UPDATED WITH A RESPONSE FROM THE CBC.
CANADALAND can now confirm that CBC Senior Business Correspondent Amanda Lang’s ties to RBC go beyond sponsored speaking events.
Sources close to Amanda Lang, who spoke to CANADALAND on the condition of anonymity, confirm that she has been in a romantic relationship with RBC Board Member W. Geoffrey Beattie since January 2013 at the latest. This relationship is ongoing, and the two were involved in April 2013, when Lang acted within the CBC to scuttle a colleague’s reporting on abuses of Canadian labour law by RBC.
Geoff Beattie is the chair of RBC’s Risk Committee, and sits on their human resources committee.
Lang did not disclose this information with her CBC colleagues when she involved herself in the RBC temporary workers story, nor did she make any disclosure to the viewing public when she interviewed RBC CEO Gord Nixon on CBC Television.
Update: A former producer on the Lang & O’Leary Exchange, one of the shows on which Lang interviewed Nixon, tells CANADLAND: “I didn’t know Beattie was an RBC board member until I read your story. Obviously, RBC was covered quite a bit on the show.”
This revelation raises several new questions, which neither the CBC or Lang immediately responded to.
1. Did the CBC know that Lang was dating an RBC board member when she interfered with CBC reporting about an RBC scandal?
2. Did the CBC know that Lang was dating an RBC board member when she interviewed RBC’s CEO about this scandal?
3. In her many trips with Geoff Beattie, were Amanda Lang’s travel expenses ever paid for by RBC?
4. Do the CBC and Amanda Lang not feel that such a relationship, undisclosed to viewers, constitutes a clear conflict-of-interest?
UPDATE: CBC Head of Public Affairs Chuck Thompson tells CANADALAND that “Amanda did declare her relationship with Geoff Beattie to her executive producer (Robert Lack) and he has the appropriate processes in place.”
SECOND UPDATE: The former producer on The Lang & O’Leary Exchange, who was on the show during the RBC temporary workers scandal: “I, along with other Lang & O’Leary producers, were aware of Amanda’s relationship with Beattie – although I don’t think I knew much about it until late last year. BUT the relationship was only discussed in relation to conflicts with GE (which Beattie is also a board member of). As a result, we didn’t do a lot of stories about GE. In fact, I didn’t know Beattie was an RBC board member until I read your story. Obviously, RBC was covered quite a bit within the past 18 months on the show.”
Also, CANADALAND has learned that in 2011 Amanda Lang was found by the CBC Ombudsman to have violated CBC’s conflict of interest policy. Kirk Lapointe ruled that in moderating a panel of experts, all of whom opposed Jack Layton’s energy policies, Lang was “vulnerable” to “perceptions of conflct” because her brother Andrew Lang was running against Jack Layton for office at the time.
“It was not possible to compartmentalize Lang’s reporting,” wrote LaPointe.