Tonight CBC’s the fifth estate will air an hour-long investigative documentary, titled The Unmaking of Jian Ghomeshi. I participated in this report. I gave the CBC information and documentation from my independent investigation and from my work with Kevin Donovan. I reached out to some of my sources on the CBC’s behalf and asked if they would be interested in participating as well. I gave the CBC extensive interviews, both on and off camera.
This may strike some as an odd choice.
After all, I’ve been highly critical of the CBC’s internal Ghomeshi investigation, which is currently being conducted by lawyer Janice Rubin. I felt that in that instance, the very idea that the CBC could be expected to do an honest job of investigating itself was a joke. So why have I now participated with a CBC news investigation?
It wasn’t for money. This was a different kind of partnership than my work with the Toronto Star; I volunteered my time and efforts to the fifth estate and officially I am simply a source in their report. It wasn’t for attention; I’ve turned down every request for a TV appearance about the Ghomeshi case before this one.
I helped the CBC (or more specifically, I helped some of the CBC’s last remaining investigative reporters) because they are in a unique position to find and report the truth about CBC management’s role in the Ghomeshi case. Since parting company with the Toronto Star, my own investigation has focused directly on CBC management. I have learned and reported some information on this, but my access to the highest levels of the organization is very limited, and my requests for comment are met with curt denials when they are answered at all.
The fifth estate‘s Gillian Findlay, her executive producer Jim Williamson, and senior producer Julian Sher promised me that they too were specifically interested in investigating CBC management. They have assured me that they have both the will and the license to hold their own bosses to account, even if it means implicating people they have personal friendships with. And they have institutional knowledge and access that I do not.
I chose to trust them.
The worst case scenario is that the fifth estate‘s report will be like the two CBC interviews executive Heather Conway requested and received in the early days of this story: a carefully managed attempt to provide the appearance of accountability with none of the substance. If I’ve helped the CBC fool its audience into thinking the broadcaster has properly dealt with this and we can all move on, I apologize in advance.
How will we know?
There will be many indications. In their advance hype for tonight’s episode, the fifth estate has promised “numerous revelations”. Perhaps some of these will concern the instances in which management was directly exposed to Jian Ghomeshi’s inappropriate behaviour. After all, Ghomeshi’s activities were not constrained to his staff. He rode in elevators with management and rubbed elbows with top executives at galas and fundraisers in Toronto and Ottawa. Ghomeshi was a fixture at these parties, where he was known as as a brazen operator. Is it credible that no CBC executive saw anything firsthand? Were they ever told about an incident after the fact? Perhaps we will learn something tonight.
Ultimately, there is one way we will know for sure if the fifth estate is for real. It has nothing to do with hints, warnings or red-flags that CBC executives might have heeded before anyone knew about the severity of Ghomeshi’s actions- it has to do with the direct behaviour of management at the highest levels, once they knew the truth.
In his infamous Facebook post, since deleted (possibly as a condition of his settlement with the CBC,) Jian Ghomeshi wrote:
“I was given the choice to walk away quietly and to publicly suggest that this was my decision.”
If true, this offer to deceive the public and cover up crimes would have been made to Ghomeshi by CBC executives after he showed them photo evidence that he had brutalized a woman. It’s possible that Ghomeshi was lying about this. But it’s unlikely: if such an offer was made, lawyers on both sides would have been present.
So: was this offer made by CBC management? If so, by who exactly?
For the fifth estate‘s investigation to be credible and legitimate, their report must at the very least pose these questions.
And that’s how we’ll know.
Finally, there is another reason why I helped the CBC. It’s an idealistic one from a recovering public broadcaster, a small hope that the many responsible and principled journalists still within the CBC might reclaim the place from those who have driven it into the ground in every conceivable way.
The only way the CBC can present itself to Canadians as an organization that is still in the business of telling the truth is by cleaning up its own damn mess.
I really hope they do.
In walking back its ban last week of retiring journalist Linden MacIntyre, the CBC presented the public with an official version of events which describe the decision to punish MacIntyre as a “heat of the moment” mistake by one CBC manager, Jennifer Harwood.
CANADALAND has learned that this is not true.
The fix is in.
