Oh Canada!

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council is not laughing about Radio-Canada’s controversial “Bye Bye 2008” New Year’s Eve sketch show, which drew criticism for its jokes about blacks and anglophones. One of the most outrageous sketches included an interview with a comedian suggesting Barack Obama would be easy to assassinate because the first black U.S. president would stand out against the White House.

Source. What did the show’s producer and writer have to say for themselves?

Veronique Cloutier and Louis Morissette, the producer and head writer of the “Bye Bye,” said in a rambling news conference at the height of the controversy that they aren’t racists and only intended to present an edgy comedy show.

They aren’t racists. Check! They’re edgy. Check!

12 thoughts on “Oh Canada!

  1. There’s that “intent” word again.

    Clarification from Canadian readers needed: does the term anglophone have cultural/political connotations (i.e. Quebec) or is it general to English speakers?

  2. i have read comments on american news blogs making horrible jokes about Obama, or calling his wife horrible names, the us american broadcasters don’t seem to notice or care.

    from the article:
    “Other aspects of the show were not judged so harshly.
    Razzing of anglophones, aboriginals, politicians and the poor was found to be “trashy, crude and in bad taste,” but essentially harmless”

    the producer trying to be “edgy” huh?

  3. I am a Canadian. In my neck of the woods (Eastern Canada) anglophone means a speaker whose first language is English and francophone means a speaker whose first language is French. Spell checkers often proffer francophoBe instead of francophoNe, which has an entirely different meaning.

    Francophonie is also used in French to denote the cultural aspects of being part of the francophone community. I have seen both francophone and anglophone used with and without capital letters. Anglo on its own has a pejorative tone to it, but I have not seen people use franco in the same way. Instead the pejorative is frog.

    In Quebec, people are often described as Quebecois(e); one of my colleagues says that she has seen it used to denote all people living in Quebec or only those residents who were originally habitants (settlers). There are many many French speakers in Quebec from different French-speaking regions. The use of the term francophones is often used to describe the French speakers outside of Quebec or from these other French speaking communities.

    I stand to be corrected as the terminology has evolved. The bottom line though; this show caused a furor when it aired.

    If I may be so bold, RR readers may be also interested in knowing about a child custody case where two children were apprehended by child protection workers after one child came to school with swatikas and other supremacist symbols. The mother maintains she has the right to bring her children up the way she sees fit, even if means inculcating the children with racist attitudes. The school girl reported to social workers all manner of racist beliefs, which I won’t repeat here. CBC has coverage here http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2009/05/27/mb-custody-hearing-swastika.html Please note that comments have been turned off on all stories relating to this custody hearing.

  4. I’m a Montrealer and, according to some, a Québécois. To others, I will never be one. But that’s another story.

    I will confirm much of what pinkpoppies said about the use of “anglo” and “franco” and so on.

    While I sympathize with much of the sentiment surrounding the disappearing Quebec identity and language, too often this is used as an excuse to say or do anything they want, despite the changing demographics (which isn’t going the way many of the people here want, BTW). If you attack what they say, too often you will be met with “you’re trying to attack my culture” or if you an an anglophone, “you’re just a politically correct anglo”. And then you are summarily dismissed.

    I realize that English Canada has much to answer for as well, but that’s the type of thing you face here. There were many that were outraged by RBO’s show, but there are at least as many that would downplay it for all the reasons that we at RR know about PLUS the cultural protectionism angle.

  5. Coming out of the closet…

    As a bilingual Montrealer and contributor to this blog, I am intrigued by pinkpoppies’s and Alston’s comments re francos, anglos etc. I did not see anything in the linked report that has very much to do with all of that (apart from the fact that the show made fun of anglophones – which incidentally is the PC term for what are more commonly referred to as Anglais, i.e inhabitants of Quebec whose first language is English. Those outside Quebec tend to be called Canadiens, as if the French-speaking Quebecers did not have the same citizenship).

    There is an implication in what is being said that we could not expect anything else from this show because all Québécois are racist (and for me, the term obviously means those who can trace their roots back to France, and possibly those who have been French-speaking for several generations, whatever their origin).

    Personally, I believe that the cultural protectionism is a racist policy in itself. As a relative newcomer to Quebec, it is obvious to me that the province is French-speaking first and foremost, and even multicultural Montreal remains so. This has not come without work on the part of the francophone community over the last 30 years, and I applaud them for their efforts. However, the petty bureaucracy that shores up the policies and the biased media coverage (from both the francophone and anglophone press) continue to “otherise” all non Québécois (according to above definition), and most especially those who do not speak excusively French.

    From this point of view, it is understandable (though not forgivable) that many people should consider those who are even more “other” to be an easy target for ridicule and belittling. Let us not forget that the greatest evil is systemic racism.

    The media have a responsibility to accurately portray the society we live in. The CRTC were absolutely right to slam Radio-Canada for allowing this drivel to pass.

    More on the swastika girl in a separate comment…

  6. I believe the swastika girl story is the follow-up on my blog post of last year: https://resistracism.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/children-seized-from-neo-nazi-father/
    but I can’t be sure since the link I quoted in the post is no longer valid.

    I am appalled that no charges have been laid with regard to inciting racial hatred as mentioned in my post. To treat this as part of a state custody hearing is belittling the cause once again. I believe they should be two very different cases.

    Back into my closet now.

  7. Yes, I believe the current swastika girl story is the continuation of the swastika girl story from last year (unless there were two different swastika girls from Winnipeg that were taken away from their parents and nobody noted the similarities between the two instances).

  8. I was just responding to psychobabble’s question re: anglophones. Of course, then I just went on as I usually do with TMI.

    And don’t go back in the closet Sinoangle. Your observation about the swastika girl case is exactly what I feel: there are multiple issues and submerging them in a custody case is an example of diminishment of racism.

    I am fascinated that the media reports have not covered the fact that Manitoba has a significant aboriginal community. While the white supremacy narrative usually focuses on black as other, what does white supremacy mean in the context of Canada’s native peoples and long term genocidal practices that are both community and institutionally based?

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