Seven months after being let go as the anchor of CTV National News, after decades with the network, Lisa LaFlamme is keeping things in perspective.
“I had 35 memorable years,” at CTV, she told CBC News chief correspondent Adrienne Arsenault on Wednesday. “And I loved it. Loved it all. And there are new things to love now. So I’ll be fine. I am fine.”
LaFlamme sat down with The National and spoke more about her split with CTV, her future, and serving as a voice on women’s issues in Canada and globally.
Last August, LaFlamme announced on Twitter that CTV’s parent company, Bell Media, had made a “business decision” to end her contract. She said she was “blindsided” by the move.
Soon, a narrative emerged speculating that her newly grey hair might have played a role in the decision. LaFlamme had stopped dyeing her hair during the pandemic, which The Globe and Mail reported was questioned by a CTV executive.
This led to allegations of sexism and ageism against Bell Media, which the company strongly denied. Brands including Wendy’s and Dove even created social media campaigns about grey hair in solidarity.
Bell Media later said it regretted how LaFlamme’s departure was handled and, amid the furor, ordered a third-party workplace review of the newsroom. The head of CTV’s news division was eventually replaced.
Mirko Bibic, the president and CEO of BCE, Bell Media’s parent, denied soon after in a LinkedIn post that LaFlamme’s “age, gender or grey hair played into the decision.”
Asked whether she was terminated for letting her hair go grey, LaFlamme referred to her original video.
“It was a business decision and that’s what I know,” she said.
“Legally there’s only so much I can say.”
LaFlamme added she’s grateful for the amount of support she received.
I have some news… pic.twitter.com/lTe3Rs0kOA
“Journalists, especially women, become pincushions for the haters, if you will. And so maybe we train ourselves to hear the negative. Maybe we absorb the negative more than we should,” she said.
She says losing her job pales in comparison to some of the hardships she witnessed while on the job. “I think about — the soldiers who we saw lose their legs in Afghanistan, or babies born in tarpaulins after the earthquake in Haiti, all of these things, those are sudden changes they don’t come back from,” she said.
Earlier this year LaFlamme was nominated for best national news anchor at the Canadian Screen Awards. She says she submitted her work independently after finding out her former employer wasn’t putting it forward. The Toronto Star was first to report this development in February.
“When I learned that my work was not going to be submitted, I thought, no, it doesn’t work that way,” she said.
“You can take someone’s job, but you can’t actually erase their history and their body of work.
“In this case, these are the most important stories we covered in a year: the war in Ukraine, the Pope’s visit to this country.”
LaFlamme says the discussion resulting from her split with CTV put her front and centre for conversations about issues that she’s always been deeply invested in.
“Long before my contract was terminated, women’s rights, women’s issues, from young women, to old women, to BIPOC women, has been something I have focused on. It’s never not been in my mind,” she said.
“People now want to hear from me. And I’m happy to talk. I’d say the same things I said 10 years ago, really.”
Moving forward, LaFlamme says she wants to continue to focus on issues that have been important to her, and cites her recent work with Journalists for Human Rights, a Canadian media development organization.
CBC News reached out to CTV News for comment, but did not hear back as of publication time.