OTTAWA — CBC wasted close to a million dollars on a movie it will never broadcast, but don’t expect the state broadcaster to cough up details.
Mulroney: The Opera, which opened in theatres across Canada on Saturday, was started in partnership with CBC, but the Crown corporation’s name doesn’t appear in the credits. That’s because it blew off the musical send-up of former prime minister Brian Mulroney over fear of political fallout.
“Yes, we were involved in the early development of Mulroney: The Opera. But as usual with our program development projects, we don’t make those expenditures public,” said CBC spokesman Jeff Keay.
Asked directly about claims from inside the film industry that CBC spent close to $1 million of taxpayers’ money, the state broadcaster again refused to release any details.
“We don’t generally comment on programs which we’ve had in development and that we choose not to proceed with,” Keay said. “We don’t release individual program development expenditures.”
CBC’s decision to drop the production means it also lost the broadcast rights for the film. The plan had been to show the film in theatres and then on television. By walking away from the project, CBC also lost any chance to earn a box office return on its investment.
Taxpayers looking for more details are unlikely to find them. CBC president Hubert Lacroix has been adamant that his government-funded operation won’t release spending details on anything related to on-air content.
“Only a judge should have the right to demand the disclosure of information that relates to our creative activities,” Lacroix told a Commons committee last month.
MPs on the Commons access to information committee were studying the failing grade the federal information commissioner gave the CBC. The information commissioner is an independent officer of Parliament charged with monitoring the openness and transparency of government departments.
CBC is fighting the information commissioner in court to stop the release of documents on several different files.