Information released today by Chuck Thompson, CBC’s Head of Public Affairs, reveals the broadcaster’s impending 3rd party investigation of the Ghomeshi scandal to be a pre-determined cover-up and whitewash.
Lawyer Janice Rubin’s report will never be released to the public. What’s more, the CBC now admits that Rubin has been contracted only to investigate past and present employees of Ghomeshi’s shows, Q and Play. Rubin has no powers to demand answers, and no mission to learn who knew what and when. Participation in the investigation seems to be entirely voluntary.
Most strikingly, Rubin has no mandate to look into CBC management’s role in the Ghomeshi affair whatsoever.
Yet management is already implicated. Here is what we know so far:
1. in 2010, a Q producer complained about Ghomeshi to a union representative, who took her complaint to Q Executive Producer Arif Noorani and to Kim Orchard, then the CBC’s Director of Arts and Entertainment. The producer says she is absolutely certain she included her allegations that Ghomeshi told her he wanted to “hate fuck” and “grudge fuck” her, and that he touched her inappropriately. She chose not to file a formal grievance, as doing so would mean facing Ghomeshi directly with her accusations, which she felt certain he would simply deny. This meant no paper trail was created.
Arif Noorani said to CANADALAND that when the union rep approached him with his employee’s complaint, “sexual harrassment” was not mentioned.
When asked if “abuse” of any kind was mentioned, Noorani did not respond.
Kim Orchard, now retired, also denied to CANADALAND that “sexual harrassment” was mentioned.
When asked if “abuse” of any kind was, she said “no”.
2. As reported in the Globe and Mail today, 6 members of the Q team met with Linda Groen, CBC’s Director of Network Talk, in July 2012 to complain en masse about Ghomeshi’s behaviour. Though sexual harrassment was not mentioned, the team reportedly described to management a culture of fear and manipulation created by Ghomeshi and tolerated and enabled by the CBC. The Globe writes that the Q staff had to meet away from the CBC’s offices so as to escape Ghomeshi’s awareness. Management’s failure to act on these drastic warnings will evidently not be examined by Janice Rubin.
3. In his infamous Facebook posted self-defence, Ghomeshi claimed that CBC management gave him the option to misrepresent to the public the reasons for his departure.
“I was given the choice to walk away quietly and to publicly suggest that this was my decision,” he wrote.
Unless Ghomeshi is lying about this (and the CBC has not denied it) the broadcaster was willing to conspire with Ghomeshi to hide from the public the true reason for his dismissal: that he showed them evidence that he had injured a woman.
There is evidence to suggest the CBC was keeping open the option to do just that:
At 3:58pm on October 24th, I tweeted what I had learned from a source that the CBC had put Ghomeshi on “indefinite leave,” CBC-speak for “fired”.
8 minutes later, CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson tweeted a direct denial: “Jian Ghomeshi is not on indefinite leave from the CBC”.
by 5:30pm, the CBC had put word out through the Canadian Press that Ghomeshi was on “indeterminate leave”.
The semantic shuffle is curious. If the CBC simply fired Ghomeshi, why dispute the term “indefinite leave”? Better yet, why not just say that he had in fact been fired?
The answer may have been that as it was two days before Kevin Donovan and I published our expose on The Toronto Star’s website, the CBC’s brass were still hopeful that the truth might never come to light.
If that’s the case, we may never know.
Here is the new release from Chuck Thompson:
From: Chuck Thompson Sent: November 6, 2014 Subject: Terms of reference for Janice Rubin Mandate
Janice Rubin will be engaged by CBC/Radio Canada to carry out the following mandate:
(a) Current and former CBC/Radio Canada employees who worked on the “Q” or “Play” programs during the period in which Jian Ghomeshi hosted these programs and who have complaints, concerns or experiences they wish to share regarding harassment, discrimination, violence or other inappropriate workplace conduct during their work on these programs will be directed to contact Janice Rubin.
