POLITICS

Tory MP Dan Albas: CBC's Stance On Charlie Hebdo Cartoons 'Concerning'

01/08/2015 03:30 EST | Updated 01/08/2015 03:59 EST
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A Conservative MP says CBC News' decision not to publish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad is "concerning" and could point to a double-standard.

Dan Albas, who represents the B.C. riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla, expressed those views in a blog posted to his website Wednesday after an attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo left 12 people dead, including four cartoonists.

The Paris paper's provocative cartoons of the Prophet were featured by some publications in Canada this week in a show of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and expression of free speech.

In a note published online Wednesday, CBC journalistic standards director David Studer argued the caricatures are "offensive to Muslims as a group" and did not need to be reprinted by the organization.

"We wouldn't have published these images before today — not out of fear, but out of respect for the sensibilities of the mass of Muslim believers,'' Studer said.

"Why would the actions of a gang of violent thugs force us to change that position?''

But Albas wrote that since it has been suggested the attack was "in retaliation to satirical cartoons involving Islam," he had concerns about those drawings "potentially being censored."

The MP also seemed to suggest CBC's stance was at odds with its long tradition of satire with shows like "This Hour Has 22 Minutes," the "Rick Mercer Report" and the "Royal Canadian Air Farce."

"It is in my view concerning if our national broadcaster arbitrarily decides that some faiths can be subject to comedic interpretation, whereas others are exempt or otherwise deemed to be 'off limits,'" he wrote. "It can, in effect create division and runs contrary to many of the values we hold dear."

This isn't the first time the CBC's treatment of a sensitive religious subject has caught the attention of a conservative politician.

In 2013, Tory MP Mike Wallace tabled petitions in the House of Commons from some of his Catholic constituents in Burlington, Ontario, calling for the CBC to lose its federal funding after a "22 Minutes" sketch poked fun at Catholic masses, The Chronicle Herald reported.

Wallace said at the time that while he wouldn't take a side on the matter, he thought his constituents had "a reasonable point."

Albas went on to write that while "immigration and integration" have helped build an inclusive, diverse country, "we have our own unique identity" as Canadians. Freedom, equality and democracy are the greatest threats to terrorists, he wrote.

The MP ended his piece saying that while there will be those who disagree with him, the events of this week mean Canadians should embrace their right to debate and disagree without fear.

And it appears Tory MP Peter Kent, who was a broadcast journalist before entering politics, is one such person who disagrees with his colleague.

Kent took to Twitter Thursday to express his support for the CBC's decision.

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