentFour

Complaints answered by flawed system at Canadian borders

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The Canadian Border Service Agency has received 13 complaints of sexual assaults since January 2003. Photo Credit: Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press
The Canadian Border Service Agency has received 13 complaints of sexual assaults since January 2003. Photo Credit: Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press

Canada’s border agency is fixing flaws in its investigative techniques while racking up sexual assault complaints.

According to data obtained through an access to information request, 13 complaints of sexual assault have been made against employees of the Canada Border Service agency since 2003.

Cases include accusations of border officers sexually assaulting travellers and detainees.

Three of the complaints state charges were laid against border employees.

Under reported crime

Sexual assault is an under reported crime with less than 10 per cent of cases being reported according to Maggie Forsythe, counselling program coordinator at the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre.

Forsythe says she believes under reporting of sexual assaults can “be mapped to any situation” and she says it can be especially hard coming forward with accusations against a powerful figure.

Travellers can be put in a frightening position Forsythe says.

“That would be like being assaulted by a police officer. Someone who has what you would see is the outmost power over you” Forsythe says. “So who would you tell when those people are supposed to be the ones who are supposed to be protecting you?”

A number of reasons cause the under reporting issue Forsythe says, from the victim having difficulty identifying what’s happend to them to the amount of stigma attached to coming forward.

“There’s so many what we call rape myths that would hinder a person coming forward,” says Forsythe, adding these myths include blaming the victim for the attack.

“So if an employee is saying their colleague has been sexually assaulting them or sexually harassing them, people would often say, ‘Oh well you were flirting with them, you probably wanted them,’” says Forsythe

Four of the borders sexual assault complaints are between employees and recruits in the agency.

Sexual assault falls under employee misconduct. Misconduct cases are looked into by the agency.

But a recent internal audit revealed weaknesses in the border agency’s investigations.

Limited tools and formal training

 The 2015 audit on professional standards found a number of problems with how the agency looks into employee misconduct cases.

According to the audit, limited tools and formal training were available for investigators and managers involved in misconduct investigations.

Misconduct allegations also went unreported to the proper authority.

The Security and Professional Standards Directorate wasn’t always informed about misconduct investigations despite the fact it had been a requirement since 2011.

Out of 78 complaints about border officers made in the span of one month in 2014, 14 cases are classified as undetermined.

Undetermined complaints include accusations of an officer assaulting a person, allegedly leaving deep scratch marks on their arm.

“Endured hours of detainment, hand-cuffed, strip-searched, horrific harassment by CBSA armed and loaded officers,” reads another undetermined complaint.

According to Senator Grant Mitchell, travellers with complaints may not see a resolution.

“There has been very very little recourse for people who feel they’ve been mistreated in someway, by the border service,” says Mitchell.

Mitchell served as deputy chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. The committee looked into the need for oversight at Canadian borders.

Lack of Oversight

 Senator Mitchell says border employees have zero oversight.

 “When you can just take away somebody’s rights, incarcerate them, hold them, invade their privacy,” Mitchell says, “There is a potential for abuse.”

 The committee recommended the government establish an oversight body and an independent, civilian review and complaints body for the border agency.

Mitchell says the oversight body would be proactive, ensuring appropriate compliance with legislation and policy and the review and complaints body would be there to support Canadians if an incident occurs at the border.

In June, the government introduced new legislation to create a joint oversight committee to monitor and oversee all government departments and agencies with national security responsibilities.

The Canadian Border Services Agency did not respond to interview requests  

 

 

 

Watch the video below to learn more about the weaknesses in the border agency’s investigative techniques

How the Canadian government failed its “silent service,” leaving them with antiques to defend the nation’s waters

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Like a third of the ships in the Coast Guard's fleet, the CCGS Louis S. St. Laurent is now past its operational life cycle. (Gordon E. Robertson)
Like a third of the ships in the Coast Guard’s fleet, the CCGS Louis S. St. Laurent is now past its operational life cycle. (Gordon E. Robertson)

The agency responsible for the fleet patrolling Canada’s waters has trouble meeting the expectations set out for it by government, often sacrificing “needed” investment in its ships and relying on temporary funding to make ends meet.

According to a briefing book, received under the Access to Information Act, and prepared earlier this year for Hunter Tootoo, former Minister in charge of the department of Fisheries and Oceans, indicates the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is now in dire straits with little hope for an immediate solution.

