TORONTO, January 17, 2000 - Discriminatory comments made by a CTV NewsNet anchor on the weekend demonstrate that racism is still alive and well in Canadian broadcast journalism, says the executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.
"I find it disturbing that Avery Haines' remarks are only attracting attention because she was caught in the act," says Moy Tam. "Would CTV even consider apologizing for her comments if she had made them off the air?"
On Saturday, Ms. Haines stumbled through her lines while introducing a story about assistance to farmers. Not realizing she was still on the air, she then proceeded to make a series of discriminatory comments about blacks, Asians, women, lesbians and people with disabilities.
Tam says Haines' comments are doubly offensive because she made them on the eve of Martin Luther King's birthday, which is being celebrated today by both Americans and Canadians.
"CTV should take this opportunity to strongly disassociate itself from Ms. Haines' remarks and publicly demonstrate its commitment to diversity and employment equity. An apology from CTV would only be the first step. The network must also promise to adopt concrete measures to eliminate discrimination in the workplace and to provide genuine opportunities for visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples, and other target groups."
Journalism schools must also seize the opportunity to include diversity and anti-racism training in the curriculum, adds Tam. "Today's journalism students will be tomorrow's reporters, editors, anchors and producers. Ideally, they should start thinking about issues such as diversity early in their careers."
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (www.crr.ca) opened its doors in November, 1997. It operates at arm's length from the federal government and works at the forefront of efforts to combat racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canada.
The Foundation recently launched the largest anti-racism campaign of its kind in Canadian history. The Foundation and its partners are currently running 30 and 60-second television ads on both national and local television. Posters, stickers, a 30-minute video and a study guide will also be distributed throughout Canada.