Sun News has been ordered to tell its audience it violated Canadian broadcasters’ standards when host Ezra Levant told a Chiquita Banana executive to “f*ck his mother” in Spanish last December.
The Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council, a non-governmental industry body, told the fledgling news network it has to announce twice, during prime time, that it violated broadcasters’ ethical guidelines during a taping of the Levant-hosted The Source last December.
Like many supporters of the oilsands, Levant was upset at Chiquita Bananas’ announcement last fall that it is avoiding using oil derived from Alberta’s bitumen. Groups such as Ethical Oil called for a boycott of Chiquita, and pointed out the company’s allegedly poor ethical record over the years.
During a Dec. 22 broadcast, Levant railed against Chiquita Bananas, and told an executive of the company, who had a Hispanic name: “Chinga tu madre.” The words translate as “fuck your mother.”
After 22 complaints were filed with the CBSC over the incident, Levant argued on air and off that the word “chingar” could mean a number of different things, including “get lost” and “stop bothering me.” But, as the CBSC suggested in its ruling, only the most vulgar translation of the word makes sense in the context Levant used it.
The CBSC also noted that Levant’s attempts to debate the definition of chingar “only served to exacerbate the insult.”
This is not the first time the year-old Sun News has found itself accused of violating broadcast standards. Last year, the CBSC received a record 6,627 complaints about an interview carried out by host Krista Erickson in which she aggressively challenged a Quebec artist, Margie Gillis, to justify taking government grants for her work. The CBSC ruled in Sun News’ favour on that issue.
Sun News has received so many complaints about its coverage that it has begun to overwhelm the broadcast standards watchdog, news sources reported in January.
The segment begins with Sun News anchors Pat Bolland and Alex Pierson, who introduce the reaffirmation ceremony. "Ten new Canadians are taking their oath right now, here, at our Sun News studio in Toronto," says Pierson.
Citizenship Judge Aris Babikian opens the ceremony and speaks about the meaning of citizenship in Canada.
"Citizenship is much more than a list of things we are allowed to do," Babikian says.
"It is a covenant between indivduals and the country they share."
"By reciting the oath, you are telling your neighbours, colleagues and friends, that you want to join them in creating something great," the judge continues.
"This is not a promise to be entered into lightly or for selfish reasons," the judge says.
Judge Babikian then asks the assembled to reaffirm the oath of citizenship.
Raising their hands, the group repeats after the judge: "I swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors.."
"..and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen."
The group then repeats the oath in French.
Judge Babikan leads the group in an off-key rendition of O Canada.
The judge then gives a certificate to each of the 10 'new' Canadians. Says host Alex Pierson: "And congratulations to all the new Canadians here. Ten of you here at Sun News Network. Finally, Canadian citizens. Wonderful to have you."