Comments about Indigenous Women Breached Broadcast Codes, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, July 4, 2018 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning comments made about Indigenous women on CHOI-FM (Radio X, Quebec City) in November 2016.  The CBSC concluded that remarks by host Jeff Fillion breached the Human Rights clause of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethicsand Equitable Portrayal Code, as well as other provisions of the Equitable Portrayal Code relating to stereotyping, stigmatization and degrading material.

During talk shows broadcast on CHOI-FM, host Jeff Fillion talked about allegations of sexual assault against Indigenous women by police officers in remote regions. After an investigation, no charges had been laid and Fillion stated that he had not believed the allegations from the beginning.  He said that, according to a police officer he had spoken to, the young, handsome police officers with attractive wives and young families would not be tempted by the “messed up” Indigenous women in remote communities who have rotten teeth, hepatitis and substance abuse problems.  One of Fillion’s co-hosts commented that it was a “horrible tragedy” that this is the situation on First Nations reserves and policing those regions is difficult.

The CBSC received multiple complaints about the broadcasts, but only one complainant requested a ruling.  The station argued that Fillion intended to be critical of the Radio-Canada story that had originally reported the allegations and of the challenges in policing remote communities, rather than to incite hatred towards Indigenous peoples.

The CBSC’s French-Language Panel examined the complaint under Clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethicsand Equitable Portrayal Code which prohibits abusive or unduly discriminatory commentary on the basis of race, sex or ethnic origin, as well as under Clauses 4, 5 and 7 of the Equitable Portrayal Code regarding stereotyping, stigmatization and degrading material.

The Panel concluded that Fillion’s characterizations of Indigenous peoples did violate those code provisions and that he did not adequately clarify that he was denouncing sexual assault and not intending to stereotype or degrade Indigenous women.  Although Fillion did attempt to attack the Radio-Canada coverage of the story, this was not the main thread of the discussion.  Rather, it was the abusive and unduly discriminatory comments about Indigenous women that stood out in the dialogue.

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 5 codes which deal with ethics, equitable portrayal, violence, news and journalistic independence.  Around 800 radio stations, satellite radio services, conventional and discretionary television services across Canada participate in the Council.

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All CBSC decisions, codes, and related information are available on the CBSC’s website at .  For more information, please contact CBSC Chair, Sylvie Courtemanche, at scourtemanche@cbsc.ca or by telephone at 613-233-4607.