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article imageOn Jian Ghomeshi: CBC exec says broadcaster should have done more

By Marcus Hondro     Nov 7, 2014 in Entertainment
In interviews with her staff, the head of CBC English language programming gave the broadcaster's side of the Jian Ghomeshi scandal. Heather Conway spoke to Peter Mansbridge on TV and to Carol Off on the radio. She admitted mistakes were made.
“We had a place in this otherwise decent environment that was clearly dysfunctional," she told Off. "I have no reason to say it wasn't toxic. You know, you have to intervene, you have to stop it, and clearly some efforts were made to do that, but obviously we have to do better.”
Conway was referring to having seen on Thursday, for the first time, a "workplace-culture document" produced in 2012 by Q staff. That document referred to the environment surrounding the show, an environment in essence controlled by Ghomeshi, as toxic.
No substantive reason for her not having seen it when it was first produced two years ago was given by Conway, nor could she say why there was little if anything done about what the workplace-culture document detailed.
Jian Ghomeshi shows video to CBC
Conway also spoke with Off about CBC staff seeing a video Ghomeshi brought to them (Conway has not seen it). The video, Ghomeshi said, proved his enjoyment of "rough sex" was consensual. In it, she said, Ghomeshi was seen to hurt a woman, one he claimed he was in a relationship with and who consented to his actions.
That issue of consent, Conway said, did not mean they were prepared to be tolerant of the actions in the video. “My expectations of the behaviour of the people at the CBC and people who represent it is much higher than the low bar of legal consent,” she said. Ghomeshi's firing came in large part because of what was seen in that video.
CBC failed to investigate Q complaint
When the issue of a complaint in 2010 from a young woman who had worked as a producer on the Q came up, Conway admitted to Off the CBC should have done more. The complainant said that Ghomeshi grabbed her buttocks and said he wanted to "hate f---" her and complained to her union of a toxic work environment caused by the host. Conway said in that case the CBC had “clearly mishandled” the complaint.
Speaking to Mansbridge, Conway said the CBC launched an investigation into Ghomeshi in June when a reporter from the Toronto Star, likely Kevin Donovan, told them that allegations against their host were coming not just from woman he'd dated, but also from CBC employees.
The head of human resources investigated, interviewing Q staff, but it lead nowhere. “I don’t have any complaints, I don’t have any record of sexual harassment or sexual violence," she told Mansbridge when talking about the CBC dropping the investigation. "And so I have to go with what I have."
She was also asked why the CBC did not go to the police once they realized that violence had taken place. “Well, again, I think it’s important to make the distinction that this is evidence from a year-long relationship that involved the rough sex that’s referred to.”
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