Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Don Hill Fired For Enron Expose'?

Update: April 24

I met up with Don yesterday and he says that the Western Standard is doing an article on him this week, and the Calgary Herald should have an editorial this week also.

Update: April 15

Not much is new on the Don Hill front. As stated previously, Don Hill is expected to make a contribution in writing, and it will be posted here, assuming Don doesn't fire up a blog of his own. I'll be meeting Don next week and will have a write-up by next friday.

Update: April 05

I invited Don Hill to guest write for my blog. He's got something good coming for me.

Update: April 02

I met with Don yesterday. Don Hill has a plan.

Update: March 30

Take action and write a letter on behalf of Don Hill HERE

Update: March 26

The Rimbey Review finally weighs in.

Don Hill speaks out

Don Hill did not speak in Tony's class.

Update: March 23

**CORRECTION** Don Hill will speak in Tony's class, but it will not be webcasted as planned. HERE

Update: March 22

8 pm: Don Hill broadcast CANCELLED

Don's big announcement is tomorrow. I heard this one through the grapevine.

"Don Hill will be doing a live webcast on Wednesday, March 23, 2005 from
6-9PM MST, at the University of Lethbridge. The live broadcast can be viewed at

The broadcast will be taped and archived for subsequent viewing on the same web site. Don will set recent developments in Alberta politics in a broader context of history, geography, and ideology. He will look towards the future as Albertans begin to grapple with the question of how to replace the outgoing regime of Premier Ralph Klein with a new coalition of provincial governance."

Yup, turns out I was right. The Globe & Mail was planning a blurb about Don. From today's G & M Goat:

"Last week, I noted that, while supporters were protesting his dismissal, Hill himself had declined comment. With good reason: If he breaks silence, his severance package evaporates."


Update: March 21

HERE is the CBC's Local/Regional strategy that sought $60 million dollars dedicated to, in their words,

"Improving support for public debate in local communities."

And, get this,

"Through this plan CBC/Radio Through this plan CBC/Radio-Canada this role even further by enhancing local programming and extending service to new locations, including the BC Interior, Edmonton, and Saskatoon."

Tod Maffin just linked to this post.

The Globe & Mail has been creepin' for some Don Hill goods.

Here is a good post about the CBC and 'redundancy'. Of interest is this passage:

"CBC management, reports the team, is now intent on changing the Performance Management/Staff Development (PMSD) system from a progressive process to a quasi-disciplinary one.

PMSD was jointly developed eight years ago by the unions and the CBC. It was designed to ensure that employees have an opportunity through an open and positive process to develop their careers and to share in the objectives of the corporation. Now the CBC wants to link any failure to meet objectives to a process that may ultimately lead to an employee’s termination.

. . .

Currently, there is a separate review process in the collective agreement to deal with performance problems. It’s designed to be a corrective and supportive process, not a punitive one. It gives an employee up to nine months to make any corrections necessary and provides for training, mentoring, etc. to ensure the employee has every opportunity to succeed. "

From a google search on "cbc+redundancies", I found this interesting tidbit:

“Our collective agreement calls on management to notify the union 8 weeks before declaring redundancies – and before notifying affected employees – so that the parties can meet and see about finding the employees alternate work at the Corporation.”

Update: March 18

An excellent letter is over at

Read the Fast Forward article.

Ralph's World put up a post on Tuesday.

Via Tod Maffin, I just found a new job at the CBC for Don Hill: As the role of CBC critic/ombudsman.

The Globe & Mail has just come right out and asked it:

CBC IN BED WITH KLEIN? It isn't every day that my friends at the CBC are accused of harbouring rabid, pro-Ralph Klein sentiments. But that's exactly what's happening, thanks to the furor surrounding Don Hill. To the great chagrin of his fan club, the host of Wildrose Forum, a regional, call-in show on CBC Radio One in Alberta, lost his job earlier this month, one of a handful of staffers declared redundant in another round of CBC belt-tightening.

But Hill's Hordes are not taking the news lying down. Demanding reinstatement, a group of fans have staged rallies at CBC's Calgary office. And they certainly aren't buying the budgetary restraint explanation. They claim Hill was axed because he dared question the Alberta Premier, particularly with respect to electricity deregulation.

Smart guy that he is, Hill isn't commenting. He knows the CBC has been called many things, but a friend of Ralph Klein's right-wing Tories? I don't think so.

