February 19, 2022

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How Ted Rogers’s preoccupation with family control planted seeds for the turmoil in his empire

Ted Rogers was determined to keep the Rogers Communications empire in his family, so he set up a complex plan for his wife and children to take his place as the controlling shareholder when he died. 

But now it’s tearing the family — and potentially the $30-billion company — apart.

Today, a B.C. Supreme Court judge is expected to decide how much control Ted left his son, Edward Rogers, as the chair of the family trust. 

The bitter family drama erupted last month when it emerged that Edward tried to oust CEO Joe Natale and replace him with the company’s then-CFO. After Natale alerted the board, other family members, including Edward’s sisters and mother, voted to block the move and to remove him as chair.

Edward instead unilaterally fired five members of the board, replacing them with successors of his choosing and reinstating himself as chair.

The drama and ensuing court battle has drawn attention to the company’s ownership structure.

In 2007, more than a year before his death, Ted Rogers carefully walked through his succession plans with writer Robert Brehl, who co-wrote the businessman’s autobiography, Relentless: The True Story Of The Man Behind Rogers Communications.

“He was obsessed with the family keeping the company,” Brehl said in an interview with CBC News.

WATCH | The complex plan to keep the Rogers’ family in control: 

The complex plan to keep the Rogers’ family in control


According to Brehl, that obsession was a result of the sudden death of Rogers’s father, Edward Samuel Rogers, who founded the Toronto radio station CFRB. He died at 38. 

“His mother lost the company, and she told Ted over and over as he was growing up, ‘Your job is to get the company back for us,'” said Brehl. “That’s why keeping family control was so important to him.” Read more on this story here.

Moose crashes through window of Saskatoon elementary school

(Jayme Melnyk)

This young moose sits dazed on the floor after it smashed through a window on Thursday morning at Sylvia Fedoruk School in Saskatoon. One student sustained minor injuries but did not need medical help. Conservation officers tranquilized the moose and released it outside of the city. Read more on the unexpected school visitor here.

In brief

The regulator of Alberta’s doctors is performing unannounced inspections at medical clinics in a bid to crack down on doctors who spread COVID-19 misinformation or prescribe unproven remedies for the disease. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) said it has conducted five inspections related to COVID-19 complaints since targeted enforcement began three weeks ago. In a statement to CBC News on Thursday, the regulator said the five cases are at various stages in the investigative process, but it declined to provide further details on the allegations. Read more about the inspections

Retail giant Reitmans brought more than 100 shipments of clothing into Canada from a Chinese factory suspected of secretly using North Korean forced labour, a months-long CBC Marketplace investigation has found. Reitmans says it has a policy against using forced labour, and that its orders from the Dandong factory were a small amount of what they’ve sold on store shelves. The retailer says it has stopped placing new orders with the facility. Read more on this story from CBC Marketplace.

Almost 90,000 Canadian seniors are being hit by a sudden cut to their monthly income because they accepted a federal financial benefit that was supposed to help them weather the pandemic. Low-income seniors who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) are seeing their Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) payments clawed back as a result. GIS is intended to help low-income seniors make ends meet. The payments are based on income. A single senior earning less than $19,248 qualifies for GIS. The cutoff for couples can be as high as $46,128, depending on their pension situation. In 2021, the maximum monthly payment under the program is $948.82. Read the full story here.

B.C. Premier John Horgan says he has been diagnosed with cancer after a biopsy of a growth on his throat late last week. In a statement Thursday, he said pathology reports following his surgery confirmed the mass was cancerous. “My prognosis is good and I expect to make a full recovery,” wrote Horgan, 62. “The surgery and biopsy that were done last week were successful and I am grateful to the amazing health-care team for all the support I’ve received.” The premier said he will begin radiation treatment in the next several weeks and it will finish toward the end of December. Read more on this story here.

