'He's been put in an impossible position': Lisa LaFlamme replacement, Omar Sachedina, addresses controversial ousting in CTV debut
CTV News is tackling the Lisa LaFlamme controversy head on.
On his first night as the network's chief news anchor, Omar Sachedina spoke directly to Canadians about the controversial ousting of his colleague Lisa LaFlamme.
Sachedina admitted that the announcement around the popular anchor’s departure from CTV has made the network part of the news, which has inspired conversations about sexism, ageism and racism.
Many viewers felt LaFlamme’s departure from the network was handled poorly, leading some to believe that her age and appearance played a part in her contract not being renewed.
In Sachedina’s address, he went on to speak about his family’s history of leaving Uganda and how his journey to the position of chief news anchor “validates the promise of possibility.” He went on to acknowledge LaFlamme’s influence on him as an inspiration and mentor, thanking her directly.
“Like many of you, I really wish Lisa’s goodbye could have been from here,” he said, alluding to the news desk. (LaFlamme’s goodbye statement was made on her social media, at her residence.)
I have some news... pic.twitter.com/lTe3Rs0kOA
— Lisa LaFlamme (@LisaLaFlamme_) August 15, 2022
While many of the comments on CTV’s Instagram account expressed anger about LaFlamme's handling, others were sympathetic to Sachedina’s position.
“It isn’t Omar’s fault that this happened,” one user wrote. “He’s always seemed like a nice person and a good reporter. If he didn’t take this job someone else would. I don’t agree with how they treated Lisa. It was terrible. But it is not right to take it out on Omar.”
“He's in a difficult position,” wrote another. “No fault to him. Wish him well!”
On Twitter, some users shared their positive impressions, and experiences with Sachedina.
I feel bad for Omar Sachedina. He’s been put in an impossible position. He’s a good journalist and deserving of the role but his bosses’ blunder has unfortunately overshadowed it all. People’s justifiable anger should be directed at management, not him. I wish him luck. https://t.co/LnOpofTDJa
— Toula Drimonis (@ToulasTake) September 6, 2022
Any criticism towards Bell Media is absolutely justified. But @omarsachedina is a wonderful person and a great journalist. He doesn’t deserve any hate.
Wishing you all the best in your new role, Omar. https://t.co/3Enw3NKXHY
— Charlie Senack (@Charlie_Senack) September 6, 2022
@omarsachedina is a wonderful person and an excellent journalist. My first two weeks at CTV were spent working with him directly on our 2019 election special. He went out of his way to make me feel welcome and has always offered his advice & guidance.
Congrats Omar! https://t.co/nF8jIG9HPk
— Caitrin Hodson (@caitrin_hodson) September 6, 2022
Other users still felt strong about how CTV, and how they handled LaFlamme’s ousting.
Hollow words, meaningless and infuriating.
You lecture on “learning from it” - CTV has learned nothing.
Melling is “on leave” but still employed & there sits a young, BLACK HAIRED male (imagine that) delivering a condescending lecture & yet another shot at LaFlamme. Disgusting.
— Gordon Preece (@gordonpreece) September 6, 2022
Dear Omar. I know you are good at your job. However if that was written for you, you should have refused to read it. It was not appropriate. And if you wrote it, it shows you perhaps don’t understand that representing the corporate side in this is pouring fuel on the fire.
— Hugh Sturdy (@SturdyHugh) September 6, 2022
That little speech just about made me throw up my dinner. Your credibility is gone and so is CTVNEWS you lost a lifelong viewer.
— Leadfoot (@leadfoot12000) September 6, 2022
CTV trying to wash this down with some good deed for rationalized people but a man is still replacing an older woman in the arts. How original. 2022 and women past 50 are discarded in the workplace. Message loud and clear CTV. Ignorance is alive and well.
— Missconduct (@TheLTexpress) September 6, 2022
Sorry Omar, this is puppetry at its finest You are reading a poor corporate message with zero feelings.
— Peter G. Goral (@ArtsandClouds) September 6, 2022
Under different circumstances we may have taken you seriously. Sadly it's too late and far too little.
— David J Chenier (@DavidJChenier1) September 6, 2022
Congratulations and welcome but please, please, please don't let your hair go grey.
— Tam Sivathasan (@TheUXB) September 6, 2022
CTV’s parent company Bell Media has since launched a third-party internal investigation into how the situation was handled.