The Silent Service

Rob Huebert, Associate Director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies and expert in Maritime security, described the CCG as a “silent service” — often asked to do more than anyone would think is reasonable, but always succeeding.

“We’re constantly in this bizarre situation where we completely and utterly rely on them for a whole host of issues,” says Huebert. “But the [restructuring] of the coast guard’s capabilities are not in a happy state.”

In the past 11 years over $7 billion has been committed to renewing the CCG.

But the majority of replacements for the CCG’s larger ships are not expected to arrive until 2025. Until they do, an estimate from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says 83 per cent of the CCG’s budget is required to maintain the agency’s state of readiness.

An Aging Fleet

Even 15 years after retirement, Captain Harvey Adams still fondly remembers his time serving aboard the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, one of the two remaining large icebreakers in the CCG’s fleet. During his 33 year career with the coast guard, he served aboard the ship when it was launched in 1969 and eventually became its captain.

“It was the biggest ship, the most powerful ship probably in North America at the time. Even the American’s couldn’t have matched it,” says Harvey, recalling his first thoughts of the Louis.

But that was 46 years ago, and like 31 per cent of the CCG’s current fleet, the Louis has aged significantly – putting the ship past its expected life cycle.

According to an analysis of documents included in the DFO briefing book, the figure will increase to 54 percent within the next five years.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 1.40.31 PM

Replacement

Some replacements ships are on their way. The replacement for the Louis, the CCG John G. Diefenbaker, will be the first to come off the line. While it was originally expected to arrive next year, construction is not expected to begin until 2022 at the earliest. It’s now scheduled to arrive in 2023.

Huebert says as a result of the National Shipbuilding Strategy – a long-term project to rebuild the nation’s fleet that prioritized providing ships to the Navy – the Louis will likely remain in service until the Diefenbaker arrives.

“When you think of something lasting from ’69 until now most people would go ‘Holy Moly! I wouldn’t be driving a car that is that old,’” says Huebert, “That is unless you’re into antiques.”

The Future

The new Minister for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Dominic LeBlanc, did not respond to a request for comment.

But with the mandate letter for the Minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans indicating a commitment to the National Shipbuilding Strategy, it appears the CCG is stuck on its current course.

For men like Adams, who spent most of their lives on the deck of a vessel it isn’t about the age of the ships they crew, or when new ones will arrive. It’s about the life he built on the water.

“The Coast Guard is one of the best jobs going to sea in Canada,” he says. “I have so many good memories it’s hard to remember just one.

Dancing for pennies

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Dancers of Mocean gather to study choreography during rehearsals. Photo: Mikkel Frederiksen
Dancers of Mocean gather to study choreography during rehearsals. Photo: Mikkel Frederiksen

If dance as an art form is to grow in Nova Scotia, more funding and a dedicated performance space is needed, says Sara Coffin, director of Mocean Dance.

Last year, grants from the Canada Council for the Arts to dance organizations in the province were slightly more than $180,000. A drop of $40,000 from the year previous, and testimony to struggle of the dance community to gain steady financial ground in the province.

“As an individual you have to be able to cut it right away if you don’t get the money, because it’s just impossible, and it’s way too much of a risk to put yourself in that much debt,” says Coffin. Even for smaller companies, funding is crucial. “It means shortening the season, or working for free. It means you have to be very adaptable, and look for other ways to raise money.”

Dance in the province, and the Maritimes as a whole, remains a minor figure in the arts landscape. Last year, the sum of awards given to dance organizations in Nova Scotia was the smallest among the major art disciplines.

That isn’t the case elsewhere in Canada. Held up against other provinces, one sees the contrast. Alberta receives more than double of the entire Atlantic region combined.

Applications for grants are evaluated by a jury of peers familiar with the community. A system meant to ensure artistic merit remains the priority. However, this can also mean grants are reserved for a select few.

“The companies that are sucking the money dry are the big ballet companies, so all the money is being funneled into Ontario and Quebec,” says Coffin. “They’re institutions, and they’re important, but then there’s only so much to go around, and then it’s harder for the new surge of energy or blood to come up.”

The numbers reflect the artistic hierarchy.  Last year, more than two-thirds of the grant money to organizations went to Ontario and Quebec.  

If other provinces are to establish dance communities of their own, more money needs to find its way there, says Coffin.

