CBC issues redundancy notice to senior legal counsel Danny Henry
Danny Henry, senior legal counsel at CBC and a noted advocate for press freedom in Canada, will be leaving his job with the broadcaster after being issued a redundancy notice, sources say.
Henry will leave the CBC after serving the broadcaster with legal counsel for 34 years.
“Danny has made a tremendous contribution to freedom of expression in this country,” Toronto Star lawyer Bert Bruser said in an email. “This is a very silly thing the CBC has done.”
Others noted the range of legal advice that Henry provided to the CBC over the years.
“The side of Danny that isn’t as public but is hugely important, has been inside CBC, where he’s been utterly indespensible in providing advice about the news we get to hear, the documentaries we get to see, the insights that are shared with the public,” said Brian MacLeod Rogers, a Toronto-based media lawyer, Ryerson media law professor, and colleague of Henry’s since they attended law school together at the University of Toronto. “[He] has done so remarkably successfully over the years; despite huge pressures on the CBC and its producers … they’ve broadcast some of the most important programs that world television has seen, much less Canadian television.”
Rogers continued: “I know, because I occasionally act in his shoes when the law department has been tied up in other matters, that he routinely fields calls of all kinds from every part of Canada.”
During his time at the CBC, Henry has worked on cases that fundamentally changed the media landscape in Canada. One example is the 1994 Dagenais v. CBC Supreme Court decision that gave freedom of the press equal importance as the right to a fair trial.
“It used to be that the courts would always favour fair trial rights over free press rights and any kind of risk to possibly prejudicing a fair trial would trump the need to communicate about a case, even on matters of great public interest,” said Rogers.
“[After Dagenais] that got radically changed so that the two are regarded equally,” Rogers continued. “That represented a fundamental shift in the thinking and approach of the judiciary to that issue.”
As well, Henry has been an advocate throughout his career for allowing cameras in the courtroom—an issue he spoke to J-Source about in March. “Cameras, when they are present, fade into the background just like reporters in the front benches of the courtroom fade into the background,” he argued to reporter Alexandra Posadzki.
Henry’s contributions resounded with colleagues inside the Corporation as well.
“It’s not like we’re left with nobody…but Danny was the best. He was quick, smart and a real advocate…he is a rockstar,” said one CBC journalist who asked not to be identified. This sentiment was echoed among the colleagues who had spoken about Henry’s departure from the broadcaster’s legal department, this source said.
Of course, this is just one job cut of many: CBC has said it will be issuing hundreds of redundancy notices in response to the 10 per cent budget cut it was left to deal with after the federal budget was announced in March.
At the time of publication, Henry had not responded to a request for comment.