CBC execs told to rein in spending

Heritage Minister James Moore wrote to executives at CBC to ask them to curb spending habits due to the current economic situation, the Canadian Press reports.

Moore, the new Conservative minister, wrote the letter after a news report surfaced detailing the expenses of Sylvain Lafrance, executive vice-president for French services at the CBC.

The CP report states:

“I am sure that you are sensitive to the fact that, at a time of fiscal restraint when Canadians are struggling to maintain their jobs and savings, this sort of reported excess does not sit well with them,” Moore wrote in a letter released Wednesday to the media.

Reports this week detailed how Lafrance signed off on almost $80,000 in 2006, including $28,000 on hotels, travel and meals, $15,000 in office catering and $33,000 in corporate expenses for benefit dinners and theatre tickets.

Moore noted that the broadcaster has recently angered many listeners by scrapping CBC Radio’s Vancouver-based symphony orchestra.

“As this unpopular measure was justified by the CBC as a fiscal restraint measure, the same could be expected by taxpayers with regards to CBC operating expenses,” Moore wrote in the letter to Timothy Casgrain, chairman of the CBC’s board of directors.

According to Access to Information documents, Lafrance signed off on a $10,000-bill for dinner tickets for a Montreal Symphony fundraiser in April 2006.

Lafrance also personally claimed almost $6,000 for lunches and dinners with other CBC managers. And he spent $7,500 on two trips to Paris for meetings with an international broadcast partner.

CP also notes that “the CBC has been a favourite target for the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.”