“They’re definitely propping up city centers instead of helping new areas develop,” she says. A major milestone for the province would be a venue for dance artists to call their own – a dedicated space for rehearsal and performance. “That’s where we need support, because we’re all rehearsing in our living rooms and these weird spaces we can find that are cheap. There is no center here for us to work in.”  

But changes are coming.

Starting in 2017, the Council will change its grant programs. Instead of 147 discipline-based programs, the new model will instead have only six, each with its own nationwide mandate, be it nurturing aboriginal artistry or supporting artists abroad.

In an email, Council spokeswoman Meredith Sharpe explained that “so many of the restrictions that have been in place for years will change and the funding model will truly become artist-centered.”

Should the changes mean more money flowing into the province, it would come at an opportune time, says Coffin, because there’s a growing pool of talent in Halifax. 

“For the first time we have three generations of dancers working in Halifax,” Coffin says. However, lack of funding will hamper the next generation’s growth. “There’s not enough money being sent here, so they’re usually excluded first, so they have a longer time get their momentum going.”

‘We need to look at how the police investigate these cases,’ – Denise Mitchell of Mi’kmaq Friendship Centre

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Denise One Breath Mitchell has worked with several families of victims. She doesn’t believe the missing persons database is reliable in the first place.
Denise One Breath Mitchell has worked with several families of victims. She doesn’t believe the missing persons database is reliable in the first place.

Last week, government released the inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). It focuses on the number of MMIW, perpetrator characteristics, outstanding cases and victim circumstances. However, Denise One Breath Mitchell doesn’t believe the missing persons database is reliable in the first place.

Mitchell is the Victim Support Navigator at the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre and has worked with several families of victims, including the family of Tanya Brooks, an aboriginal woman who was murdered in 2009. She believes there are more missing women than the 1,181 reported by the RCMP and says the attitude of police when missing aboriginal persons are reported is a factor.

“They [police] have an attitude or an opinion, especially if they’re working the sex

A dream catcher made in the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre by members of the Aboriginal community. Each feather represents a missing and/or murdered Aboriginal woman. Mitchell says more feathers shall be added in the near future.
A dream catcher made in the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre by members of the Aboriginal community. Each feather represents a missing and/or murdered Aboriginal woman. Mitchell says more feathers shall be added in the near future.

trade, or they say ‘they’ll come back’,” said Mitchell. “We need to look at how the police investigate these cases and if the police took them seriously.”

Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), has also worked with families of victims. She says another problem is there are inconsistencies on whom to report a missing person to.

“The police forces will turn them [families] back and say ‘no, you go to your own police force and report it to them’ or our local police force would say ‘well she got missing in Toronto, you need to report it to Toronto’,” said Lavell-Harvard. “There is no standard of practice, there’s no protocol.”

The missing persons database is a national public website called Canadasmissing.ca. It contains information about missing aboriginal and non-aboriginal individuals as well as unidentified remains. According to the site, cases only appear on the website when the investigator or medical examiner of that case concludes that a profile of the missing person will assist the investigation.

A recommendation in the final report of Provincial Partnership Committee on Missing Persons (2007)

The cases are broken up by province, age, sex and probable cause with categories marking the circumstances of a disappearance; like ‘abduction by stranger’, ‘wandered off’, ‘runaway’ or ‘presumed dead’, to name a few. However, over 300 were not included in the 2015 report as there was ‘no probable cause entered’.

When asked for clarification, the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR) responded via email:

“As for the ones with no, or an invalid, probable cause, they cannot be counted in the existing categories, therefore they were not included… Only the original investigating police service for each of the specific incidents may have that information, and even that is unlikely this long after the fact. It may be that they would fit into one of the categories; we simply don’t have the information.”

Lavell-Harvard is working with the RCMP to improve how reports are taken and investigations are conducted. She’s satisfied with the RCMP’s new policy of taking immediate action when a person is reported missing but says other police forces need to follow suit.

“There’s over 300 other police forces out there across the country so even though the RCMP has this protocol, that doesn’t necessarily translate into effective action, we need that protocol with all the police forces,” said Lavell-Harvard.

According to the Missing Persons Act, any information received by police is considered confidential and cannot be released, even to a spouse or family member, unless the information may assist in the investigation.

Mitchell says keeping families in the dark does more harm than good.

“The family is left carrying these unanswered questions about what happened to their loved one,” she said. “Keeping that rapport and communication open is letting families know that something is being done, that their loved ones matter to them, and that they’re taking this seriously.”