Update: March 17

HERE is a letter from the Friends of Don Hill to the CBC. The page has several links to more stories about Don Hill.

"CBC has terminated the best and most liked radio host ever in Alberta. This is a public relations nightmare for the CBC. As a contact person for The Friends of Don Hill in Calgary I am now being copied on many responses to CBC's letters of explanation about why Don was terminated. The CBC's attempts to justify its actions are enraging people even more. Ironically, the CBC is fueling the outcry by its justifications."

HERE is another letter.

"The fact that he was made redundant shortly after his latest program in that series is highly suspicious and suggests management’s decision was politically motivated. The obvious message this sends to other CBC show hosts that might have been encouraged by Don’s popularity is, “if you want to keep your job, steer clear of topics that the provincial government is sensitive about."

Update: March 16

The Vive accepted my submission. Thanks. Some good comments HERE.

There might be something this week in the Rimbey Review about the saga of Don Hill.

Steve Smith and Chris Chan are taking me to task in a pretty good debate about my motivations on writing about this. It all began as a debate on Gender Pricing, and was somehow turned into a debate about Don Hill, HERE.

It starts right at the bottom with a question about Don Hill from Chris Chan.

They seem pretty intent on debunking the whole thing - which is what I wanted. Treat it as lies and the truth will bear out in the end. But that's just my opinion on the matter, which, according to some, is totally baseless.

It's their right to think that.

Thanks to WK for this:

"Well the Ledge has been back in session over a week now and nothing, not a dribble has come out over this Enron/Alberta scenario. Could it be the powers that are, can reach as far into the opposition benches and silence anyone who dares speak out against it?"

Thanks to Rob for this email:

"Can you actually say "Don Hill" on the CBC anymore? I had a listener in
my office this morning who tells me callers were cut off when they
tried to mention Hill's name when calling in to Wild Rose Country.
Listeners want to know who told the CBC to get him off the air. We'll
know the answer to that when the big papers start doing stories on the
relationship between Trans Alta Utilities, BC Hydro and Enron.

Thanks to George for sending me the CMG press release about Don Hill.


The Canadian Media Guild is concerned about the circumstances
surrounding CBC Alberta radio announcer Don Hill’s impending layoff
and changes to Wild Rose Forum, the show he hosted.

The Guild has not been given a good explanation as to why the local
CBC management targeted Hill for layoff. Furthermore, it is unusual
for an announcer to be taken off the air immediately after being
given notice that his or her job is being cut, as was the case with
Hill. We are concerned that the Corporation’s heavy-handed approach
could create a chill across the CBC.

The Guild and other CBC unions have fought for decades to ensure that
front-line employees working on programming are protected from the
possibility of interference by management in the content of their
programmes. We want answers about whether censorship played a role in
the Corporation’s decision.

Hill has become a popular radio figure in Alberta and we are puzzled
that the Corporation is antagonizing the very listeners they have
worked to attract, some of whom are now picketing CBC buildings in
Alberta because their concerns have not been addressed.

Hill’s layoff comes at a time when the Corporation is eliminating
programmes and making job cuts across the country. In all recent
cases, the CBC has not followed the proper layoff process outlined in
our collective agreement. This is of grave concern to us because of
what it means for the rights of our members, their morale and the
quality of their work.

We are working to see that Hill’s rights at the CBC, including the
right to free speech, are respected. The Guild will be filing a
grievance on his behalf since the CBC has closed the door to a
satisfactory settlement.

For more information, contact the Guild ( at
1-800-465-4149 or 416-591-5333.

Update: March 15

My Gateway piece is HERE. Comments are welcome. It may appear at Vive le Canada as well.

cbcwatch has just posted it too.

I have not yet met with Don, but he has something big planned. I can't say what it is, as I want him to tell people about it on his own terms.I might like to interview him and post it on my blog.

Something from Penney Kome's blog:

"Back to Alberta: When I called Calbary CBC, I was told Don Orchard, Regional Director Radio and R.V. Alberta welcomes our concerns re Don Hill. He has not responded to my calls. A message can be left at: (403) 521-6215 or (403) 521-6000. snail mail: c/o CBC Calgary; 1724 Westmount Blvd. N-W;P.O.Box 2640;Calgary AB T2P-2M7

It is interesting that phone calls to Don Orchard about poor coverage of curling resulted in a public apology and complete curling coverage. The person I spoke to at CBC Toronto told me that Don Hill's case would not be discussed publically, as it was an internal decision between H. R. and Don Hill. I have heard that kind of thing before. When the public is outraged, suddenly things do change.

