I listened to parts of Friday’s CKNW Orphans’ Fund Pledge Day, wondering if they would be more forthright about shifting over $1 million from the charity to pockets of Corus Radio since 2006.
CKNW employees are now careful about saying “Every cent goes to the children.” Instead, they allow on-air guests to leave the same impression. Examples from Friday’s radio show:
Brooks Patterson — Safety Manager, Pacific Group of Companies
“There’s no admin fees, those are all picked up, so it’s a real easy charity to get behind. So, we’ve always been big fans.”
John Daily, Global TV
“The administration is done gratis. It’s all volunteer. So you’re not looking at an organization that has a lot of overhead here. It’s got like zero overhead. The money goes to the kids and the families that need it.”
Wally Oppal, BC Liberal Remittance Man
“My understanding is that there’s virtually no overhead involved, that all the money that’s given by the donors goes to the needy people. That’s great.”
By the way, NW’s event involves a little deceptive counting. In the past, the station’s claims for Pledge Day have exceeded the charitable receipts issued for an entire year. This technique, aimed at building prestige, involves announcing or re-announcing every actual or hoped for receipt on the day of celebration, regardless of whether the money has already been collected or may never be collected.
Repeated expressions about NW paying the charity’s administration costs – as they did in pre-Corus days – are simply not true. So why are they made?
Because the Pledge Day event is mostly a seasonal orgy of self-congratulation aimed at promoting businesses. CKNW is the prime beneficiary. Their concern for social justice might be better demonstrated by encouraging maintenance of the social safety net and an economy with opportunity and fair wages for all.
Perhaps the worst example Friday was the Denny’s restaurant chain in Vancouver appearing on Pledge Day to pat themselves on the back for delivering money collected from employees and customers. This is the company accused in a $10 million BC Supreme Court action of abusing low wage foreign workers:
“Fifty workers from the Philippines say they were hired to work at Denny’s as cooks and servers through the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program last fall.
“But they allege they were cheated out of wages and accuse Denny’s of not paying back the recruitment and processing fees they were forced to provide in order to come to Canada.
” ‘Very vulnerable workers that are being brought over under the temporary foreign workers program shouldn’t be taken advantage of,’ said their lawyer, Charles Gordon.”
Throughout Pledge Day, I heard people saying that society’s most needy are fortunate to receive charity, I’m reminded of a scene written by Charles Dickens. To gentlemen entering Scrooge’s counting-house collecting for the poor, Scrooge responds,
“Are there no prisons? And the union workhouses – are they still in operation? Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course.”
I’d prefer a year with 365 days worth of social justice, rather than one day of questionable generosity.