Radio-Canada: Religious Profiling?

November 2, 2006

RcIn today’s National Post, Montreal radio host Beryl Wajsman describes his encounter with a Radio-Canada reporter while rallying in support of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan:

"A radio reporter from the French language Radio-Canada asked us if our group was ‘against peace.’ In French, I explained we were demonstrating for our troops and for freedom, adding that our Prime Minister ‘had given this nation a brave and bold new vision and we should follow it.’ There was no talk of the Middle East or Iraq. Instead, we discussed Canada’s role on the international scene.

Suddenly, a propos of nothing I had said, she asked me if I was a Jew. ‘I’m a Canadian,’ I said. ‘And a democrat. I don’t define myself by religion.’

I then asked her what reason she had for this question. As a journalist and activist, I am often asked about my religion — but only by francophone reporters…

As it happened, we discovered from a quick head count, three out of the 12 of us were Jewish. ‘Does that make it a Jewish conspiracy?’ I asked her. She quickly terminated the interview, accusing me of prejudging her.

The weather was vile that day, but the sting of the reporter’s attitude hurt more than the wind and rain. I thought of the last ‘peace’ march that Montreal had hosted, on August 6. On that occasion, Quebec politicians and labour leaders marched in solidarity with thousands of pro-Hezbollah sympathizers. It was a march that specifically called for ‘peace in Lebanon and Palestine’ yet pointedly excluded ‘peace for Israel.’ (Of course, that didn’t stop Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe; or the PQ’s Andre Boisclair; or labour leader Henri Masse; or Denis Coderre, Michael Ignatieff’s Quebec lieutenant, from marching along. So perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised when Mr. Ignatieff started spouting off two months later about Israeli ‘war crimes.’)

Nobody in the mainstream Quebec media, including that CBC reporter, denounced any of this. Was I disappointed? Yes. Surprised? No. It’s all part of the ‘distinct society’ we call Quebec."


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