Lavell-Harvard calls for police forces to come together and do their part in the MMIW cases.

“We need to stop allowing indigenous women and children to slip through the crack because of jurisdictional boundaries,” she said. “People need to start putting the whole politics and jurisdiction aside, and recognise that these are human beings.”

Report warns that an “out-of-touch” employment program “risks” leaving First Nation Youth jobless

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An evaluation by a third party consulting firm warned that a federal government employment program is holding Aboriginal youth back from getting jobs.

Goss Gilroy Inc., a consulting firm hired by the department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, “raised concerns” that the department couldn’t assess whether its On-Reserve Income Assistance Program was actually working, according to a March 2015 technical report released under the Access to Information Act.

LINKING PROGRAMS WITH OPPORTUNITIES

The Income Assistance Program was designed to “help youth achieve self-sufficiency and independence” in order to end the “work-welfare cycle.”

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3001189-Indigenous-Affairs-Income-Assistance-on-Reserve/annotations/313547.html

Aboriginals face well-documented obstacles when it comes to securing long-term, sustainable employment.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3001189-Indigenous-Affairs-Income-Assistance-on-Reserve/annotations/313717.html

According to the 2011 National Household survey, unemployment rates for Aboriginals were double those of non-Aboriginals.

Encouragingly, a 2012 report by Aboriginal Affairs predicted that the forecasted increase in jobs could present an “opportunity for First Nations youth to be working.”

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3001189-Indigenous-Affairs-Income-Assistance-on-Reserve/annotations/313582.html

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3001189-Indigenous-Affairs-Income-Assistance-on-Reserve/annotations/313564.html

However, the consulting firm warned that this would only be possible if the employment program was sufficient enough to leave them “able and ready” to enter the job market.

IN THE DARK

In order for Aboriginal Affairs to understand whether the On-reserve Income Assistance Program was actually capable of doing this, the report said the department needed to collect “valid and reliable” information on the program’s progress from the participating reserves, shown below.

Source: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada – Income Assistance Program FAQs

The department requires bands and tribal councils to submit updates every three months through its reporting system.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3001189-Indigenous-Affairs-Income-Assistance-on-Reserve/annotations/313549.html

But the consulting firm found that the information coming in did not clarify that the program was actually able to get First Nations youth the “skills and training” they needed in order to secure long-term jobs.

“ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL” NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Dalhousie University’s Kathleen Kevany, an expert on community development, admits that it’s “tricky” to have standards of measurement “if you’re trying from a government perspective to compare communities.”

“It’s hard to do that because you don’t have the same reports from every place.”

But Curtis Reilly, the employment councillor for PEI’s Lennox Island First Nations, wondered, “how do you put every community and every situation in a box and make it work for everybody?”

Reilly says that the program will need to figure out how to meet the unique needs of every community if it’s going to work .

ALTERNATIVE MEASURES OF SUCCESS

The community shows support to its members through the MCPEI employment Facebook group.
The community shows support to its members through the MCPEI employment Facebook group.

For his reserve, Reilly says he demonstrates success “not so much” through reports – but in the pictures he uploads on the Island’s Employment Services Facebook Group.

 

“A lot of people may see [our achievements] as small successes,” he said, “but a lot of the time they’re big successes.”

From his close vantage point over the years, Reilly has seen “first-hand” what works and what doesn’t – and it’s starting to pay off.

“Nothing is perfect by any means,” he said, recalling the “ups and downs” along the way. “But [by starting small], I think we’re really starting to see that success story now.”

With permission from Mi'Kmaq Confederacy PEI's Employment Services
With permission from Mi’Kmaq Confederacy PEI’s Employment Services

 

Only 66 per cent of people managing First Nation drinking water systems are certified

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More than one third of people managing First Nation drinking water systems aren’t certified by their province.

Circuit Rider Training Program President, Winslow Davis says those managing the water treatment plants on reserve are First Nation members.

He says they are responsible for operating and maintaining the plant, and “ensuring there is safe drinking water being produced.”

According to records released through a Access to Information request, First Nation communities across Canada have “difficulties” certifying and retaining operators.

The briefing note, prepared for the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Carolyn Bennett, states, “in 2014-2015, 66 per cent of First Nation systems had operators certified to the level of their drinking water and 56 per cent for wastewater system.”  

Qualifications

Davis says uncertified doesn’t mean “unqualified.”

