This article was originally published by the Radio Canada International (RCI) Action Committee, and can be found in full here. For more information, please consult the RCI Action Committee website.

Open Letter


We call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, and Parliament to maintain the integrity of Canada’s Voice to the World, Radio Canada International (RCI).

For more than 30 years, CBC/Radio-Canada has tried to abandon its obligation to allow the international service to do its job of transmitting the Canadian reality to an external audience.

In 1990, CBC/Radio-Canada tried to shut down the service, after using money earmarked for RCI, to minimize budget cuts to the domestic service.

In 2012, contrary to its licence requirements, CBC/Radio-Canada forced RCI to stop being a radio station broadcasting on shortwave.

Now in December of 2020, again in violation of the Broadcasting Act, CBC/Radio-Canada has decided to take away RCI’s focus on producing programming for an external audience, its raison d’être since 1945.

In an interconnected world in search of truth, facts and honest journalism, countries like Canada cannot abdicate their role on the world stage. It’s not a question of whether we can afford to have a strong Radio Canada International. It’s whether we can afford not to have it.

We must not underestimate the desire of people around the world to know more about Canada, about how our democracy works, about what it means to be Canadian, about our multilateral relations with other countries, and all the other realities that make up our nation.

Public broadcasting is a sacred trust. It is a belief in an ideal. That ideal is embodied in the determination and dedication of RCI employees to rebuild a tattered institution. It will take imagination, a leap of faith, and a belief that our country not only deserves, but also must have an independent, believable voice on the world stage.

To proceed forward, we ask that the CBC/Radio-Canada policy announcement of December 3, 2020 be blocked. That any changes to RCI be put on hold until RCI staff, along with an assembled group of qualified people outside CBC/Radio-Canada, can propose a plan to rebuild the international service. The plan should devise a form of financial and editorial autonomy for RCI. And outline a path to follow to restore the international mandate and effectiveness of Radio Canada International in the context of today and the future.

Signed by:

Sami Aoun, Professor and researcher

Michel Arpin, CRTC Vice Chairman Broadcasting (2005-2010), Canadian Association of Broadcasters Chairman of the Board of Directors (1984-1986)

Lloyd Axworthy, former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chair of the World Refugee and Migration Council

Daniel Bernhard, Executive Director, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting

Mark Bulgutch, former Senior Executive Producer, CBC News

David Carment, Editor, Palgrave’s Canada and International Affairs, Editor, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, and Fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Margaret Catley-Carlson, former President, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), former Deputy Minister Department of Health and Welfare, former Chair, Global Water Partnership

Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, former Prime Minister of Canada

Louise Desjardins, author

Richard Desjardins, author, composer, singer, filmmaker

Jeffrey Dvorkin, former Managing Editor and Chief Journalist, CBC Radio

Allan Familiant, former Acting Director and former Program Director, Radio Canada International

Sheila Fischman CM CQ, literary translator, Governor General’s Literary Award, Molson Prize in the Arts

Nigel Fisher OC, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations

Wojtek Gwiazda, spokesperson RCI Action Committee, former host-producer Radio Canada International (1980-2015)

Sheldon Harvey, President Canadian International DX Club

Naomi Klein, author

Avi Lewis, filmmaker

Stephen Lewis, former Canadian Ambassador to the UN

Rowland Lorimer, publisher Canadian Journal of Communication

Robin MacNab, Canadian Foreign Service Officer 1971 – 2015

Kyle Matthews, Executive Director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies

Abhishek Mathur and Jyoti Rana, co-founders of Toronto’s Masala! Mehndi! Masti! Festival

Errol Mendes, Professor of Law and President, International Commission of Jurists, Canada

Peter Menzies, former CRTC vice chair and Macdonald Laurier Institute Senior Fellow

Alex Neve, former Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada (2000-2020)

Samantha Nutt, MD, MSc, FRCPC, CM, OOnt, Founder, War Child Canada and bestselling author

Elzbieta Olechowska, former Editor-in-Chief of English & French Programming, RCI/CBC/Radio-Canada employee from 1981-2008

Robert O’Reilly, former Executive Director, Radio Canada International

Andrew Simon, former Executive Director, Radio Canada International

Donald McNichol Sutherland CC

Donald Winkler, documentary filmmaker and literary translator



“File:RCI Tantramar.jpg” by Verne Equinox is licensed under CC BY 3.0

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