On Twitter earlier this month, former National News host Lisa LaFlamme announced that she had been let go from CTV, a news station based in Toronto, Canada. In a video to her followers, she noted that the company ended her contract on 29 June, after 35 years, due to a “business decision”.
“I was blindsided, and still shocked and saddened by Bell Media’s decision,” she said. “I was asked to keep this confidential from my colleagues and the public until the specifics of my exit could be resolved.”
She went on to tell her followers how meaningful the last three decades of her career has been and detailed all the topics she’s had the opportunity to cover as a reporter. After thanking her viewers, she noted how grateful she was for CTV.
“At 58, I still thought I’d have a lot more time to tell more of the stories that impact our daily lives,” she said. “Instead I leave CTV humbled by the people who put their faith in me to tell their stories. I guess this is my signoff form CTV, so I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of you.”
“While it was crushing to be leaving CTV national news in a manner that is not my choice, please know reporting to you has truly been the greatest honour of my life and I thank you for always being there,” she added.
After the journalist shared her video, The Globe and Mail reported that the head of CTV News, Michael Melling, took issue with LaFlamme’s hair. According to a senior CTV official, Melling had asked his colleagues about “who let Lisa’s hair go grey”. The publication claimed that after LaFlamme’s hair caused a lighting issue on set, Melling told her that she was being let go from the company.
The speculation then prompted a some businesses to show their support for LaFlamme, including Wendy’s Canada, which shared a photo on Twitter of its signature mascot with grey hair, along with the caption: “Because a [star] is a [star] regardless of hair colour”.
Multiple viewers expressed how inspired they were by LaFlamme and praised her showcasing her grey hair on television.
“In support of grey-haired women everywhere: embrace and rock that grey!” one Twitter user wrote.
“If anyone wants to organise a huge protest outside CTV and Bell Media headquarters, with everyone wearing grey wigs, count me in,” another wrote.
A third Twitter user said: “Fired for grey hair? The woman oozes class (grey hair or not) and was at the top of her game. @BellMediaPR your job IS media. In this age of #cancelling#antifeminism#ageism who thought this was a good idea? They should be fired and you should hire back #LisaLaFlamme.”
However, in a LinkedIn post shared earlier this week, Mirko Bibic, president and chief executive officer of Bell Media, addressed the decision to end LaFlamee’s contract. After praising the journalist for all the work she’s done, he denied any claims that she was let go due to “age, gender or grey hair”.
“I am satisfied that this is not the case and wanted to make sure you heard it from me,” he said. “While I would like to say more on the Bell Media decision, we are bound by a mutual separation agreement negotiated with Lisa, which we will continue to honour.”
Elsewhere in the post, Bibic acknowledged how Melling has been “subject of various allegations”, before revealing that the VP was on “leave, effective immediately, pending the outcome of the workplace review that is proceeding”.