Lisa LaFlamme has been with CTV News for 35 years. She’s been anchor of the highest rated national news since 2011 when she took over for the retiring Lloyd Robertson who left at age 77. At competing network CBC, Peter Mansbridge left at 69 in retirement. LaFlamme was fired at age 58 with years left on her contract. She was told to keep quiet. She didn’t have any final words on her last broadcast and her payout was likely dependent on saying nothing till she was done.
In Winnipeg, we saw a similar dumping of Gord Leclerc from the same network. It seemed pretty harsh for a station that was in ratings command. At 53, you get dumped for reasons that still don’t make sense? As a cost saving measure? Understandably, Leclerc was shocked and took a year to recover from what had been 25 years in the job. He has new work as a contractor now and seems at peace.
It is hard to imagine LaFlamme is not up for a challenge. As a bilingual former journalist with more to give, you have to wonder if she is a good candidate for the Lt. Governor position in Ontario. The present candidate has served since 2014 and is 77 years old this year. Appointed by Stephen Harper, Elizabeth Dowdeswell is serving in a position that normally runs give years. Dowdeswell is a remarkable woman but the prime minister Justin Trudeau shouldn’t put so much pressure on public servants. We have just seen Janice Filmon serve almost as many years in grace and in sometimes difficult health for her and her husband before hearing this week she will be replaced by Manitoba’s first Jewish Lt. Governor, Anita Neville. At 80, Neville is older than Ontario’s LG who started the position at 69.
LaFlamme did her job, maintained the ratings for CTV and for many was a role model. Letting her hair turn white when it was not easy to style in the pandemic resonated. Her firing makes a lot of women question whether they are allowed to age gracefully. They should take note of Leclerc to realize most TV broadcasting gravitates to young news teams. The problem with this is the lack of institutional memory. There are not enough people on any TV news team in town who were reporting when Glen Murray was last mayor, for example. Heck, there are a lot of people missing from news teams from even the last civic election!
I don’t know what is next for Lisa LaFlamme. She could find new work in journalism, academia, vice regal or wherever. Still, it seems in a country where many jobs are unfilled, you fire skilled people like they were nothing.
This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations