Lisa LaFlamme firing sparks debate over sexism and age discrimination in Canada

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For years, until her unceremonious dismissal this week, Lisa LaFlamme was a fixture in living rooms across Canada.

The abrupt firing of one of the country’s most prominent television journalists—she has headlined Canada’s most-watched nightly newscast since 2011, and this year won the Canadian Screen Award for best national news anchor—has sparked backlash and National Conversation on Sexism and Age Discrimination in the Media.

LaFlamme, who covered the biggest stories of his time, including elections, wars and natural disasters, posted a video on Twitter Monday announcing that he had been told in late June that his career at CTV News was over after the parent company Bell Media decided to terminate. His contract He had worked for the network for 35 years and had just under two years left on his contract, according to the Globe and Mail.

“I was caught off guard and am still shocked and saddened by Bell Media’s decision,” LaFlamme said, adding that she had been asked to keep her firing confidential for weeks.

“At 58, I still thought I would have a lot more time to tell more stories that impact our daily lives,” she told her followers. “While it is overwhelming to leave CTV National News in a way that is not my choice, please know that reporting to you has truly been the greatest honor of my life and I thank you for always being there.”

in a statement On Monday, CTV said it had made a “business decision” to seek a “different direction” for the lead newscaster role, citing “changes in viewer habits”. the net Announced the same day that national affairs correspondent Omar Sachedina, 39, would take office.

LaFlamme’s firing drew condemnation from viewers, colleagues in the media industry and prominent figures in Canada, including retired Grammy-winning singer anne murray.

Canadian media continue to cover the fallout, with reports suggesting several factors behind LaFlamme’s firing, including clashes between the anchor and CTV News director Michael Melling over resources for coverage of the war in Ukraine, among others. topics.

But one avenue of speculation has struck a nerve among Canadian women who are wondering: Was it the hair?

LaFlamme made headlines when she stopped dyeing her hair in 2020. During an annual review special broadcast, she told viewers that the pandemic had prevented her from visiting her stylist and that she was tired of spraying her roots every day before going out on the town. air. , according to the Globe and Mail. “I finally said, ‘Why bother? I’m turning grey,’ she said. “Honestly, if she had known lockdown could be so liberating on that front, she would have done it much sooner.”

The move resonated with Canadian women who have faced social pressure to dye their hair. But it apparently upset CTV News top executive Michael Melling, reported the Globe and Mail.

A senior CTV official told the newspaper that Melling had asked who had approved of the decision to “let Lisa’s hair go grey” and then commented on the purple hue of LaFlamme’s locks under studio lighting.

Canadian women took to Twitter this week to celebrate the former host for embracing her gray hair and owning her age.

“Lisa LaFlamme has allowed herself to age on camera and in doing so has given me the confidence to shine with my natural beauty as I age,” Twitter user Sarah M wrote Monday, calling CTV News’ decision “a big deal.” mistake”.

Others worried that LaFlamme’s firing I would send a message middle-aged women who could face professional consequences if they opted for a more natural look.

Many suggested that sexism and age discrimination played a role in LaFlamme’s firing. Some media experts he pointed that his predecessor, Lloyd Robertson, retired from the role of main presenter at 77 and received an on-air farewell.

Bell Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

LaFlamme “has made a major contribution to Canadian television news over the past 35 years,” said one statement Bell Media posted on Twitter Monday, signed by the company’s president, Wade Oosterman, and senior vice president, Karine Moses. The company would initiate an “internal workplace review of our newsroom” by an independent third party, the statement continued.

LaFlamme’s firing led some to call for Melling’s dismissaland Canadian media reported that CTV News was forced to do damage control with its own employees.

Moses said in an email to staff that LaFlamme had a chance to say goodbye to viewers before leaving the host’s chair, but “opted not to say goodbye to the audience,” the Canadian broadcaster said. Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. The anchor shakeup was part of a shift toward digital content creation at the news outlet, Moses wrote.

The backlash to LaFlamme’s firing has sparked its own backlash. In right-wing circles, figures like Maxime Bernier, head of the far-right People’s Party of Canada, enjoying the moment to divert attention from the firing by Canadian companies of thousands of workers who refused coronavirus vaccines.

Some prominent media figures, meanwhile, lament that the controversy surrounding LaFlamme’s removal obscured the importance of hiring his replacement. Sachedina, an award-winning reporter who has worked at CTV News since 2009, was born in Canada to parents of Ugandan Indian descent, a background underrepresented in Canadian media.

“A Muslim man at the helm of the biggest national news show – history,” Global News journalist Ahmar Khan twet. “But diversity does not cover the gaps in mistreatment.”

Sammy Westfall and Amanda Coletta contributed to this report.

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