Saturday, September 10, 2011

"The House" Apologizes Over an Interview on the Keystone Pipeline

by Larry Powell

This morning,"The House" apologized over an interview done on that CBC Radio program on July 23rd. In the interview, Derek Burney, once Canada's ambassador to the US, sung the praises of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and attacked critics in the environmental movement as "emotional" and even "violent."

In the process of responding to that interview, I discovered Burney is a Director of TransCanadaPipelines, the company building the project. He did not disclose this in the course of the interview.

After complaining twice to the CBC ombudsman, I received an apology from "The House," yesterday, saying it was unaware of Burney's vested interest at the time. It ran this clarification on its program this morning (Sept 10th).

"On July 23rd we aired a conversation with former ambassadors Derek Burney & Gordon Giffin about Canada-US relations. Part of the discussion was about the Keystone XL pipeline project. We failed to inform you that Derek Burney sits on the board of Trans Canada, the company behind the project. We apologize for that."

And below is a copy of the response I received yesterday from the senior producer of "The House" &, in turn, my answer to him.

From: Nick Gamache
To: Earthkeeperfarm@yahoo.caCc: KIRK LAPOINTE
Sent: Friday, September 9, 2011 8:17:10 AMSubject: The House - Response

Dear Mr. Powell,

Thank you for your emails of August 4 and September 9 addressed to Kirk LaPointe, CBC Ombudsman, and for your subsequent enquiries. Since THE HOUSE is my responsibility, I would like to reply. Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in doing so. 

You wrote to draw our attention to the July 23 edition of the program and what you take to be a “serious lack of proper disclosure”. Specifically, you wrote that during an interview, Derek Burney, a former Canadian ambassador to the United States, strongly defended the Keystone XL pipeline, but the program “never revealed” that he has a seat on the board of TransCanada Corporation, the company behind the new pipeline. 

While I certainly regret you are disappointed in CBC, I agree, that information is pertinent and should have been part of the story.

In preparing the story our focus was on Mr. Burney’s knowledge of Canadian relations with the United States and his experience in resolving difficult issues between the two countries, the free trade discussions some years ago among them. We should have known about his close connection with TransCanada, although we did not when we did the interview. Had we known, we would have included the information in the broadcast story. We regret the omission.

However, we will broadcast a clarification on the program this weekend (September 10) reminding our listeners of the story and pointing out that Mr. Burney is on the TransCanada Corporation board of directors. We have also added a note to the same effect immediately below the story on THE HOUSE website.

Of course, this is not the only story we have done on the Keystone XL pipeline. Over the past few months we have looked a number of aspects of this complex issue and heard a range of views, some perhaps closer to yours.

Thank you again for your e-mails and again my apologies for the delay in replying.

It is also my responsibility to inform you that if you are not satisfied with this response, you may wish to submit the matter for review by the CBC Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman, an independent and impartial body reporting directly to the President, is responsible for evaluating program compliance with the CBC's journalistic policies. The Ombudsman may be reached by mail at Box 500, Terminal “A”, Toronto M5W 1E6, or by fax at 416-205-2825, or by e-mail at


Nick Gamache

CBC Radio - Ottawa

The House - Senior Producer

o: 613-288-6915

c: 613-299-6055

Dear Mr. Gamache,

Thank you so much for your detailed response and I am pleased you are running a clarification on your program.

I'll soon be reporting details of the story, along with your response, on my blog,

 I will try to send you a link to it when I get it written.

Your reply renews my faith in the CBC, a former employee of mine for almost 20 years.

I believe the Corporation is a precious part of our national fabric and my concerns were certainly not indicative of my overall regard for its peformance.

Keep up the good work & thank you again!

Larry Powell
Roblin, MB


Anonymous said...

Dottore Trellis Lattice commented on your link.
Dottore wrote: "Good work, Larry."

Anonymous said...

Good job, Larry! Anne Lindsey