Those interested in speaking for or against the privatization of Ontario’s public broadcaster will have to travel to Thunder Bay next month to state their views.
And that has Susan Flemming, the local rep on TVO’s Northwest Regional Council, offering to speak for anyone who can’t make it there.
“I am making a presentation,” she noted last week, adding she wasn’t sure how many people would be able to travel on a Tuesday to make their own.
“That’s why I am offering to go [to Thunder Bay] and be their voice.”
Flemming already has sent letters to local municipal governments and school boards with her offer, and also plans to write to school councils.
Rob Sampson, the minister responsible for privatization, announced last Wednesday that the Community Forum Panel—chaired by Sheridan College president Sheldon Levy—would travel to London (Nov. 17), Toronto (Nov. 19), Sudbury (Nov. 24), Thunder Bay (Nov. 25), and Ottawa (Dec. 1).
But the sites—or more specifically, the lack of them across the north—has NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton upset.
“People from Kenora, Red Lake or Fort Frances will have a long way to travel to voice their concerns about the Harris government’s plans to sell-off TVO,” he noted.
"The Harris government either doesn’t realize or doesn’t care that TVO is one of the few channels that many people in rural and remote northern communities receive.
“The Harris Conservatives are ignoring these communities by only scheduling public hearings in a handful of Ontario cities,” he charged.
But the Privatization Secretariat said it also will conduct meeting with TVO employees, stakeholders, its board of directors, five regional councils, and aboriginal and Francophone advisory councils.
Special meetings will be held in Sioux Lookout with First Nations reps, and in Ottawa with Francophone ones.
“The main goal of the TVOntario privatization review process is to determine the role of government in educational broadcasting and to find the best way to improve service and value for taxpayers,” Sampson assured.
Ontarians are also invited to share their views with the Privatization Secretariat by telephone, fax, mail, or e-mail.
Dyane Adam, principal of Glendon Collage (York University’s bilingual campus), and Gerry Smith, principal of River Oaks Public School in Oakville, round out the three-member panel that will tour the province.