Belt can be tightened at CBC North

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation marked its 60th anniversary Nov. 2. But it couldn't have been a joyous celebration, what with the spectre of the most Draconian budget cuts in its history looming large.

We in the private media take no comfort from the problems plaguing the CBC. Canada's public broadcaster has made an immeasurable contribution to the country over the last six decades, and nowhere is its role more appreciated than the North.

With a few notable exceptions, private broadcasters have proven incapable or unwilling to set up shop in the North, and for good reason. Only a public broadcaster can afford to service such a vast and lightly populated land.

Indeed, the CBC must be saved. And it should not be allowed to die a death of a thousand cuts. Yet the cuts - in the order of an unprecedented 30 per cent or more - are coming. How then should the corporation proceed?

Executive-level protestations and six years of cost-cutting experience notwithstanding, the corporation remains over-managed. Yellowknife is a good example. CBC has a floor of executive offices downtown along with a three story building two kilometres away. Surely the corporation can make do with one head office - the older studio complex should suffice.

Next to go should be a layer or two of management. Much has been done on this front over the past few years in southern CBC outlets, but up here, much remains undone.

Only then should we take a look at programming. Perhaps the time will come when we will have to choose between television and radio, or tackle a rewrite of its mandate.

But not yet. Not until the fat is gone.(November 04, 1996)

Who wants to know?

Alarm bells should be going off with the news that next spring, ID cards will be issued for the 20,000 beneficiaries of the Nunavut Final Agreement.

There may be good reasons for the cards, such as making it easier for administrators to distribute benefits due the Inuit through the agreement.

However, Marius Tungilik, executive assistant to the second vice-president of NTI, said: "Right now we're trying to identify exactly what it's going to be used for."

Citizens of Nunavut might want to ask the same question.

The federal government already gives Social Insurance Numbers to the users and beneficiaries of Canadian citizenship. Do the residents of Nunavut need a second system of government documentation? Do they want one? How much does a government really need to know about its citizens?

The convenience of bureaucrats shouldn't be a motivating factor. Freedom is more important than the efficiency of government administration.

Let's be clear about how and why Nunavut will be handing out ID cards.(November 04, 1996)