Worse than I thought


Jian Ghomeshi, the CBC broadcaster who was fired after he was accused of sexual assault, leading to a vomitous flood of revelations about his behavior, is the subject of a an investigation and report on his behavior and the actions of CBC. Would you believe the CBC was a hostile work environment for women that condoned Ghomeshi’s activities?

Janice Rubin, the Toronto employment lawyer who led the investigation, writes in the report that CBC management “failed to take steps required of it in accordance with its own policies to ensure that the workplace was free from disrespectful and abusive conduct." The report details that in at least three documented instances, managers failed to investigate sexual assault allegations leveled against Ghomeshi, with CBC brass apparently "all too ready to believe his version of the truth."

The report also states that in the months following Ghomeshi’s firing from the radio network, "several" women have come forward to accuse at least four other people of sexual misconduct—one off-air employee was even fired.

Sounds to me like a cesspool needs draining.


  1. congenital cynic says

    Not that big of a surprise, really, and certainly not news. He was a big celebrity who was seen as vital to the CBC’s radio ratings. As with celebs everywhere, people looked the other way when he was out of line. This “lack of action” was out there after the whole thing broke. It didn’t take a report to reveal it. Some of the victims were interviewed on CBC months ago and told of their having complained and nothing being done.

  2. says

    So where’s Nugent’s ten-thousand word screed against the CBC for making their report public? Or all the media outlets reporting on this story since it broke in the Toronto Star. Surely that’s so irresponsible when Ghomeshi has yet to be convicted of any crime. I asked him about it but all he wanted to talk about was how mean you are, PZ. Surprise.

  3. slatham says

    Well, the CBC’s budget is being cut (apparently $130 Million and over 650 positions cut this year). So there’s opportunity for draining the cesspool, or filtering it a bit, but it’s possible it will just get more concentrated.

  4. Alverant says

    Reminds me of Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear, a giant jerk who was tolerated until he finally went too far.

  5. Rey Fox says

    I don’t think it was recolored. She still looks a shade darker than Archer, which is about all she really is on the show.

  6. savant says

    slatham @ 4,

    Given that it seems like the terribleness (terribility?) of the place runs right up to the top, I can see the cuts as being an excuse to get rid of those bothersome liberals and feminists. Or, well, since they’re union, any layoffs will likely be by seniority… sorry, young people! I’m sure that McDonalds is hiring!

  7. municipalis says

    @10 – I wouldn’t be that cynical. If you read the decision in the doctors’ case, it becomes pretty clear that there were enough serious flaws and conflicts in the evidence that would raise a reasonable doubt.

    With Ghomeshi, the fact that so many victims have come forward to report similar behavior will weigh heavily against his credibility.

  8. raefn says

    PZ, ‘women that condoned’ makes your post confusing. Did you mean ‘condemned’?

    I’m so cynical about misogyny, the only times I’m ever surprised about these cases is when management takes the women’s side.

  9. EigenSprocketUK says

    @raefn #12, I’m pretty sure that it was a missing comma. So “would you believe the CBC was a hostile work environment, that condoned…” rather than “hostile for women who condoned”.

  10. Trickster Goddess says

    By the way, Ghomeshi’s old show “Q” is being relaunched and rebranded on Monday as “q” with new permanent host Kenyan-Canadian hip-hop artist Shadrach Kabango. Livestream 9 am ET at http://www.cbc.ca/radio/q .

  11. municipalis says

    @15 – Huh? That’s a pretty accusatory statement. The legal standard has always been “beyond a reasonable doubt” – a “probably” isn’t good enough to condemn someone to prison, no matter what the crime (for good reason). In the case you cited there was very little evidence to support the victims’ claims while (e.g. no sign of drugs on the toxicology report, video evidence which showed she had no problems walking, contradictions in the victim’s testimony). Even if you believe they probably committed sexual assault there’s certainly a lot of facts which could reasonably raise some doubts. And once you get to that point, an acquittal is required.

  12. says

    @municipalis The law in Canada is that a person has to give affirmative on-going consent. Also, they can not be incapacitated when giving such consent. The judge basically said that the victim’s memory was unreliable because she may have been so intoxicated that she blacked out what happened. De facto, that would make her incapable of consent whether she was deliberately drugged with something else by the doctor(s) or no. Also, the judge had to decide that both victims were lying or mistaken, not just one. On top of that, the judge brought in the red herring that the rapists perpetrators accused may have mistakenly believed that she consented–that’s not supposed to be a defence either if my understanding of the CC is correct–people are supposed to take reasonable steps to ensure consent of their sexual partners.

