Political Criticism Acceptable according to Broadcast Code, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, March 28, 2012 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning comments made on the public affairs program Dumont broadcast on V.  A political commentator made remarks about people who vote for the Quebec Liberal Party and about anglos and immigrants.  The CBSC concluded that the remarks were not abusive or unduly discriminatory and therefore not in violation of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics or Equitable Portrayal Code.

Dumont is a political discussion program hosted by Mario Dumont.  On October 20, 2011 Dumont’s guest was Martin Pelletier.  They talked about the upcoming Liberal Party convention.  Pelletier characterized Liberal supporters as [translations] “lobotomized”, “brainless idiots” and “losers”.  Dumont pointed out that people are entitled to their political opinions and suggested that people vote Liberal because they fear Quebec separation.  Pelletier responded to that suggestion with [translation] “Immigrants, Anglos and people on life support”.

A listener complained that Pelletier had labelled immigrants, anglophones and the elderly as lobotomized, brainless idiots and losers, and that such “racist opinions” should not be broadcast.  The CBSC Quebec Panel members disagreed on whether Pelletier’s two comments were in fact linked, but, either way, they all concluded that the comments were not abusive or unduly discriminatory on the basis of nationality, ethnicity or age under the Human Rights Clauses of the CAB Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code.  The Panel considered the statements legitimate expressions of opinion on a political topic.

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