The trajectory of CTV's former lead anchor, Lisa LaFlamme's dismissal from the network has led to loud feedback from viewers and now an internal investigation into how it was all handled.
Earlier this week, the veteran journalist took to her social media to inform her followers that her contract with CTV was not renewed, despite having two years left. She described being “blindsided” by the decision, which was described by the network as a “business decision” sparked by “changing viewer habits”.
Many on social media were outraged by the move, describing it as sexist and ageist. There are reports of conversation around LaFlamme’s decision to go gray, with some wondering if that was part of her exit from the network. A petition on Change.org has since been launched to reinstate LaFlamme back to her former job.
How stupid does CTV think we are? Of course Lisa LaFlamme didn't want a public on-air sendoff. She was fired. Unlike Mansbridge & Robertson it wasn't her choice to leave. To stay on she'd have to spout CTVs narrative. No thanks. Head high #LisaLaFlamme. We respect you.
— Donna Pasiechnik (@DonnaPasiechnik) August 19, 2022
Dear @BellMediaPR :
1. Fire Michael Melling with cause immediately.
2. Make a public apology to Lisa LaFlamme and your workers.
3. Deliver a deep apology to your subscribers, Canadians and viewers.
4. Beg for forgiveness.
5. Beg Liss to come back.
— Mike Gibbs🏳️🌈🇺🇦 (@Mikeggibbs) August 18, 2022
Lisa LaFlamme’s post announcing she was terminated by CTV has over 4 million views. Which just goes to show (1) she is a journalist who can draw an audience and (2) CTV is in PR nightmare.
Michael Malling, the genius news director who dismissed her, has 333 Twitter followers.
— Mark Hume (@themarkhume) August 19, 2022
Below is from a Vancouver radio station. This unjustified & very wrong firing has angered many as Lisa LaFlamme was an outstanding anchor & the key reason I watched the CTV News. I know I will never watch them again, so The National it will be. Best to Lisa & shame on #BellMedia pic.twitter.com/BbsDm95ZUd
— Michelle Lim (@THELIMS4) August 19, 2022
Past her stellar journalistic career & credentials, Lisa LaFlamme allowed herself to age gracefully on national tv. She showed us daily that we can stay relevant, strong, beautiful & that age didn’t matter.
Then the folks at CTV brought their female ageism to work.
— Arlene Dickinson (@ArleneDickinson) August 16, 2022
Lisa LaFlamme ‘going grey’ questioned by CTV executive, says senior company official - The Globe and Mail. I’ve never seen an aging male newscaster who has had to dye his hair. https://t.co/yaqO0C3PKQ
— jann arden (@jannarden) August 19, 2022
Fun fact : I am a feminist gerontologist by training.
All signs point to Lisa LaFlamme being a victim of the ageism/sexism double whammy and I hate it here.
— Julie S. Lalonde (@JulieSLalonde) August 15, 2022
Bell Media, the parent company of the network, has since put out a statement saying they regret the way the situation was handled and they take the accusations around it very seriously. They added that an independent, third-party internal workplace review will be taking place in the near future.
Anil Verma is a professor emeritus of industrial relations and HR management with the University of Toronto. He says Bell Media appears to be in damage control at the moment because they know they’ve done damage to themselves.
“I don’t think it went well for them, in fact it went badly,” he tells Yahoo Canada News.
He’s unsure whether CTV was within their legal right to not renew LaFlamme’s contract if she wasn’t needed, saying it could be a matter of personalities clashing. However, a number of people were likely involved with the final decision and still managed to handle it poorly.
“You can’t argue that she wasn’t doing her job properly, that wouldn't stand in front of an arbitrator,” he says. “She could justly sue CTV and win a big settlement because she has lots of evidence to show that performance on the job wasn’t an issue and she was fired for reasons unrelated to her ability to do the job.”
When it comes to proving the allegations of ageism and sexism, Verma says that would be more of a challenge to prove, as you’d have to demonstrate there was a systemic issue of demoting women at the network.
Still, he points out that not only have CTV lost their lead anchor on the network, they’ve invited a tsunami of bad publicity.
“Someone should be held accountable for that,” he says. “If you’d done it right, you wouldn’t have to do an internal investigation.”