(b) Janice will make available to such employees an accessible and secure telephone number (with sufficient voicemail capacity) and email address through which they can contact her directly and she will acknowledge receipt of each message sent to her as soon after receipt as is reasonably possible
(c) Janice will arrange to meet each employee as soon as possible. Some employees may only wish to discuss with her their concerns or experiences without any further action being taken. However, if any employee has a specific complaint that they wish to have investigated, she will do so in accordance with applicable CBC/Radio Canada policies. Janice will gather all of the material facts, including the identity of all individuals involved, the specific conduct complained of and the date(s) and time(s) on which such conduct occurred.
(d) Janice will conduct all of your meetings as confidentially as possible. CBC/Radio Canada will fully co-operate with Ms. Rubin in completing her mandate and will ensure that she has access to any CBC/Radio Canada personnel to whom she may require access, and any CBC/Radio Canada documents to which she may require access, in the course of completing her mandate.
(e) Following the completion of her investigation, she will prepare and deliver to CBC/Radio Canada’s Vice President, People & Culture, or other individuals designated by CBC/Radio Canada, a final written report which sets out:
(i) A summary of the complaints, concerns or experiences shared by her, maintaining confidentiality to the extent possible;
(ii) Ms. Rubin’s findings to the extent you are able to make them with respect to each specific complaint that you are asked to investigate; and
(iii) Ms. Rubin’s recommendations as to any steps CBC/Radio Canada should take to resolve the complaints, concerns and experiences shared with her and to prevent similar issues from arising in the future, including any recommended changes to CBC/Radio Canada’s policies and procedures related to harassment, discrimination, respect in the workplace and workplace violence and the investigation of these issues.
(f) Following delivery of Ms. Rubin’s report to CBC/Radio Canada, she will meet with CBC/Radio Canada to discuss the same.
(g) The scope of your mandate may also be amended by agreement.
Chuck Thompson Head of Public Affairs CBC English Services
CANADALAND has learned that last year the CBC acquired NSA documents describing a major CSEC surveillance program, but the public broadcaster has been sitting on this news for over nine months, with no immediate plans to publish.
Mary Rogan’s cover story in this month’s Toronto Life promises to deliver “the untold story of the cop who pulled the trigger” in the shooting of Sammy Yatim.
Indeed, a detailed biography of police officer and accused murderer James Forcillo is presented, with his childhood, his stylish wife, his years of service and his “shy, quiet” personality all described. A photo of Forcillo pushing his baby daughter in a swing is included. But before that, Rogan provides a quick account of Sammy Yatim’s last moments unlike any other that has appeared in the press to date.
A “good shoot”?
According to Rogan, Sammy Yatim tried to slash a woman’s throat shortly before he was shot to death by Const. James Forcillo. He also lunged at a streetcar driver with his blade, she writes, and could have reached Forcillo “in one leap” had the officer not shot him. What’s more, if Forcillo had allowed Yatim to exit the streetcar, innocent bystanders would have been in the line of police gunfire, and so Forcillo’s actions, Rogan’s piece suggests, were consistent with his training.
“That’s absurd,” says lawyer Peter Rosenthal, who has represented the families of people killed by police, and who has followed the Yatim case closely. “The video speaks for itself and speaks very loudly. Yatim wasn’t exiting the streetcar. We can see that he was not in a position to harm anyone. His killing can’t be described as anything but a methodical execution.”
Rosenthal also takes issue with Rogan’s explanation of the “21-foot rule,” an aspect of police training that defines a danger zone between an officer and an armed suspect within which lethal force might be justifiable.“ Forcillo stood roughly 12 feet from the streetcar door, writes Rogan, with Yatim not far behind it, placing the teen well within the danger zone.
“But (the 21 foot rule) only applies if the officer’s gun is in its holster,” says Rosenthal. “She doesn’t mention that.” Forcillo’s gun was of course drawn, and aimed directly at Yatim throughout the standoff.
Peter Rosenthal isn’t the only one challenging the Toronto Life story.
An Uncanny Resemblance
CANADALAND has spoken to reporters assigned to the Yatim story who say that Mary Rogan’s account of events is indistinguishable from defense statements made by Const. James Forcillo’s lawyer. Due to a publication ban on evidence and testimony from the trial, these reporters have chosen to withhold their names.