We need to make a fuss and make our voices heard. Demand that Don Hill be reinstated as Host of Wild Rose Forum. Our silence is complicity! "

Update: March 14
Thanks to Barry for the following. I doubt it's related to Don Hill, but it is interesting.

Via Tod Maffin:

EXCLUSIVE: Carole Taylor, Chair of the CBC Board of Directors, has just submitted her resignation to the Prime Minister this morning, citing a desire to return to making a contribution to her home province community of British Columbia.

the CBC had this and this to say:

"She gave no reason for the resignation. However, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said Taylor will seek the Liberal nomination for the riding of Vancouver-Langara in the May 17 provincial election." CBC

I'll have something in the Gateway tomorrow which will be cross-posted at Vive le Canada. Don wants to meet to discuss some of his next moves - sounds like he has some big plans coming out of this. He still can't comment on what is going on based on the advice of his union representatives, which is understandable.

Here are some comments from cbcwatch:

* "It seems to me that Mother Corp is doing another of it's politically inspired, behind the sceens manouvers. Don Hill had become one of the freshest voices in CBC West. When his interests turned to things close to Ralph Klien's world The Alberta despot struck.

The lack of openness from CBC management serves to show just how much they are controled by the Government's Spin Doctors. This shows us how much of a media flunky CBC's managment is to Ralph's world."

* "I agree with Betty, Don Hill was a breath of fresh air, intelligent, informed, very well researched, and opinionated. Too bad his show wasn't available to more listeners, being stuck in the 1-2pm weekday time slot. I don't believe the CBC's explanation, its more likely he was leaned on by someone on high and he refused to budge on a matter of principle, or journalistic integrity.

If too opinionated for the CBC, maybe he could utilise his talents in the private broadcasting arena. Too bad he would have to move to Vancouver, as the gutless private broadcasters in Alberta wouldn't dare employ anyone as independent as Don, who might be critical of Ralph and the good ol' boys. I guess that is also true of 95 percent of the print media here."

* "don hill added flavour and let the other side present their views in the alberta radio forum. he was informed, reflective, fair and interesting. he provided a place for people to speak there mind on important topics.

prior to him, the main topics of the show were gardening and wine tasting/making. i dunno y cbc radio has to shoot itself in the foot. although i am a supporter of the broadcaster, my support just went down a notch."

* "I am a regular listener of CBC Radio and enjoyed Wild Rose Forum and the insightful comments by host Don Hill. I am greatly disappointed that he was terminated and am very confused by your decision. I can no longer consider myself a supporter of CBC and with some certainty I can state you have lost me as a listener to CBC as a whole. There are a number of programs on CBC that I feel are deserving of not being on air - including Sad Goat, Brent Bambry Go - to name a few. Don Hill was able to provide a balanced and interesting program, providing many perspectives, and engaged the audience in meaningful and thought provoking subjects.I hope CBC would give careful consideration to this decision and make appropriate actions to reinstate Don Hill as host of Wild Rose Forum. "

Update: March 10
A letter about Don Hill rolled into the Edmonton Journal today.

Well, the editors at the Gateway did not run my piece on Don Hill today, which is probably a good thing because it will give me a chance to let things play out a bit more. There's an election going on at the U of A right now, after all, and it is understandable that they would want their content to be more inwardly-focused. I'll re-work a few of the minor details and get it out there eventually.

Also, I would expect to hear something from Don's Union Rep. tomorrow, and perhaps a response from the CBC about this very soon. All people are looking for is an explanation as to why Don's dismissal played out so abruptly. It might have been nice if they gave him a few weeks to wrap things up. I'll have to find out if the CBC already did that.

The CBC may have already told Don (this is just a theory here) that Friday was to be his last day. If people remember correctly, the "Enron thing" was supposed to fall on a friday, but Don had Mel Hurtig on to discuss the Missile Defence Shield, partly because of the previous day's announcement by Paul Martin, and partly because his guest for the Enron show couldn't come in until Monday. So, (again, just a temporary conjecture) perhaps the CBC was being nice to Don in letting him have his last hurrah, and it backfired.

At the very least, I think that all people are looking for is accountability from the CBC. Most of us want some transparency concerning why it made the choice to send Don off the way it did.