Four years into the National Housing Strategy, non-profit housing advocates say a federal loan program that offers low-cost loans for developers working on affordable housing projects needs a total revamp. The National Housing Co-investment Fund (NHCF) is the federal government’s flagship initiative for building affordable housing, with a trove of more than $13.8 billion in loan money to build homes for families forced to choose between rent and groceries. But it’s a trove some non-profit builders say they can’t access. In practice, the NHCF is failing to fulfil its potential, national housing advocates told a CBC News investigation into access to affordable housing. “I think it was a bit of a poker game,” said Ottawa-based housing policy consultant Steve Pomeroy. The NHCF is administered by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), which is responsible for scrutinizing the applications to use NHCF to get construction loans. Pomeroy says the CMHC’s vetting process is creating insurmountable barriers. Read more on this story here.

The potential $50-million to $100-million cost of a Canadian papal visit isn’t far off the amount the Catholic Church still owes residential school survivors, say advocates. They say that bill — estimated at slightly more than $60 million — must be paid and all documents about the schools disclosed before one dollar is committed to bringing Pope Francis to Canada for an expected apology. A Vatican expert says that’s highly unlikely, but survivors say they’ll keep pressing. “That money should go to survivors first. The Vatican is rich. They owe us for what they did,” said survivor Madeleine Whitehawk of Saskatchewan’s Cote First Nation. “They have not been honourable. Saying sorry is not enough.” Last week, the Vatican announced the 84-year-old pontiff intends to come to Canada to further the “long-standing pastoral process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.” No dates or locations have been confirmed. Read the full story here.

Now for some good news to start your Friday: Age is just a number, and seven older Calgarians are proving just that after they were honoured by the city Wednesday for their contributions. Every other year, seven city residents who started exceptional new ventures in their later years are recognized in the Top 7 Over 70 awards. The eldest recipient, 90-year-old Margaret Southern, is known for being the co-founder of Spruce Meadows and its Leg Up Foundation, which helps support several community initiatives in grassroot sports and education, among other things. The youngest recipient, 73-year-old Blackfoot Elder Miiksika’am, or Clarence Wolfleg, was recognized for his work as a spiritual leader. Miiksika’am survived the residential school system of the 1950s and became a UN peacekeeper, longtime Siksika councillor and widely admired spiritual adviser at Mount Royal University. Read more about the award winners.

Opinion: It’s time for our government to stop outsourcing the protection of Afghans at risk

While I applaud Canada’s commitment to assist thousands of Afghans at risk, I wonder why I, and hundreds of other Canadians like me, along with dozens of organizations around the world, are left holding the bag to save these people’s lives, writes human rights consultant Corey Levine. Read the column here.

First Person: Decolonizing my Filipina identity has drawn me closer to my culture

As the pandemic forced the world to slow down and turn inward, many of us took the time to unpack and unlearn what we had not questioned before. It was during this time that I realized I knew little to nothing about my Filipino ancestors, writes Desiree Ruiz. Read her column here.

Front Burner: Carrie Bourassa and false claims of Indigeneity

The fallout from CBC’s investigation into the ancestry claims of Carrie Bourassa — one of Canada’s most prominent researchers on Indigenous health — has been swift. After the investigation found genealogical evidence that contradicts public statements Bourassa made about her family’s Indigenous ancestry, she’s been suspended from her roles at the University of Saskatchewan and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. She’s also facing public anger from those who say she unfairly took jobs and funding meant for Indigenous people. 

In a statement, Bourassa has disputed CBC’s reporting, and said that she has been working with a genealogist to investigate her ancestry.

But this issue is much bigger than one person. Today, CBC senior investigative reporter Geoff Leo tells us about his investigation into Bourassa’s claims. Then, we speak to University of Ottawa professor of Indigenous Studies, Veldon Coburn, about why these stories keep happening — and what to do about it.

Front Burner25:29Carrie Bourassa and false claims of Indigeneity

Today in history: November 5

1873: Prime Minister John A. Macdonald’s government resigns over accusations of accepting election campaign money from shipbuilder and financier Sir Hugh Allan in return for the contract to build the Canadian Pacific Railway.

1939: The National Research Council’s official time signal is first broadcast on CBC Radio. Listeners all across the country have since used “the beginning of the long dash” to set their clocks to the exact time.

1940: Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes the only U.S. president to be elected to a third term in office. A later amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms.

1995: An intruder armed with a knife breaks into 24 Sussex Drive and makes it as far as the bedroom where Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his wife are sleeping. The intruder comes face-to-face with Aline Chretien, who slams and locks the door, then calls security.

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