How did George Brown College President Anne Sado come to write a letter in support of the Bell coalition website blocking plan? Given the prior reports on Bell’s internal astroturfing campaign and the pressure on a Brock University executive (subsequently distanced by the University) it will come as little surprise to learn that the origins stem from direct Bell lobbying. According to documents obtained under provincial access to information laws, Mark Milliere, TSN’s Senior Vice President and General Manager (part of Bell Media) relied on the same playbook as with Brock University, citing its support for the college and urging it to write in support to the CRTC. The request included sample letters from Brock and Ryerson University (more on Ryerson in a forthcoming post).
The George Brown College letter is notable for several reasons. First, the Bell website coalition’s reply to comments on its proposal specifically referenced it as demonstrating support from Canadian colleges for its proposal. Second, it came from the College President, which Bell advised would have more impact. Third, Sado was warned that there were concerns with the proposal, but after discussing directly with Bell decided to write in support.
Much like the Brock University lobbying effort, the Bell pressure began with a letter to a known contact.
The contact forwarded internally, noting Bell’s support for the school and its programming.
Once the issue made its way to Sado, she asked her team whether there were reasons not write a letter, advising that she would speaking directly to Bell.
That sparked a warning from the Director of Corporate Communications that there were concerns and some risks. After Sado spoke directly to Bell, she dismissed those concerns and decided to write the letter, though notably asked Luigi Ferrara, the College’s Dean of the Centre for Arts, Design and Information Technology if he would be willing to write the letter in his name.
After Bell advised that the letter would have more impact if it came from the College president, the final submission came directly from her.