At Forcillo’s preliminary hearing, his lawyer Peter Brauti made an opening statement that bears “an uncanny resemblance” to the account found in Rogan’s article, says a reporter who was present in the courtroom. Another reporter wonders if Rogan, who was not present at the preliminary hearing, may have skirted the publication ban if Brauti presented his version of events to Rogan outside of the courtroom. Rogan did indeed interview Brauti for the piece, but she writes that he couldn’t discuss specifics of Forcillo’s case. Nevertheless, Rogan confirms to CANADALAND that Brauti was present whenever she interviewed Irina Forcillo, the wife of the accused officer.
Irina Forcillo, unlike her accused husband, is not prohibited from speaking to the press about the case. But for months, she declined every interview request. She broke her silence for Mary Rogan, assumedly with the blessing of her husband and of Peter Brauti. CANADALAND asked Mary Rogan why Irina Forcillo would speak to her and no-one else.
“I’m not sure,” Rogan answered. “It’s a question I’ve been asked many times before regarding other pieces. Who knows why people ever decide to talk?”
Rogan says that no terms were placed on the interview by Forcillo or Brauti. She stands by her story, saying she is “confident that what I’ve written in my piece is accurate and was thoroughly fact-checked.” Toronto Life editor Sarah Fulford (FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a former Toronto Life columnist and a friend of Fulford’s) also supports the story. “I can say with confidence that Mary’s description of what happened on that streetcar is correct,” she writes. “Her sources are good”.
But who are these sources? Where did Rogan get her information from, if not from Forcillo and/or Brauti? Was her detailed account based on video evidence the public has not yet seen? One reporter who has viewed unreleased footage says that it does not confirm Rogan’s account. “It’s unclear what’s going on (in the tape)” says CANADALAND’s source.
An authoritative account?
CANADALAND asked Mary Rogan how she could be so sure that Yatim did what she says he did. None of the eyewitness accounts quoted in the press to date seem consistent with her telling. One witness on the streetcar, Aaron Li-Hill, told the Toronto Star that Yatim was moving too slowly to seem like a real threat. Did Rogan speak to other eyewitnesses who felt otherwise? Or did she rely on police officers and their lawyers for her information?
“I am not prepared to reveal sources,” writes Rogan, who declined to answer the majority of CANADALAND’s questions.
The other side
One source Rogan certainly did not rely on is Julian Falconer, the lawyer representing the Yatim family in their civil suit. If he, or the Yatims, have a different version of events, it is not included in the Toronto Life piece. In fact, Rogan never interviewed Falconer.
CANADALAND reached Julian Falconer by phone. He wouldn’t comment directly on the Toronto Life story or the case, but he did say this:
“In cases like this, there are real incentives to provide narratives and counter-narratives. I’d rather deal with solid evidence in court”.
Here is Mary Rogan’s response to CANADALAND’s questions:
Did you approach Irina Forcillo directly, or was your access to her arranged through a lawyer?
Peter Brauti was present for my interviews with Irina to ensure the publication ban was not violated.
Irina has turned down every other media request, I believe. Why did she talk to you?
I’m not sure Jesse. It’s a question I’ve been asked many times before regarding other pieces. Who knows why people ever decide to talk?
Were any terms discussed/agreed to, with Irina or Peter Brauti?
On to the piece itself…
Most of the questions that follow from here can be answered yourself, with research, or were gathered from various sources, fact checked and I’m not prepared to reveal those sources.
You write: “Yatim had a stiletto switchblade and had tried to slash the woman’s throat.” This is a major new piece of information in this story, which I believe has not been previously reported.
Can you provide any context at all on how you know this?
Were you present for the opening statements of the preliminary trial?
I did not attend the preliminary hearing
Did you see the TTC surveillance tape?
Did you speak to any of the firsthand witnesses?
Are you confident that this is fact, that Yatim’s intent was to slash her throat, or is that an interpretation of his intent?
Why was he unable to make contact?
This Toronto Star story quoted a man on the streetcar who didn’t feel Yatim was a threat. Did you talk to this witness, or other streetcar passengers who felt differently?
You write: “The driver bolted just as Yatim lunged at him with the knife.” Who was your source on this? Did you speak to the driver?
Is there any question in your mind as to whether or not Yatim was actually trying to stab the woman and the driver, or just menace and intimidate them?
