The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) orders Radio-Canada to publicly apologize for a column from the summer of 2020 in which the “n-word” was spoken four times.
In a decision released Wednesday, members of the federal agency’s board order the Crown Corporation to “specify how it intends to mitigate the impact of the ‘n-word’ in this segment of the show.” by 29 July.
Finally, the CBC will have to produce a report “of internal measures and best practices in terms of planning that it will put in place to ensure it better addresses a similar topic in the future” by 27 September.
A chronicle in question
It all goes back to a segment of columnist Simon Jodoin on the daily show 15-18conducted by Annie Desrochers, on the book white negroes of america by Pierre Vallières and on the acceptability of the expression depending on the context in which it is used.
The “N word” was pronounced four times during the 6 minutes and 27 seconds of the August 18, 2020 column, “three times in French and once in English,” the CRTC points out.
Social activist and entrepreneur Ricardo Lamour later filed a complaint with Radio-Canada in which he said he was “struck, stressed and upset” by the use of the term by “two Caucasians who did not take into account the accusation that accompanies the use of the word used “.
The complaint was first rejected by the show’s producer, then a second time by the Radio-Canada Ombudsman after an appeal from Mr. Lamour. The latter will finally decide to take the dossier to the CRTC.
The column took place as the “Black Lives Matter” movement gained significant momentum in the United States after George Floyd’s death and, later, Concordia University lecturer Catherine Russell was suspended for naming Pierre Vallières’s book. in the classroom.
Since the use of the “n-word” was intended to “cite the title of a work that was at the center of a topical issue”, “the Council acknowledges that the word was not used in a discriminatory way in the context of the news. “.
Council members, however, judge that “the program did not meet the standards of high quality programming and did not contribute to the strengthening of the cultural and social fabric, as well as to the reflection of the multicultural and multiracial character of Canadian society.”.
Dissent within the CRTC
The reaction of the CRTC to the CBC complaint was not unanimous within the organization itself.
Two members of the Board defended the decision of the Radio-Canada Ombudsman, including the Vice President of Broadcasting, Caroline J. Simard, for whom “the decision of the majority has passed a step that I cannot cross”.
According to them, the majority decision did not respect its duty to consider the Canadian Charter and its provisions on freedom of expression.
“Furthermore, in the absence of discriminatory findings by the host and the editorialist, the majority decision did not, in my opinion, apply the current law drawn up by the Supreme Court of Canada according to which there is no right not to be offended according to the right to freedom of expression protected by the Canadian Charter and the Law, “writes Mmyself Simard.
The other dissenting, Joanna T. Levy, believes that “the majority decision is unbalanced and does not meet the criteria of transparency, fairness and predictability”.
Moreover, “it ignores the freedom of the press and, in my opinion, suffocates it”.
“Instead of bold, current and relevant journalism, we risk seeing the analysis of the news and problems of the day become jokes for comedians, whose freedom of expression seems better protected,” writes Ms.myself withdrawal.