Terry and I have been following the Don Cherry story this week, and he suggested I blog about it. But I couldn’t find the remotest arts angle to hang a post on. If you don’t know who Don Cherry is (think Canadian hockey) or don’t know about the events of the last week, Colby Cosh’s site is the best place to go to catch up.
Meanwhile, guess what? The Canadian government has handed me my arts angle on a silver platter. After the Conan O’Brien show taped in Toronto the last few days, with a Canadian government subsidy, Ottawa is scandalized by what they saw, and on the offensive:
Canada’s government on Friday condemned a show by U.S. late-night television host Conan O’Brien that insulted people in French-speaking Quebec and seemed to suggest everyone in the province was homosexual.
Ottawa and the province of Ontario paid $760,000 to help O’Brien–who appears on the NBC television network–bring his show to Toronto for a week to boost the city’s profile after a deadly SARS outbreak last year.
But the federal government said O’Brien had gone too far with the show broadcast on Thursday in which he went to Quebec, a province which has had separatist governments for much of the last 20 years and is a delicate political topic in Canada.
“We want to disassociate ourselves from the comments which were broadcast last night because we do not support them in any way,” junior government minister Mauril Belanger told Parliament.
At one point in the show, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog–a hand puppet that is a regular on the show–said to a Quebecer: “You’re French, you’re obnoxious and you no speekay English.” It told another: “I can smell your crotch from here.”
O’Brien’s team were also shown replacing street signs in the province with those that read “Quebecqueer Street” and “Rue des Pussies.”
Alexa McDonough, a legislator for the left-leaning New Democrats, described the program as “racist filth” and “utterly vile” and demanded the government seek the return of the C$1 million subsidy.
This is pretty surreal. To someone who has a soft spot for most all things Canadian, it’s also a glass of cold water in the face. Clearly a lot of the jokes that offended were allusions to the Cherry affair; as such, they seem at least as much aimed at Cherry as at the Qu