Friday, March 26, 2010

Note to Krista Erickson, CBC Reporter

CBC reporter Krista Erikson has been traveling at taxpayers expense as the “designated traveller” for Calgary Centre Conservative MP Lee Richardson. How’s that for conflict of interest? This is the same Krista Erickson who was handing written questions to Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez for him to ask during the Brian Mulroney/Karlheinz Schreiber hearings before Parliament, which he dutifully did.

Any one with common sense would know that accepting free air travel from a Member of Parliament would compromise that person’s ability to be independent, or at the very least would compromise that reporter’s perceived independence. Meanwhile is Krista Erickson not familiar with the CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices, which reads:

1.2 Journalistic Standards and Practices


CBC/Radio-Canada personnel will not accept offers of free travel or accommodation from outside organizations or individuals to facilitate the gathering of program, news or research material or for any other reason flowing from the person's position or role in the CBC/Radio-Canada.

CBC/Radio-Canada programs must be protected from improper external influence or the suspicion of such influence. Travel and accommodation costs are a form of program expense and are not to be absorbed by outside agencies.

Any exceptions to this policy will be considered only for journalistic purposes and only when no commercial transport is available. In any event, an invoice should be demanded. Approval must be received prior to commitment from the senior officer in information programming.

CBC reporter gets free flights, Erickson registered as MP's designated traveller

By STEPHEN MAHER Ottawa Bureau
Thu. Mar 25 - 7:54 PM

OTTAWA — CBC national political reporter Krista Erickson is registered as the designated traveller for Calgary Centre Conservative MP Lee Richardson, which means she is entitled to receive flights paid for by taxpayers.

The Canadian Association of Journalists and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation both said the designation raises tough questions for Erickson, Richardson and the CBC, since she covers federal politics as part of her job.

Erickson declined to comment Thursday.

“If it’s about Lee, I’m not talking,” she said.

Richardson said he and Erickson have been together for a couple of years. He said he registered her as his designated traveller in the fall or winter. He doesn’t know if she has so far taken advantage of those flights.

“I’ll have to check,” he said. “I’m frankly not sure. It would be for events in the riding she was joining me for, outside of her duties, obviously.”

Under the benefits package available to members of Parliament, each MP gets 64 travel points a year redeemable for free flights. According to the handbook issued to MPs, they can “allocate some or all of the 64 travel points to their designated traveler.”

Most MPs register their spouse as designated traveler, but some designate other family members. Defence Minister Peter MacKay, for instance, has registered his mother, Macha.

In 2008-09, Richardson spent $143,850 of taxpayers’ dollars on travel, although the disclosure provided by MPs does not provide enough detail to know what portion of that went for flights.

Erickson is in an unacceptable position, says Mary Agnes Welch, president of the Canadian Association of Journalists. The organization’s code of ethics says journalists should not have a personal relationship with people they report on. This is worse than that, she said.

“It’s one thing to have a personal relationship,” she said. “It’s another thing entirely to be benefiting from that relationship. Actually being able to fly for free because of that relationship kind of brings it to a new level. A reporter who covers national politics in any way who is in a relationship with an MP is clearly in conflict.”

Kevin Gaudet, of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, says it looks bad.

“That will be a problem for them, for the Tories and the CBC. That will be a problem all the way around. It looks to me like he would be running afoul of the conflict of interest commissioner, and their guidelines of avoiding the appearance of conflict of interest,” said Gaudet.

“And I would have thought that she would be tripping over journalistic integrity by putting herself so closely aligned with the reception of resources available to a member of Parliament.”

CBC says it is taking care to avoid any conflicts.

“I have to be careful,” said Jeff Keay, a spokesman in Toronto. “We wouldn’t make any comment about any personal relationships of our employees, except to say that we ask our journalists to declare any potential conflicts of interest and then we address those appropriately.”

Richardson said Erickson is not covering him.

“She does have a protocol about covering me or anything involving Conservative events, so she doesn’t cover any of that stuff,” he said.

Erickson is no stranger to controversy. In 2007, when former prime minister Brian Mulroney was testifying before a Commons committee in relation to his business relationship with Karlheinz Schreiber, Erickson handed written questions to the Liberals for them to pose to Mulroney.

In response to a complaint from Doug Finley, then the director of political operations to the Conservative Party, and now a senator, CBC ombudsman Vince Carlin found that Erickson had violated established practice at CBC by “unwisely” giving questions to the Liberals.


evision said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dr Mike said...

Me thinks it is time to hear the chop chop of the proverbial axe.

Dr Mike Popovich

Anonymous said...

Seems Richardson is the news of the day, with this and a contraversial contract grant.

Why would she be on his list? More going on here - affair?

Anonymous said...

You Liberals are really grasping at straws, can show one report by Erikson that displays bias?

Didn't think so.

Now as far as the CBC goes as a whole, do you hear that chopping sound?

DavidA said...

Displays bias in favour of the Libs you mean.

She's gonna be an outcast at work now that her comrades know she's all up in the CPC, or it's all up in her, whichever is funnier.

WesternGrit said...

Her? Wow, that's funny. A few years ago, over dinner at a local Indian establishment (in Calgary), Lee indicated that he sat "behind the hottie" (referring to a certain Conservative MP - you can guess which one). Seems he's always had an eye for women roughly half his age (or less). Wonder what his wife and kid think of that? More importantly, Calgary tax-payers who express moral outrage over things like this all the time?

As far as my thoughts on this? Who cares who Lee is currently schtupping - as long as she isn't a CBC reporter with few scrupples and less for brains... Another Duffy in the making?

Anonymous said...

Zark on Earth to Spaceship news:

"Canadian girl reporters are easy"

We're following a breaking story. In the local news today, it is being reported that a girl reporter of the state-run TV is 'flying' with an important and big politician.

Note to editor: 'big' is the term term the locals use but I'm not sure if their usage is figurative or literal.

Reid said...

Western Grit: Wonder what his wife and kid think of that?

You are aware that Lee is a widower right? And that his 3 children are adults? It's not like he's cheating on anyone.

I mean it's not like he cheated on his wife, then abandoned her and their kids for an English strumpette he worked with (cough Iggy cough).

WesternGrit said...

... Was thinking "family" when I made that comment... No-one ever pointed out that he was widowed when we met.. on more than one occasion. Knew about the kids... Cheers...

Anonymous said...

The amount of small minded savants out there, and YES I am talking to those that are bashing Ms. Erickson....seriously GET A LIFE!

If her bf wants to list her as his travel companion, REALLY who cares, that's his choice.

Again, I all really need to get a LIFE, jealous is such a horrible trait.

Anonymous said...

Krista Erickson is one of the most unethical human beings that ever walked the face of the earth.

We are talking about someone who is on the same "ethica level" as Tiger Woods or Jessie James mistresses. She has been sleeping with married men for years. Just ask anyone who knew or worked with her during her Winnipeg years.

If she has no qualms about married men ... and no qualms about journalistic ethics in her work ... why would she care about spending taxpayers dollars? LOL

Anonymous said...

Well never mind the fact she is at least half his age, she actually has no journalistic integrity. What this has done is prevent h er from reporting on Conservative issues or do investigative reporting on that party. Limits her ability as a journalist. Who she dates and their age is her business, but it wasn't smart of her to accept being desginated traveller if it was to be kept discreet.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that she still hasn't learned the code of ethics after that first incident.
Now she's into public bullying on Sun TV with the interview with Margie Gillis. Blaming others for 'wasting' tax payers dollars? Really?