The Breakfast Table

Dr. Laura’s Canada Problem

After that nightmare flight, you’re probably not going to be up for more than a few grunts from behind a newspaper this breakfast. Everything is OK here, although once again I do find myself wondering how you manage to get any work done at all from home (never mind all the work you do). After rousing the kids, breakfasting them, overseeing Miranda making lunch, getting talked into letting her make dinner (tacos), driving them to school, walking the dog to exhaustion, I am ready for lunch, not writing. On the other hand, I don’t dare move out of this chair, because every time I shift, Cobber leaps to his paws.

Anyway, quite a lot in the papers this morning, including our beloved National Post, which reports that the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has censured Dr. Laura for condemning homosexuality on air as (among other things) “aberrant” and “dysfunctional.” The CBSC was last in the news when it weighed–although it ultimately rejected–a complaint that Bugs Bunny showed insufficient respect to women. The censure carries weight: All Canadian radio stations that carry Dr. Laura’s show are obliged to report the censure; the TALK 640 station in Toronto has formally apologized on her behalf, although it won’t drop her show. Behind the CSBC stands the broadcasters’ real regulator, the CRTC, which could in theory remove the license of any station that chose to tell the CSBC to blow its censures out its ear. You’ll remember that the one-two punch of the CBSC and the CRTC forced the CTV network (then the biggest private broadcaster in Canada) to drop Rush Limbaugh’s TV program.

How to react? Well, on the one hand, there’s dismay at the appalling double standards of Canadian public life (e.g., only last month a group of radical feminists vandalized the Catholic cathedral in downtown Montreal and stole the altar cloths; although at least half a dozen serious criminal charges were available–including theft–they were charged only with unlawful assembly to disturb the peace, the mildest charge available). There’s head-shaking at the way in which speech and broadcast is policed in Canada (“We respect freedom of speech but do not worship it,” the CSBC observed in its ruling–but in practice the Canadian authorities do neither). But why start the day on a downer? Let’s just take pleasure in watching yet another stereotype be proven true: Just as it’s funny to see a Frenchman walking down the street with a beret on his head and a baguette under his arm or a German customs official being pedantic and overbearing, so there’s something reassuring about Canadians acting … exactly like Canadians.