Brief history of the RCI Action Committee

En français ici

The RCI Action Committee started as the Coalition to Restore Full RCI Funding in 1991, just after it was announced that RCI would lose half its budget and half of its language sections.

I was one of 93 employees whose jobs were eliminated. During a break of a human resources meeting with us, we realized this would be the last time we would see each other. We asked our union (SCFP at the time) for pizza and some blank picket signs, and then demonstrated outside the RCI offices on the corner of Amherst and Rene-Levesque. That was our first public demonstration.

A month later we held a press conference at the National Press Building in Ottawa.

Then in December we testified before a parliamentary committee, again in Ottawa.

At the time, we didn’t have the Internet. So we spent hours on the phone and hours faxing Members of Parliament, Senators, organizations and individuals. And it wasn’t just staff involved, Sheldon Harvey the President Canadian International DX Club (CIDX) helped out a great deal. As well CIDX member and future RCI staffer Bill Westenhaver was one of the main fax workers.

We got lots of coverage in newspapers and TV and radio, we were invited by Parliamentary Committees to testify, we participated in launching a Senate inquiry into the cuts, and we received thousands of letters from listeners from around the world.

And we learned to never underestimate the capacity of politicians to listen to us, especially non-elected senators, who take their role as the chamber of sober second thought seriously.

That first year, after the Coalition testified at that House of Commons committee, the committee came out with recommendations to support RCI.

And never underestimate the willingness of Conservative politicians to support us. One of the strongest supporters after the cuts was Conservative Senator Finlay MacDonald, who after meeting with us in Ottawa, stood up in the Conservative caucus, in front of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and denounced the cuts at RCI.

Three years later, he and Liberal Senator Raymond Perrault would set up an inquiry into the cuts, and conclude RCI needed to be restored and, in fact, get more resources.

It was a long process. It took lots of patience. And there were many disappointments over the years.

I will spare you the details of the battles in 1995, 1996, 2001 etc, but there were many. Some were public and some were behind the scenes.

It was in 2001, when another giant redeployment of staff hit us, that we changed the name of the committee to the RCI Action Committee. We were no longer fighting to restore funding; we were fighting a desperate battle to survive.

Our battle in 2012 to stop CBC/Radio-Canada from dropping shortwave broadcasting was both determined, and in the end failed, when the Conservative Heritage Minister James Moore changed the Order in Council we had insisted had to be respected: the obligation for RCI to broadcast on shortwave.

Our battle in 2020 is clearer and even more fundamental: our whole raison d’être of broadcasting to an international audience is being taken away from us.

This is, perhaps, is our last stand.

Wojtek Gwiazda 

wojtekrciaction@gmail.com

Here’s more on our battle in 2020: http://rciaction.org/blog/2020/12/04/modernizing-rci-to-death/

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RCI Action Committee

Website: http://rciaction.org/blog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rci_action

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rci_action_committee/

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/61392551483

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Radio-Canada-International-Action-Committee-RCI-Action-Committee-111166015613472/

Email: rciaction@yahoo.ca

Spokesperson: wojtekrciaction@gmail.com

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Article by Admin RCI Action Committee Website

Wojtek Gwiazda has been the spokesperson for the RCI Action Committee since 1991. The Committee is supported and funded by the union that represents almost all RCI employees: the Syndicat des travailleuses et travailleurs de Radio-Canada (STTRC formerly SCRC). E-mail: wojtekrciaction@gmail.com Read 89 articles by Admin RCI Action Committee Website
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