You write: “Behind Forcillo, passengers were talking about what had just happened on the streetcar”. No crowd is visible directly behind Forcillo and several other officers in the videos. Were they directly behind? How far behind?
You write: “He could have reached Forcillo in one leap.” Is this your interpretation of the physical circumstance, or someone else’s?
You write: “If he jumped out into the crowd with his knife, Forcillo wouldn’t have been able to use his gun without endangering bystanders.” Is this your reasoning/observation, or someone else’s?
You write: “Yatim turned away and stepped back into the interior of the streetcar, then appeared to make a decision.” Appeared that way to whom? What was that decision?
Why is Julian Falconer not quoted in the piece?
Because I didn’t interview him
Is it accurate to describe your piece as James Forcillo’s side of the story?
I’ll let reader’s decide how they want to see this story. For my part, I wanted to push past the predictably polarized interpretation of what happened and create a broader discussion. I hope I’ve done that.
Reporters tell CANADALAND that Toronto Life’s version of he story is indistinguishable from defense statements made by Const. James Forcillo’s lawyer.
The Score is a digital-first, globally popular Canadian media company that’s growing each year. So why did its well-loved feature writing team just get the axe? Former features editor Dustin Parkes explains.
00:00 The Score lays off its feature writing staff (link)
03:13 “I’ll ask you questions and you’ll have to explain it to me like I’m a very slow four year old because with sports, I don’t really know anything.” Jesse
05:38 “We were like, ‘look at these media dinosaurs going out’ and you know what? In two years, we were the dinosaurs.” Parkes
07:15 “In defending my team throughout the last year and a half, I would look at the shares per article. Ours would always be higher, ours would always be more significant. But you know, we cost more money than the average news editor.” Parkes
7:43 “(a news editor) is what used to be called a blogger. They’re the people who are kind of mining for content, mining online, mining Twitter, social media and looking for the breaking stories.” Parkes
8:40 “By the simple metrics, I could see they were generating more page views and a lot more tap throughs on the app, a lot more views online, a lot more shares online overall.” Parkes
10:30 “They found new ways to share on Facebook that were very effective for them and that kind of cut out the need for us as marketers of their product…Facebook recently changed their algorithm for sharing content and they made sharing content for content providers a lot easier. Using hashtags, and made it more like twitter. And that had a profound effect on our traffic numbers.” Parkes
11:53 “They’re selling $2 million per quarter in ads…it’s up 60% from a year ago. And yet when you consider they’re like the number 3 thing in the world in what they’re doing (Chris corrects- they’re currently #7), and they’ve got an audience of 5 or 6 million- in newspaper terms that’s a pittance. And they’re losing $2.7 million every quarter cause their spending over 5 million a quarter. When the numbers are that big…I’m going to make a wild estimate and guess your whole team cost somewhere around half a million dollars a year?” Jesse
“It’s a lot less than that” Parkes
The Star on The Score’s path to profitability (link)
12:30 “They’ve got a 100 people in there (The Score), 30 of them are journalists? So is everyone else a computer programer?” Jesse
12:40 “It’s a modern company in every way” Parkes
“Is that what a modern company is? Is a modern media company a company without journalists?” Jesse
“In a way, it’s starting to shape up this way” Parkes
14:00 “ That which gains the most traction as far as news content goes is the weird stuff, the wacky stuff in sports…What we as the feature writers offer is something a little bit more than that and it’s kind of for the people who have an unhealthy relationship with sports” Parkes
14:49 “(You wrote) an article about the exploitation of young Dominican kids into baseball, that was as good as any magazine journalism I read recently” Jesse (link)
15:26 http://grantland.com/ (Maybe the only sports website I frequent. -Chris)
16:12 The personal blog post Dustin mentions (link)
19:02 “’The market can’t support this type of journalism, we’ve learned this is true’. Actually, you’re talking about specific people called advertisers, who are obsessed with metrics,eyeballs and clicks. They don’t particularly care about the quality of the content, they just want people seeing their ads, and where does the value lie when people ignore display ads?…are we acting like this is the reality of the world when we haven’t educated advertisers and they don’t understand the difference between one kind of click and another?” Jesse
24:15 Some of Dustin’s World Cup coverage (link)
24:50 “To be really honest it’s sports, I mean it’s so meaningless. Like, maybe tabloid journalism is maybe a little bit under it. In the end it’s completely meaningless, it’s at best a distraction.” Parkes
The Score is a digital-first, globally popular Canadian media company that’s growing each year. So why did its well-loved feature writing team just get the axe? Former features editor Dustin Parkes explains.