“That’s where the Circuit Rider Training Program comes into effect,”  he says.

The Circuit Rider Training Program is a federally funded government program. It gives uncertified people, managing water plants in First Nation communities one-on-one training to help them do their job.

“In most cases they [the trainers] are almost like a mentor,” Davis says.

Certification is needed to have a “standard of acceptance or responsibility” for the water treatment facilities.

“The process is necessary to the profession to help make sure the plant is running properly and the water is safe to drink,” he says.

The certification standards for drinking and wastewater plant managers are set by individual provinces, and require a high school education, or equivalent.

“High rate of turnover of employees”

Davis says every region is different, but there is a “high rate of turnover.”

“Funding is always an issue,” he says. “To pay an operator to stay in the community once they obtain their certification is a challenge because the band doesn’t have enough money to retain them and they can go find work elsewhere.”

The Access to Information records show Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada knows about the challenges of recruiting and retaining water plant managers.

According to the records, there are three barriers to “certifying and retaining operators on reserve:”

  • Community-to-community model: funding full-time staff at a “competitive salary” can be a challenge
  • Education: “Insufficient levels” of grade 12 education prevents certification
  • Water and wastewater policy: past government policy has “favoured” complex systems which require higher certification levels

“It’s not a glamourous job”

Davis says “recruitment is one thing.” Davis says.

“It’s not deemed as a glamourous job,” he says. “It’s not something that somebody would want to grow up being a water plant operator.”

The challenges aren’t over once people are recruited and trained.

“They see the opportunity off reserve to go make more money,” says Davis. “Because they’re paying more, industry is able to attract with higher salaries, and bonuses.”

Numbers improving

The Access to Information records show that the number of certified people running water treatment plants are up from 2011. At that time, 51 per cent of drinking water systems and 42 per cent of wastewater systems were managed by people certified at the necessary level.

Changes in drinking water and wastewater certification from 2011-2015

Source: Certification of Water and Wastewater Systems Operators, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Source: Certification of Water and Wastewater Systems Operators, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Since 2011, an annual performance inspection has been done of water treatment plants on reserves across Canada.

The 2015 inspection says that 84 per cent of drinking water managers and 78 per cent of wastewater managers were in a training program to achieve, maintain, or upgrade skill levels. 

Davis says the Circuit Rider Training Program is one of the best ways to ensure community has safe drinking water, and water treatment plant employees are being trained.

But says more can be done by local governments “to recognize their [water treatment managers] contribution to the safety of their community” by providing safe drinking water.

Calls about unsightly property promote a ‘tattle tale mentality’

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Halifax Regional Municipality received over 2000 calls in 2015 complaining about properties with unkempt lawns and overflowing garbage, but one resident feels that the complaint process is built on a system of “snitching.”

According to records previously released under freedom of information legislation, residents called the city 415,290 times in 2015.

Jim Creelman was the subject of one of those calls.

The reason? His house on Montague Road in Loon Lake.

Creelman’s home was one of the 2442 complaints Haligonians had about unsightly properties last year.

Unsightly property is defined as any building, usually a house, that is partly destroyed, decayed, or deteriorated. The building in question clashes with the character of a neighbourhood or the wellbeing of nearby residents, said Halifax Regional Municipality public affairs officer Adam Richardson.

Watch the video below for an explainer on unsightly property and how the complaint-process works.

The information to make this data visualization was from previously released records under the freedom of information laws. As you can see, the number of calls have mostly been consistent. 

‘Snitch mentality’ at the heart of complaint-driven process

A self-admitted hoarder and owner of a small snow removal business, Creelman says he “collects stuff” and can’t always get around to cleaning it up.

Still, that doesn’t justify the whole process of making a complaint on his home, he says.

First, he says “a rookie officer” who wasn’t flexible with the rules came by to inspect his property. Then, the officer’s supervisor was too involved with his case, something that Creelman says is “not normal.”

Creelman managed to get an extension on clean-up time from the city council committee responsible for granting appeals.

But when he spoke to the committee in September 2015, Creelman did not shy away from discussing his true feelings on calls made about unsightly properties.

“It promotes a snitch mentality,” he said.

Past action, results in the future?

Nancy Lewis, who lives in the North End of Halifax, couldn’t agree more.

In 2009-2010, Lewis started a petition to change the complaint-driven system for inspecting unsightly properties.

She said that her house on North Street has been the subject of calls in the past, but not anymore.

