When the state company plays King Solomon

When the state corporation plays King Solomon


Undoubtedly inspired by King Solomon, Catherine Tait, CEO of Radio-Canada, has just rendered judgment in the “word in n” affair.

The public broadcaster will publicly apologize to Ricardo Lamour, even if the CRTC had “neither the authority nor the jurisdiction” to ask Radio-Canada for such a gesture. Any comparison is wrong, but how not to allude to Solomon who, faced with the impossibility of establishing the truth in a dispute, divided the wrongs between the parties or put them in a situation which obliged at least one of them to change your mind. Like Madame Tait. 

Coincidentally, the day she announced her decision, Michaëlle Jean, former Radio-Canada anchor, former Governor General and former Secretary General of La Francophonie, splits into La Presse+ a long paper, a bit ambiguous, on the use of the word “negro”. She allows herself to recall a forgotten film by her husband Jean-Daniel Lafond, entitled The Negro Manner.


It should be remembered that this saga which gave rise to the astonishing decision of the CRTC starts from a simple column by Simon Jodoin at the radio broadcast Le 15-18 of August 17, 2020. In a context as thoughtful as it is serious, Annie Desrochers and her columnist had mentioned four times the title of Pierre Vallières' book, Nègres blancs d' America. It is for this reason that Ricardo Lamour had filed a complaint with Radio-Canada. When the broadcaster did not comply, the activist (who continues to be maliciously and unfairly attacked on social networks) contacted the CRTC.

If Ms. Tait pronounced this Solomonic judgment, it was because she could not fault the legion of journalists and public figures who had defended freedom of expression, including several members of the management and some French-speaking administrators. from CBC/Radio-Canada. Apologizing to the plaintiff also gives satisfaction to English speakers at the CBC, whose intransigence over the “n-word”, even if she had uttered it in a work meeting, had cost Wendy Mesley, in June 2020 , her role as host on The Weekly with Wendy Mesley. After an apology, she finally quit her job as a journalist.


It's ironic that Radio-Canada is making a public apology in a questionable affair, when it kept in its employ for years the ineffable Don Cherry, who said worse than to hang on Quebecers, who denied climate change and who blamed the Chretien government for refusing to fight in Iraq with the United States. It was Sportsnet that ended up giving Cherry his 4% after he scolded immigrants not wearing the poppy.

The CBC has never apologized for Don Cherry. The public broadcaster has also never apologized for the dozens of allegations, never substantiated, made in its shows Enquête or Fifth Estate. Rather than asking Mario Clément to apologize for having publicly decried the miniseries Félix Leclerc* which was just beginning on the air, Radio-Canada spent more than a million dollars in fees and compensation to defend its program director. However, according to Judge Claude Wagner, he had “committed an abuse of rights” and had engaged in “a settlement of scores that was as unexpected as it was reprehensible”.

The “word in n” will have- Will he finally get the better of the arrogant superb of our public broadcaster? 

*Note: This series was produced by Marie-José Raymond, my sister-in-law, and Claude Fournier, my twin brother. 

 When the state corporation plays King Solomon