French-speaking community mobilizes to help save CBEF Windsor radio station

In 2009, when CBC/Radio-Canada announced budget cuts affecting local programming at CBEF Windsor, a French-language radio station in southern Ontario, the Francophone community created SOS CBEF to speak out against the cuts and their potential impact on the community.

Nearly 900 complaints were filed with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages against CBC/Radio-Canada under Part VII of the Official Languages Act, which led to an investigation by the Commissioner of Official Languages. The complainants argued that CBC/Radio-Canada’s decision had a negative impact on the vitality of their Francophone minority community.

CBC/Radio-Canada refused to cooperate with the investigation because it believed that its programming activities were regulated exclusively by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. The broadcaster’s reaction led the Commissioner and a representative of Windsor’s French-speaking community to file an application with the Federal Court. The court would declare that federal institutions have an obligation not only to support the development of official language minority communities, but also “to act in a manner that does not hinder the development and vitality of Canada’s Anglophone and Francophone minorities.”

The community mobilization paid off, and the local programming was brought back after the CRTC renewed CBC/Radio-Canada’s broadcasting licence in 2013.