Even though she admits her house needed a paint job, it was still “much better looking” than the rest of the homes on her street that weren’t the subject of complaints at all.

She suspects the calls came from contractors who were painting nearby houses.

Creelman, on the other hand, isn’t sure who made the call since all complaints are anonymous. However, his lawyer suggested he make a freedom of information request to find out.

Lewis thinks it’s a waste of time for bylaw officers to inspect every single complaint that comes their way, especially since they’re mostly frivolous.

She points to the latest issue faced by one of her neighbours as an example.

“She puts one extra garbage bag out and the city is running back and forth,” she said.

Her petition wasn’t much of a success outside her neighbourhood, but it managed to catch the attention of Brenden Sommerhalder, who is running to represent the north end in the upcoming municipal election.

The former director of marketing for the Downtown Business Commission says that complaints about properties can be used as a “civic weapon” by feuding neighbours.

If elected, he says he would like to investigate the issue seriously and assess whether there are suitable alternatives to the complaint-driven process.

For Creelman, the best alternative would be if neighbours simply talked to each other about their concerns instead of going to the city.

That way, he would “feel less harassed.”

But for now, he says he is going to clean up his act — literally.

“I’m out of step with (the city)” he said. “I don’t blame them.”

CBC revamping employee social media guidelines; less restrictive than other broadcasters

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Credit: Mary MacDonald
Credit: Mary MacDonald

The CBC expects to unveil its new social media guidelines for employees in September 2016. It will replace existing guidelines, adopted in 2007, and revised in 2010. The policy regulates employee conduct both on and off the job, while setting out standards of behaviour for employees using social media.




The CBC’s 2007 employee social media guidelines were released following an Access to Information request by an applicant and later made available at its website. In crafting a new policy CBC must tread a path that both upholds its reputation as Canada’s public broadcaster while also respecting its employees’ rights to freedom of expression. Every CBC employee must read and affirm their compliance with the broadcaster’s social media guidelines.

The news and broadcasting industry places a high premium on safeguarding core values of non-partisanship and lack of bias. The credibility of a reputable news organization rests on objective reporting of events. The CBC’s employee social media policy incorporates elements of its other HR codes, including its Employee Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct, which prohibits the publishing of racist or other discriminatory content. In contrast to its competitors in the private sector, the CBC shoulders the burden of protecting the Charter rights of employees when crafting a social media policy. Employees of the broadcaster are required to uphold the corporation’s core values both on the job and in their off-duty time.

Similar restrictions are in place at Reuters, the Associated Press other broadcasters. An important difference between these competitors and CBC is that as a public news and entertainment provider, CBC must adhere to federal statutes, most notably the Charter of Rights. When creating a social media set of guidelines for employees, the CBC must exercise caution in not infringing on certain provisions of the Canadian Charter.

Professor Wayne MacKay is a constitutional expert who teaches law at Dalhousie University. He said the CBC has a higher standard to meet compared to private sector news organizations when employee codes such as a social media policy are drafted. This is reflected in tighter provisions contained in some CBC competitor codes. For example, Reuters and the Associated Press strongly discourage employees ‘liking’ tweets or comments on other individual’s feeds, especially those that contain news reports or contentious material.

Adapted from a survey of twelve media organizations’ employee social media guidelines as depicted in Table 1, page 208 of Managing Social Media Use: Whither Social Media Guidelines in News Organizations by authors Michaël Opgenhaffen & Leen d’Haenens. The International Journal on Media Management, 17:201–216, 2015.

CBC Media Relations manager Alexandra Fortier explains that the CBC has no restriction on such activity. Ms. Fortier refused to comment when asked if a CBC employee had ever challenged the provisions in the existing corporate guidelines, citing privacy. When asked about the CBC’s less restrictive approach to employees ‘liking’ news-related content published on colleague’s Twitter feeds, Professor MacKay noted that a judge in the U.S. recently ruled that ‘liking’ on social media is a form of freedom of speech.

The CBC expects its employees to make a distinction between their official CBC accounts and personal social media platforms. They are asked not to publish anything that they would not feel comfortable saying in a job-related capacity. Despite its vigilance in safeguarding its reputation as a non-partisan news and entertainment provider to Canadians, the broadcaster must balance these priorities with other considerations – to a greater extent than is the case with others in the industry.

The task at hand is to strike a balance between intersecting interests while meeting its mandate to the Canadian public.