Former Canadian Ambassadors say changes to RCI a mistake

In an open letter released March 18, 2021, 45 former Canadian ambassadors called planned changes to the international mandate of Radio Canada International (RCI) a mistake.

“As diplomats who have served Canada all over the globe, we know the benefits to our country of foreign audiences knowing about Canada.” The former ambassadors called for a halt to a new CBC/Radio-Canada policy, which takes the focus of the international service away from programming for international audiences.

The open letter was sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, and Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, and it calls on them to support a call to convene an independent assessment of how RCI can best continue its international mission, with a form of financial and editorial autonomy.

For more information, please contact Wojtek Gwiazda, Spokesperson, RCI Action Committee,

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Open Letter from Ambassadors

As diplomats who have served Canada as ambassadors, high commissioners, and consuls general we wish to voice our support of the staff of Canada’s international service, Radio Canada International, in their campaign to maintain the service’s focus on programming for external audiences.

As diplomats who have served Canada all over the globe, we know the benefits to our country of foreign audiences knowing about Canada. We also believe that it is our responsibility as a nation to provide a reliable source of news and information.

Despite an open letter signed by former Prime Minister Joe Clark, former Canadian Ambassador to the UN, Stephen Lewis, former Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, former diplomats, foreign affairs specialists and others, CBC/Radio-Canada seems determined to implement its new RCI policy on April 1.

We believe that diminishing RCI’s core mandate of programming for an external audience is a mistake. It is true that the Internet now gives access to many Canadian sources of information, including the CBC, but RCI’s uniqueness is its experience in explaining the Canadian reality to foreign audiences not familiar, or barely aware of Canada and its reality.

We therefore call on the government to intervene and block the new CBC/Radio-Canada policy. We further support the RCI Action Committee’s call to convene an independent assessment of how Radio Canada International can best continue its international mission, rebuild its capacity to fulfil its core mandate, and do so with a form of financial and editorial autonomy.


Brian Baker, former Ambassador

Gaston Barban, Board Director, AMBCANADA – Canadian Ambassadors Alumni Association;  former High Commissioner of Canada to South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia and  Mauritius, and Ambassador to Madagascar

L Michael Berry, former Ambassador

Jean-Pierre Bolduc, Ancien haut-commissaire et ambassadeur du Canada en Afrique

Denis Briand, Ambassadeur: l’une en Guinée et l’autre au Burkina Fasso en plus d’avoir été Haut Commissaire en Sierra Leone pendant que j’étais en Guinée

Phil Calvert, former Ambassador

Keith H. Christie, former Ambassador of Canada to Mexico and Cuba

Nick Coghlan, former Ambassador & Consul General

Terry Colfer, former Ambassador

Abina M. Dann, Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine 2005 – 2008, Consul-General to Sao Paulo Brazil – 2008 – 2012

Robert Dery, former Consul General of Canada in Minneapolis

Jean-Yves Dionne, Délégué commercial et ancien Consul général du Canada à Rio de Janeiro

James Elliott, former Trade Commissioner and Consul General

Otch von Finckenstein, former Ambassador

Paul Frazer, former Canadian Ambassador and Official Spokesperson

Réjean Frenette, ancien Ambassadeur du Canada

Émile Gauvreau, ancien Ambassadeur

Jacques Gignac, ancien Ambassadeur du Canada

John W. Graham, former High Commissioner and Ambassador

Marius Grinius, former Ambassador of Canada, Vietnam, North and South Korea, UN Geneva

Sam Hanson, former Ambassador

Nick Hare, former Ambassador

Ernest Hébert, ancien Ambassadeur

Kathryn Hewlett-Jobes, former High Commissioner to Jamaica, Bahamas and Belize

John T. Holmes, former Ambassador

Jean-Paul Hubert, ambassadeur á la retraite

Rod Irwin, former Ambassador

Ferry de Kerckhove, former Ambassador of Canada,Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt

James M. Lambert, former Ambassador and former DG of Public Diplomacy

Christian Lapointe, ancien Ambassadeur du Canada

Anne Leahy, former Ambassador to Russia 1996-1999, former Ambassador to Poland 1993-1996,First Secretary Canadian Embassy to the USSR 1980-82

John Macfarlane CM

C. R. Mann, former Ambassador

Barry Mawhinney, former Ambassador

Carolyn McAskie OC, former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, former Assistant Secretary General, United Nations

Brian Northgrave, former Ambassador

Roy Norton, former Consul General of Canada and former Chief of Protocol of Canada

Louis Poisson, ancien Ambassadeur

Andrew Robinson, former Ambassador

C. William Ross, former Ambassador and Consul General

Jean-Guy Saint-Martin, ancien ambassadeur dans différents pays d’Afrique et du Maghreb

John Schioler, former ambassador to Egypt, Sudan, Zaire, Congo (Brazzaville). Rwanda and Burundi

Sandelle Scrimshaw, former High Commissioner, Ambassador and Consul General

Scot Slessor, former HOM, Consul General

Richard Têtu, ex-Ambassadeur du Canada

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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: Read 111 articles by Admin RCI Action Committee Website
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