The complainant, Christopher Budgell, wanted to know why Sunday Edition host Michael Enright was able to attend the Canadian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies’ week-long lecture series in Cambridge, England. He thought it inappropriate for a journalist to be there and was a conflict of interest. He also wanted to know who paid his expenses. His inquiry led to the correction of a violation – CBC repaid the expenses. Attendance at the conference was consistent with CBC practice and in no way compromised him.
You were concerned that Michael Enright, host of The Sunday Edition, participated in a conference sponsored by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Legal studies. You pointed out he had also participated in an earlier conference in 2015, and you had communicated your objections then as well. At the July 2017 conference, Mr. Enright chaired a panel with two judges. You explained your concern:
I’m raising this issue again, given that Mr. Enright was on the programme again last year, acting as a moderator for a panel composed of two SCC justices, one of whom is now the Chief Justice of Canada. As Chief Justice he is also the Chair of the Canadian Judicial Council that I am alleging has been contravening the Judges Act since 2003, when certain changes were made to its by-laws.
You thought Mr. Enright’s presence at these conferences “have never been intended to be part of his mandate at the CBC. I.E., no specific programming has resulted. But obviously he is invited because of his reputation as a journalist. That, in effect, benefits the conference organizers.”
You asked if Mr. Enright had paid his own expenses to attend the conference. You added even if he had you believed his participation “compromises him as a journalist.”
As well as noting you believe the Canadian Judicial Council to be in violation of the Judges Act, you shared your views that contrary to the public’s view of the judiciary as serving the public interest, you have “seen a great deal of evidence of the judiciary’s vigorous promotion of its own interests and consider that the bi-annual conferences in Cambridge and Strasbourg are an outstanding example.”