Comments about Jewish People and Misrepresentation of Hampstead By-Law Violate Code, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, August 15, 2012 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning comments made on Dutrizac broadcast on CHMP-FM (98.5 FM, Montreal).  The CBSC concluded that the host made disparaging remarks about the Jewish community and misrepresented a nuisance by-law.  The broadcast violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code.

Dutrizac is a talk program hosted by Benoît Dutrizac.  On the episode of September 29, 2011, Dutrizac and religion expert Alain Pronkin discussed the City of Hampstead nuisance by-law which prohibits excessive noise on certain holidays.  City council had added the Jewish holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to the list of holidays covered by the regulation in recognition of the fact that 83% of Hampstead’s population is Jewish.  Dutrizac complained that the Jewish community was imposing their values on Quebec society and encouraged listeners to go make noise in Hampstead on the upcoming Rosh Hashanah holiday.  When Pronkin tried to explain that Rosh Hashanah represented the new year in the Jewish faith, Dutrizac replied [translation] “No, no. You’re in Quebec!  It’s January 1st!”  Dutrizac also referred to a situation that had occurred in Outremont in 2006, calling the Hassidic Jewish people who had requested that an exercise studio cover its windows as [translation] “mentally ill, retards”.  Dutrizac and Pronkin then discussed reasonable accommodation of minorities in general.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs complained to the CBSC that Dutrizac had made negative generalizations about all Jewish people by suggesting that they were forcing all of Quebec to conform to its ways and that the host had misrepresented the situation in Hampstead because the Jewish residents had not pressured city council to change the by-law.

The CBSC’s Quebec Regional Panel noted that the host and guest were entitled to criticize government policy, but agreed that Dutrizac presented false information about the Hampstead by-law contrary to Clauses 6 and 7 of the CAB Code of Ethics.  The majority of the Panel agreed that the host had made abusive and unduly discriminatory remarks about Jewish people when he called them “mentally ill retards” and he stereotyped them by suggesting that they were trying to impose their will on Quebec society.  That aspect of the broadcast breached the Human Rights Clause (Clause 2) of the CAB Code of Ethics and various clauses of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code.  One adjudicator dissented and would not have found violations for the negative portrayal of the Jewish community.

The CBSC was created in 1990 by Canada’s private broadcasters to administer the codes of standards that they established for their industry.  The CBSC currently administers 7 codes which deal with ethics, equitable portrayal, violence, news and journalistic independence.  Nearly 750 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty and pay television services across Canada are members of the Council.

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All CBSC decisions, Codes, links to members' and other web sites, and related information are available on the CBSC's website at www.cbsc.ca. For more information, please contact the CBSC National Chair, Mme Andrée Noël CBSC Executive Director, John MacNab