Canada’s federal radio watchdog cited a CBC program in French for being “clearly offensive” after hosts used the n-word at least four times to describe the title of a book. 

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Broadcasting Decision 2022-175 found that the CBC segment broke the rules of the Broadcasting Act.

“It is clearly offensive. This does not meet the high programming standard set out in the Act,” commissioners ruled. 

“During the discussion the host and the commentator used the n-word four times, three times in French and one in English, in a segment of six minutes and 27 seconds.” 

The segment in question was broadcasted in 2020 on the Le 15-18 program and featured students from Concordia University discussing the book Negres Blances d’Amerique.

Written in 1968 by Front de libération du Québec extremist Pierre Vallieres, the book was republished in English with the title White N–s of North America.

“The Commission considers that by repeatedly mentioning the term Radio-Canada did not show sufficient respect and sensitivity to the communities affected by the term,” the ruling stated. 

The CRTC went on to cite the influence of the Black Lives Matter movement in its decision which ordered the CBC to formally apologize and change its policy.

“The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the wave of global protests following the death of George Floyd in May 2020 represent an axis of societal change that propelled public reflection on issues related to racism and systemic racism,” commissioners wrote. 

“Consequently following these events the use of the term has evolved in both French and English-language contexts and the Commission must take this into account in its analysis of the complaint. In light of these social changes the Commission considers that the social responsibilities of broadcasters surrounding the use of the n-word have increased. Broadcasters need to take a more sensitive look at the use of language.”

The controversial book title got former CBC host Wendy Mesley suspended from her program in 2020 after saying the title during a private interaction with coworkers. 

Last year, Mesley addressed her departure saying that her former employer offered no support during the public backlash. 

“The CBC did not offer me any public support. And I did not defend myself because I just wanted to return to work. In the midst of last year’s racial reckoning, I also felt it would have been wrong for me to play the victim card,” said Mesley. 

+ posts

Journalist and Senior Research Fellow

We’re asking readers, like you, to make a contribution in support of True North’s fact-based, independent journalism.

Unlike the mainstream media, True North isn’t getting a government bailout. Instead, we depend on the generosity of Canadians like you.

How can a media outlet be trusted to remain neutral and fair if they’re beneficiaries of a government handout? We don’t think they can.

This is why independent media in Canada is more important than ever. If you’re able, please make a tax-deductible donation to True North today. Thank you so much.