I think the CBC itself puts it best when it states that we "have a right to know".

Here are some questions I would like to see answered:

* Did the CBC tell Don that Friday's show was to be his last, but gave him an extension to cover his Enron story?

* How were Don's ratings, and are these a reliable indicator of performance given that the CBC does not rely on ad revenues?

* Who were the other people laid off?

* Why did the CBC lay them off when it received an extra $60 million dollars in this year's budget to increase local content?

* What is it that makes Don "redundant"?

Update: March 09

I would expect the Journal to write about the saga of Don Hill very soon.

From cbcwatch, I found out that Graham Hicks has something new. I guess there's a protest this Monday at noon at the downtown CBC office.

Through Tecnorati, I found out that:

*Some People don't like Don Hill.

* Some people do.

Update: March 08

Penney Kome has a new post on Don Hill.

The CBC dropped by the blog via this post at cbcwatch.

Don has contacted me to say that he cannot comment on the matter and speak to the truth that is at the heart of what is going on, so I guess my Gateway piece will not include comments from Don.

Update: March 07

Telus and CBC coverage of Don indicates that this was strictly over financial reasons.

While ratings are not the only measure of quality, they do show that Canadians are in fact tuning in to CBC/Radio-Canada

Here is a Globe & Mail article about the impact that the non-NHL season has had on the CBC. It might explain the dismissal of hockey-related announcers like Chris Cuthbert, but it doesn't explain Don Hill's case.

What about this?

Stursberg also said that there would be some changes made to existing shows to free up the resources so the network could live up to its renewed commitment to the regions.

Also, what to make of the CBC's claim to increase local content? A lot of the restructuring going on actually has to do with budget increases, not cuts.

"Faced with massive Government reductions in our funding
during the 1990s, CBC/Radio-Canada was forced to make very difficult
programming decisions, but we are committed to rebuilding our local and
regional service and this plan details how we would do that, and what it would

The strategy addresses geographic and programming gaps in CBC/Radio-
Canada's local and regional services. Specifically, the strategy will increase
Canadians' access to public broadcasting coverage of local and regional news,
culture and current events in a manner that is distinct from that provided by
the private broadcasters. The plan is intended to be implemented over three
years, with estimated costs rising incrementally to approximately $83 million
annually. CBC/Radio-Canada's ability to implement the plan is incumbent upon
the Corporation's ability to secure Government funding for it."

Let me get this straight: the CBC wants to increase local coverage, and eat up more budget dollars. Who was on the committee that decided this outcome? It likely doesn't matter. HERE is the decision on the outcome.

There's a heated discussion going on at THIS forum.

Correction: the Sierra Club is not organizing a protest.

Hi Aaron,
We are not involved locally in the protest. Our Chinook Group in Calgary is planning something I believe.

Sonja Mihelcic, Chapter Director

Open Letter to CBC from Mark Anielski and Aaron Braaten

COMMENT: Mark and I were on Don's third-from-last show to comment on the federal budget. Consider me signed, as I was just getting to know Don's program before it was cancelled two shows later.

Dear Don, Jane and other CBC executive,

Like many Albertans I am deeply distressed with the recent and abrupt dismissal (deemed “redundant”) of Don Hill from his position as host of Wild Rose Forum on CBC Radio One, which airs from 1:00 to 2:00 pm during the week across Alberta. Mr. Hill's program was a unique and important public forum in the province. As a previous guest of Mr. Hill’s show I believe that what has happened to Mr. Hill is unacceptable and an issue and a matter of public concern.

I know Mr. Hill as a veteran investigative journalist who researched his topics thoroughly and engaged interesting and knowledgeable guests who discussed and explored diverse public interest issues. He encouraged people from throughout Alberta to raise questions, to challenge the status quo and engage in open dialogue. His show, as you certainly must know from the ratings, was popular. Love him or hate him, Don Hill did provide a forum for intelligent debate and dialogue that was unique to Alberta that is otherwise missing in our society. Not everyone would agree with some of the views expressed on Wild Rose Forum, but everyone was given the opportunity to have their say.