  13. municipalis says

    @19 – All good observations and reasonable critiques of the ruling. You’re right that consent has to be ongoing (see R v JA), but “affirmative” is more difficult. The legal standard – which actually comes from the criminal code provision for sexual assault – requires that the accused take “reasonable steps” to ascertain consent, but I don’t think the judge really addressed that here. She had laid out the law correctly, but then seemingly confused “mistaken but honest belief” with the “reasonable steps” analysis. I think you’ve convinced me!

  14. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    contradictions in the victim’s testimony

    Incidentally, due to the well-documented way the human brain processes trauma, this is not at all inconsistent with her having been sexually assaulted.

  15. municipalis says

    @21 – not at all, and I think courts are alive to that. Even in this case Justice Thorburn noted:

    [33] I am acutely aware that complainants have a very difficult task. They must present themselves in a public forum and describe, in excruciating detail, aspects of their personal lives that are often intimate, embarrassing and painful. Moreover, in some cases they must try to remember details about things that happened a very long time ago. Their credibility and the reliability of their testimony may be vigorously challenged. Everything they say and do is meticulously compared and contrasted with other statements they or others may have made about these incidents.

  16. says


    I think you’ve convinced me!

    Thanks for being open-minded.

    In R v Ewanchuck the Supreme Court ruled that there is no such defence as implied consent. The onus is on you to make sure your partner is affirmatively consenting. Taken together with the principle in R v JA that such consent must be ongoing, and Section 273.1 subsection 2, where it says consent can’t be given if the complainant is incapable of consenting, I think it’s pretty clear that the judge erred. Unfortunately, the victims are likely too traumatised and disheartened to pursue an appeal, even if the Crown is game.

    Given what Thorburn wrote which you quoted in 22, it’s in my mind more egregious that she set so high a bar on the complainants *consistency* against the *content* of their reported memories. It stands to reason that if a victim is intoxicated or drugged on top of all that other stuff, what they report is likely going to be inconsistent. But that doesn’t make their testimony worthless. It doesn’t automatically introduce reasonable doubt as to the accused’s guilt. Otherwise, it makes rape against drunk or high or mentally ill people no crime at all.

  17. Phillip Hallam-Baker says


    Clarkson was playing an on screen character that was rude and obnoxious. He ended up becoming his character. I don’t think anyone ever accused him of sexual harassment and given the circumstances, I don’t think he would have got away with anything like that post Saville. Also Clarkson asked his supporters not to attack or blame the guy he hit. He took full responsibility.

    I don’t think anything like that happened in this case. The alleged offenses were worse, the victims were the ones pushed out, the establishment closed ranks around their ‘star’ and they only fired him after the lawsuits started to pile up.

    And on top of it all, Clarkson was the lead of the most profitable program on BBC TV by quite some way. Dr Who makes more revenue but SF dramas cost a lot more than three chaps being prats in borrowed cars. Top Gear is an internationally successful program. This chap isn’t known at all outside Canada.

    So all in all I don’t think the BBC and CBC treated the situations in the same way.

    Clarkson is probably starting a new version of the show with a different production company but I suspect that his persona isn’t going to be funny in the same way any more.

  18. says

    The alleged offenses were worse, the victims were the ones pushed out, the establishment closed ranks around their ‘star’ and they only fired him after the lawsuits started to pile up.

    There are no lawsuits in this case. Ghomeshi was fired when he went to the management to tell them “his side” before a reporter was going to break a story about his abusive activity outside of work. Turned out that the reporter was talking about some other big story he was working on (it was only after the firing that the reporter had enough corroboration to proceed with *that* article), and showing your boss pictures of your sexual partner’s serious injuries and saying it’s okay because it’s “consensual”* is not such a good idea. Criminal charges were also not laid until days after the story broke, when police invited victims to come forward and report (and I don’t know for sure, but I think none of the complainants are employees of the CBC).

    This chap isn’t known at all outside Canada.

    What product of CBC is known outside of Canada? You really can’t compare that way. Q was by far the biggest radio show on the network, and Ghomeshi one of the top celebs.

    *the CBC’s lawyers were probably aware that in Canada you can’t legally consent to sustaining injuries causing serious bodily harm