'That won't happen again': City of Montreal apologizes for ad criticized for lack of diversity

The City of Montreal has apologized for a video, created to celebrate Montreal's identity, that only features what appear to be white people.

Posted Wednesday, the two-minute video was part of a campaign to get Montrealers to propose people, places and organizations they believe are vital to the city's cultural heritage.

It showed a man cross-country skiing on Mount Royal, artists who create murals and glass figurines, a priest and a bagel maker. They all appear to be white.

By mid-morning on Friday, the video had been taken down from the city's Facebook page and YouTube channel. It had more than 7,000 views on Facebook.

In a statement, the city said the criticism it received about the video prompted its removal from the internet.

"We sincerely apologize that the video did not sufficiently represent the values of inclusiveness and equality that the municipal administration and Montréal's population advocate," said Louis Beauchamp, director of the city's communications service.

The mayor personally apologized at City Hall on Friday afternoon. 

"They made a mistake, end of story," said Denis Coderre. "We're sorry, that won't happen again. If it happens again, I'll kick ass."

Swift criticism

The majority of the comments on the video were negative and pointed out the lack of diversity.

"I don't think this is portraying the same city I live in. It must be another Montreal," wrote Geneviève Vincent.

"It's such a shame that this video doesn't honour the many intercultural exchanges between Montrealers, from the diversity of flavours from here and abroad, to families that have crossed seas and wars to share their stories and their knowledge," wrote another commenter, André Ho.

A similar controversy erupted in November when a video advertisement for Montreal's 375th anniversary also only depicted white people.

Gilbert Rozon, who is in charge of the celebrations, quickly apologized for the ad and it was redone.