As we know Mr. Hill was in the middle of a series on electrical deregulation in Alberta, and was raising sensitive issues that might ruffle a few political feathers but which should be part of open debate in a civil and free society. Freedom of expression is paramount to a civil society. His dismissal as “redundant” gives the appearance that the CBC may be engaged in censorship or was perhaps pressured by external forces to silence Mr. Hill’s voice and ultimately close a window for other Albertans to voice their concerns related to issues of public accountability. The CBC claims that efficiency required many national layoffs, but it is highly suspicious that Mr. Hill was dismissed so swiftly and deemed “redundant”? Why Don Hill? Why now? Would the CBC have laid off Anna Maria Tremonti? Don Hill played her role in Alberta.

In my opinion, Don Hill's removal is an affront to free speech, responsible citizenship and democratic public radio.

I stand with other Albertans and friends of Don Hill who would ask you, the executive members of CBC, to reconsider his dismissal and reinstate him to Wild Rose Forum because he has been the energy and creative force behind that program.

I believe as a public broadcaster you have a responsibility to all Albertans to account for the real reasons behind Don Hill’s dismissal, in the interests of keeping our democracy healthy.


Mark Anielski

Mark Anielski
Anielski Management Inc...sustainability consultants
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
9847 – 90 Avenue
T6E 2T2
Tel/Fax: (780) 491.0696

Adjunct Professor
Corporate Social Responsibility & Social Entrepreneurship
School of Business
University of Alberta

Adjunct Professor, Sustainability Economics
Bainbridge Graduate Institute
Bainbridge Island, Washington

Update: March o6

The Vive is advertising the Calgary "Reinstatement of Don Hill Rally". Be sure to visit it to find out how to register your disdain.

Ralph's World has some good stuff on Don Hill.

Expect to hear from Le Revue Gauche about this.

Through this google group, I found out that the Sierra Club, Alberta Chapter, is organizing an Edmonton protest. Email them.

I say we protest right outside the CBC at 1 pm and pound on the glass of his old studio so listeners can hear.

The IMC newsletter has a few posts.

Graham Hicks has caught wind of this.


Doesn't sound right.

The CBC rarely dispatches show hosts with no notice on the grounds of being "redundant," which was the official reason Don Hill was given earlier this week for his immediate termination as host of CBC radio's noon news/call-in Wild Rose Forum.

Hmmm ... wouldn't have anything to do with the veteran journalist's persistent investigation into Enron and its relationship to Alberta's power grid during the province's "electricity-restructuring" period, would it?

Or with Hill's ongoing series on gay rights, which has drawn serious fire from both sides of that particular debate? The CBC wouldn't fire program hosts because of political heat. Would it?


Update: March 05

To help me understand why Don was canned just before breaking a story of potentially huge proportions, I have turned to the cbcwatch website.

Here we find out that the CBC recently axed hockey correspondent Chris Cuthbert.

"Insiders say he butted heads with Lee over some of the myriad of other stupid decisions made at CBC. And that Lee saw the end of the NHL season as a good time to get rid of a bothersome thorn in her side."

I could see how Don Hill might rub people the wrong way - he's a bit of a provoker.

As the Star details, plenty of people are as shocked by Cuthbert's dismissal as I am about Hill's. Why doesn't the CBC want to investigate this Enron scandal in Alberta?

According to the Globe & Mail, the Market Surveillance Administrator has pressed the Competition Bureau to re-visit their case against Enron.

Well, this isn't the only scandal the CBC ignores: how about its lack of coverage on the UN Oil-for food scandal?

cbcwatch asks:

"Is the UN on CBC's "friends and family" blinder and media black out plan?"

I'm beginning to think that Enron, or members of the Alberta government are, which is weird.

The purpose of the CBC seems to be the legitimization of current power structures. Radio host Michael Enright was recently brought out into the CBC's Kangaroo court for allegedly inciting a riot against the Mayor of Toronto.

Yup, question the government - provincial or federal - and see what happens?

Rub colleagues the wrong way, and you are toast.

Something's fishy.


UPDATE: March 03:

Don has just emailed to inform me that yes, Monday was his last show, and that it's not unreasonable to read between the lines concerning why this is the case. Welcome to Oilberta Don.

More coming.


This is bad, bad news. I have just heard through a very, very short grapevine that Don Hill's Feb. 28th show was his last.

His topic of discussion? Enron and Project Stanley.

I did not get a chance to listen to the Monday program, but my Dad said that a lot of irate callers did phone the show.

What does this say about the nature of free speech and journalism in Canada when even the CBC is willing to fire a man for trying to get at the truth of the matter?

Stay tuned as I verify this story.