Ottawa South Liberal MP David McGuinty fears that an NHL-style lockout would spell the end of the CBC.
To be quite frank, the CBC is more fragile than the NHL. There will always be a market for professional hockey in this country, but public broadcasting depends on public support. As much as we need it, this dispute is threatening the place of the CBC and thereby its sustainability.
And no one needs the CBC more desperately than the Liberal Party. The hoi polloi may not watch CBC TV much except for hockey and the news, but the news is all the Liberals need to keep them in line and the chattering classes chattering away in their favour. CBC opinion invariably makes its way into the newsrooms and classrooms of the land, thus shaping the public opinion of those who never watch it.
If the NHL can survive the loss of a season, but the CBC can't, pray tell which institution is more deeply rooted into the culture and the hearts of the Canadian people?
And yet people found other things to do when Hockey Night in Canada wasn't on, as they have in the absence of CBC.
One common theme running through the most passionate defences of the CBC is that it alone can act as the medium for Canadians to share their stories with each other. We would stumble dazedly through the streets, unable to speak or think coherently. Newfoundlanders would be bewildered by the exotic language, creed and customs of Albertans. Thunder Bay would be as alien to Toronto as Timbuktu.
Nonsense. A documentary about the Far North will be just as informative and enlightening, whether it comes from TVO, History or Newsworld. And a funny story from Cape Breton will be just as funny as one from Vancouver, whether or not Stuart McLean is there to tell it.