Former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe's "whirlwind business relationship" with Radio-Canada isn't likely to fade from public discourse any time soon, writes Michael Taube in a recent Ottawa Citizen column.

Former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe's "whirlwind business relationship" with Radio-Canada isn't likely to fade from public discourse any time soon, writes Michael Taube in a recent Ottawa Citizen column.

"In fact," he adds, "Our public broadcaster will rue the day its French language affiliate tried to get in bed with an ex-politician who wanted to break apart Canada."

For those who don't know, last week Radio-Canada announced Duceppe had been hired to provide weekly commentary — though apparently not about politics. CBC's standards require politicians must observe a two-year "cooling off" period before being hired to voice their political views on-air.

So what was Duceppe going to chat about? We'll never know. According to the press release, Duceppe backed out due to a misunderstanding about his mandate.

"From a pure ratings perspective, Duceppe would have been a good pickup," writes Taube, "But from a communications standpoint, the CBC and Radio-Canada were crazy to have pursued this option."

Not only is Duceppe is a lightning rod for controversy, he adds, l'affaire Duceppe kicked open the floodgates for a national discussion on privatizing the network.

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Taube continues:

"Their French-language radio station attempted to hire Gilles Duceppe, who would have bolstered ratings — and been bad for business. A private TV network would never have hired the former BQ leader for a full-time position. It could have led to an overall loss of viewers, advertisers, and total revenue — and that's not a risk they would be willing to take. The CBC, a public broadcaster knee-deep in annual debt, doesn't worry about such trivial matters."

Concluding:

"Well, maybe they should. Many Canadians were displeased with the CBC's original decision to hire a separatist. The issue may be over, but the bad taste still remains. If they're not careful, those same Canadians may tell Ottawa they want to separate from the CBC for good."