0:42 The eulogies of MuchMusic (link) (link) (link)
01:50 Greg O’Brien, Editor & publisher of Cartt.ca (link)
03:12 Moses Znaimer (link)
03:28 Peter Nygard (link)
04:58 “…under their CRTC licence, they have to air 12 hours of music videos everyday. They accepted that when they took ownership of the licence. When they bought it from CityTV” – O’Brien. They call it “Beaver hours” (link)
05:21 “They have to play these music videos. It’s in the logs and they have to prove it to the commission that they play this much hours of music videos.” O’Brien
5:46 (CRTC staffers enforce this) but they only act if someone complains… If someone complains that a channel is violating its licence. You know, if Sportsnet starts showing womens programing or if W network starts showing hockey” – O’Brien referring to how a channel could get in trouble if they broke their licence agreement.
Make your complaints here. (link)
06:38 “It was a cash cow for a long time. Same thing for History, nobody else is allowed to launch, in Canada, a history channel because Shaw owns that genre protected licence” – O’Brien
07:32 (other channels can play videos) “…as long as you don’t call it a music video station or don’t play too many.” – O’Brien.
08:15 “If Shaw has a claim on history, I can’t come into the market with a competing History Channel. Does that mean they have to have history programming? Because when I watch the History Channel, I’m not seeing a ton of educational history stuff.” Jesse
Cracked has the best take of the decline of the History Channel (link)
09:22 “Ice Road Truckers is an historical show because we have historically had ice roads.”
10:01 “In return for launching that channel, because our market is so small, the CRTC would say that it’s your channel, you will be the only one that has that channel. And you’ll be able to go to market free of competition.” O’Brein
10:22 “If we had allowed Comedy Central just to come into Canada, we wouldn’t have a comedy network in Canada.” Some say that would be a good thing.
12:00 “Book Television is the example we use to illustrate the problems in the industry” O’Brein. Follow-up story (link)
12:32 “Book Television has half an employee assigned to it.” (link)
13:21 “It makes about $4.5 million a year on subscriptions because their in these big bundles.” O’Brein talking about Book Television (link)
14:27 This hearing (link)
19:08 “Don’t get so carried away. ‘The government could force us to unbundle it, but you’re not going to save a dime.’ If we’re not going to save a dime, why would they be fighting it so doggedly for years? Obviously they’re afraid of something.” -Jesse
20:01 “Rogers will speak at length about the experiment they did in London (Ontario) where they broke up the packages as best they could…and let people buy one at a time, and hardly anybody took them up on the offer.” O’Brein (link)
25:11 “Given the choice, Canadians choose American programming and, like you say, if we just let the American stations come in here (over the Internet)…Canadians will choose that.” Jesse
26:08 “Disney last week signed a deal with Netflix. Netflix will be the exclusive Canadian partner for all of the animated and live action movies for Disney starting in 2015.” O’Brien (link)
26:54 “The Canadian market is really unique when you look around the world. We are right beside the world’s biggest cultural producer, and we’re the same language.” O’Brien
27:25 Nope, “protectionary” isn’t a word (link)
34:34 “There are two things intended by this CanCon production scheme. One is, it created an industry, and it certainly succeeded in doing that. It totally created a Canadian production industry. And the other thing it’s supposed to do is create Canadian culture that’s supposed to be of value to Canadians. I think we can conclude after a pretty good amount of time that it has failed miserably at creating that culture.” Jesse
35:00 The Littlest Hobo is a rad hobo dog solving small-town problems. It was the dark gritty reboot to Lassie we’ve all wanted (link)
35:05 “It is well past the time where the industry can continue to live on renting American programming. If we’re going to a pick and pay world, you’re going to have to give people a reason to pick and pay for you.” O’Brien
35:20 The Beachcombers circa 1975 (link)
40:01 Showmi hype (link)