Quebec Press Council upholds complaint over question to Blanchet at leaders debate

MONTREAL — The Quebec Press Council has upheld a complaint regarding a question the moderator asked Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet during the English-language federal leaders debate last year.

The complaint was lodged against moderator Shachi Kurl and the CBC, one of the networks that broadcast the debate, by Julie Lapierre the day after the Sept. 9, 2021, debate.

In her first question to Blanchet, Kurl described two Quebec laws — one restricting the wearing of religious symbols by certain government employees, the other a language law reform — as "discriminatory" and noted Blanchet had denied "Quebec has problems with racism."

The moderator was referring to Quebec's secularism law, Bill 21, and to language legislation that was still before the legislature at the time of the debate and became law in June 2022.

The council, which hears complaints about Quebec media coverage but has no coercive powers, determined that the term "racism" used in this context was an opinion and not a fact.

In her complaint, Lapierre alleged bias, discrimination and lack of respect for privacy and dignity.

The council decision states that it considers debate moderators to be practising fact-based journalism and noted the news media that broadcast the debate said they had approved the moderator's questions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2022.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press