The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Communication (CRTC) overstepped its authority when they forced the state-subsidized Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to issue an apology over the use of the “n-word.”
During a segment aired in August 2020, two CBC hosts said the “n-word” in both French and English, for a total of 4 times. The CRTC then issued, on June 29, 2022, a decision requiring the Société Radio Canada, essentially the French version of CBC, “to provide a public written apology.”
“In addition, the Commission requires the SRC to report to the Commission, by no later than 27 September 2022, on internal measures and programming best practices that it will put in place to ensure that it better addresses similar issues in the future,” the Commission’s decision reads.
CBC reported that in response to the decision, “50 Radio-Canada personalities signed an open letter that appeared in La Presse claiming the decision threatened journalistic freedom and independence while opening the door to censorship and self-censorship.”
The office of the Attorney General of Canada now finds that the CRTC overstepped its authority when issuing the June 29 decision.
The Attorney General asked the Federal Court of Appeal to “set aside” the CRTC’s decision. A lawyer said it is unlikely that the Court of Appeal will go against the AG’s position, reportedly.
The CRTC is also, involuntarily, at the heart of another hot topic in Canadian politics, which is Bill C-11.
Bill C-11, an online regulation bill sponsored by Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, would essentially give the CRTC more power to censor and regulate the internet.
As the Senate of Canada explains, “Bill C-11 would give the CRTC new powers, including the ability to impose financial penalties against people and businesses that violate certain provisions of the Broadcasting Act or its regulations.”
University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, when discussing the bill, said that "This is government moving into an area where they are regulating the speech, frankly, of everyday users."