The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will not appeal a recent arbitration ruling that found the public broadcaster erred in firing a reporter at its Manitoba bureau in 2019.
CBC president and chief executive officer Catherine Tait, alongside other senior management, made the announcement to staff in an internal memo Monday, first obtained by J-Source, a journalism-focused online publication.
"It has been a very difficult stretch since (the ruling), particularly so in Winnipeg, but also for many employees outside of Manitoba. There have been a number of long, hard meetings and conversations which yielded candid feedback and raised recurrent themes," Tait wrote.
"While we do not agree with some aspects of the decision, we will not pursue it further."
In December 2019, Ahmar Khan — a reporter on contract with CBC Manitoba in Winnipeg — was fired, after management learned he had leaked internal information to outside media outlets.
Khan had previously been in a spat with management, after he was ordered to delete a social media post critical of hockey commentator Don Cherry. After he deleted the post, Khan told outside media outlets, under condition of anonymity, he’d been instructed to do so.
CBC management learned of Khan’s actions after fellow CBC Manitoba reporter Austin Grabish searched through Khan’s personal correspondence mistakenly left accessible on a shared work laptop.
Arbitrator Lorne Slotnick ruled Khan speaking to an outside media outlet "amounted to, at most, a minor indiscretion" that was "far overshadowed by the breach of his privacy that enabled the employer to discover those activities."
As a result, Khan was ordered reinstated for the four months remaining on his contract, or to be paid out for the time left. Slotnick also ruled Khan was entitled to damages.
Khan, who has been working as a freelance journalist since his firing, published a single-word post to social media after the ruling was delivered: "Vindicated."
The ruling touched off a firestorm in Canadian media circles, with many progressive and racialized journalists saying what happened to Khan was indicative of racism within the industry.
"Change is never easy, but ensuring we create a safe, equitable and more inclusive workplace has been, and continues to be one of the top priorities for senior management… But we know these are just hollow words if we don’t act on them," Tait said in her memo to staff.
"We can’t undo the past, only learn from it and put those learnings into actions that will undoubtedly make us a better public broadcaster."