Therefore beware of murmuring, which is unprofitable; and refrain your tongue from backbiting.
The Book of Solomon 1:11

What the hell is going on with us? Have we become so infected with the meanness of the Harper leadership, the instant judgement we are hourly invited to render by reality TV and non-stop Twittering, the insistence of social media that we spend no more than a nano-second analyzing or thinking for ourselves before speaking, so zero-tolerant of any mis-step that we must pillory even the slightest perception of some possible, supposed misdeed?

What else would explain the recent dismissal of Evan Solomon from the CBC airwaves? In social justice policy, we make decisions about what behaviour we think should be censured, and then we make decisions about what the proper response should be based on everything we know about the action and the person. Guess what: A lot of us ordinary mortals are still trying to figure out exactly what censurable act was committed in this situation.  Here’s a news flash for CBC:  I don’t expect news people to be eunuchs with superior reading and eye contact skills.  They have multi-faceted lives, particularly those with a few decades of life experience.  Some have spent their careers in and around the public eye.  They have forgotten more fellow « high-flyers » than most of us have ever met.   Most such individuals are adept at compartmentalizing various aspects of their complex lives.  There seems to be zero evidence that Mr. Solomon went easy on the two art buyers if and when they have been on his programs or that he in any way skewed journalistic principles in his relationships with them. Indeed it is hard to remember when Mr. Solomon went easy on anyone. You need only re-watch his recent highly-caffeinated questioning of everyone`s favourite politician Elizabeth May after her Press Gallery dinner appearance.  And as Andrew Cohen pointed out (, Mr. Solomon’s doggedness was part of the value of his programs.

Even if one accepts the allegation that Mr. Solomon committed a censurable act, the punishment seems wildly out of line. Even the most hardline courtroom judges do not immediately impose the death penalty without reflecting on whether a period of probation might do. It’s almost as though CBC is trying to commit suicide to avoid the ignominy of being sliced and diced to oblivion by the Harper government.  In that case they might as well dismiss all their on-air staff now and go into competition with the Fireplace Channel. Perfection in anyone`s daily judgement, yours or mine, may on occasion be « aspirational » (the government’s current favourite buzzword).  When we fall short, the values driving the response should not be just « decisiveness and speed » (the words emphasized by the CBC President in his only public comment).

CBC has done a huge disservice to a very talented man, to political debate in this country, and to millions of Canadians trying to make informed policy decisions about our government.

And if that isn’t enough to make you protest, remember that any one of us is just a Snapchat away from this insidious rush to judgement. Or as The Book of Solomon also notes, « I myself also am a mortal man, like to all. »

Photo: Alex Guibord / CC BY 2.0

Mary Campbell
After being called to the Ontario Bar in 1984, Mary Campbell joined the Department of the Solicitor General Canada (later Department of Public Safety Canada) where she shaped criminal justice public policy and legislation for nearly 30 years. Retired in 2013 as Director General, Corrections & Criminal Justice, Ms. Campbell continues to contribute to public policy through research and writing, public debate, education of students and judges, and fearless human rights advocacy for persons in the prison system.

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