Open letter in support of LaFlamme calls on Bell to ‘make things right’

A group of Canadian business leaders, artists, academics, journalists and former politicians have signed an open letter to the BCE and Bell Canada board of directors and management in support of Lisa LaFlamme.

Printed as a two-page ad in the weekend edition of The Globe and Mail, the letter is signed by well-known Canadians like Anne Murray, Jann Arden, and Sarah McLachlan, in addition to women known for their own efforts to crack the proverbial “glass ceiling” including Kim Campbell, the only woman to serve as Canada’s prime minister; Kathleen Wynne, the first female premier of Ontario; and Linda Hughes, the first woman in Canada to hold the position of publisher of a major newspaper at The Edmonton Journal.

Among the more than 75 signatories are General Roméo Dallaire, former Liberal cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy, former Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon, former Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall, former Research In Motion CEO and philanthropist Jim Balsillie, former CBC News Editor-in-Chief Tony Burman, and Toronto Star columnists Susan Delacourt and Rosie DiManno.

“Sometimes when something happens to one of us, it feels, in a very profound way, as though it has happened to us all,” the letter begins. “Bell Media’s ‘business decision’ to fire CTV National News anchor Lisa LaFlamme in the very prime of her career is one of those times…Award winning. Ratings leader. Fearless. Iconic. And most important of all, trusted for 35 years.”

“All until one thing changed: the colour of her hair,” it continues. “In making their ‘business decision,’ Bell confirmed one sad truth: even after all the progress women have made, they continue to face sexism and ageism at work everyday in a way that is unacceptable. Period.”

The letter goes on to issue a call to the company, asking what it will do to “restore trust” and “make things right?”

The ad was funded by philanthropist Margaret Norrie McCain, widow of French fry titan Wallace McCain and the first woman to serve as lieutenant governor of New Brunswick; her daughter Eleanor McCainJulie Di Lorenzo, President, of Toronto real estate developer and builder, Diamante Urban Corp., and “the friends of Lisa LaFlamme.”

It comes less than a day after Bell announced that Michael Melling, CTV’s Vice President of News – who increasingly appears to be the network’s intended scapegoat in “L’Affaire LaFlamme” – was going on leave. BCE President & CEO Mirko Bibic later clarified in a post on LinkedIn, that Melling would remain on leave pending the outcome of a third-party workplace review announced on Aug. 19.

LaFlamme winning PR war

LaFlamme, 58, continues to win the public relations battle two weeks now since the announcement of her termination. In addition to dozens of personal expressions of support, including from her predecessor in the Chief Anchor role, Lloyd Robertson, companies like Dove Canada, Wendy’s and Sports Illustrated have jumped into the fray.

Dove launched its #KeepTheGrey campaign with a $100,000 donation to Catalyst, an organization building inclusive workplaces for women, proclaiming that “Age is beautiful. Women should be able to do it on their own terms, without any consequences.” Wendy’s Canada followed, changing the colour of its iconic mascot’s trademark red hair to grey.

A petition to reinstate LaFlamme now has close to 180,000 signatures, amid calls to boycott Bell Media. Political cartoonists also continue to get mileage out of the fallout.

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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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