Canada's Romani community holds protest opposing Sun Media Corp.'s 'must-carry' application following Ezra Levant's hateful on-air comments
As CRTC hearings begin, racist rant compels community to call for rejection of the application
and demand the firing of the Sun News Network commentator
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
For Immediate Release
TORONTO - On the same day Sun Media Corp. presented its case to the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC) regarding a mandatory distribution licence, Canada's Romani community and supporters rallied today outside the CRTC's Toronto office to urge the national regulator to refuse Sun Media Corp.'s application and to demand the media outlet fire Ezra Levant following his nationally broadcasted xenophobic anti-Roma commentary on the Sun News Network.
"Ezra Levant not only viciously attacked and attempted to rob the Roma community of its dignity, he has also attacked many other communities in the past," said protest organizer Gina Csanyi-Robah, executive director of the Roma Community Centre. "Given that Sun Media appears unwilling to part ways with Levant after his hateful commentary, which would have been the ethical thing to do, the CRTC cannot reward his employer with the opportunity to invade Canadian homes and force Canadians to subsidize the media company some $18,000,000 so that he can expose our children and youth to further vile rants."
The Roma Community Centre invited Bernie M. Farber, human rights activist and former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, to speak at the demonstration. "Many of us remain very concerned that, notwithstanding the apology offered six months after the clearly hateful remarks made by Ezra Levant against the Roma community, the effects still linger," said Farber. "The CRTC must carefully determine, given the Sun News record, whether it is in Canadian broadcasting's best interests to grant its request for a basic cable licence."
Canadian-Romani jazz musician and community activist Robi Botos also spoke at the protest.
"As a musician, I have travelled all over the world and I have praised Canada everywhere I have been," said Botos. "I used to be proud telling people how I don't face racism in Canada. That changed last September. I was with my family at home and watched Ezra Levant's racist rant on TV. I have never felt so disappointed since I have been in this country. I didn't know what to tell my children, they were shocked. You cannot promote hatred in Canada, especially not on national television."
Former Member of Parliament Borys Wrzesnewskyj also addressed the gathered crowd.
Although Mr. Levant has formally 'apologized' for his on-air comments, only after intense legal and public pressure, the Romani community has rejected the apology because Mr. Levant has continued to use the discriminatory term 'Gypsy' in reference to the community. The apology seems to have been conditioned more by Sun Media Corp.'s 'mandatory distribution' application, rather than a sincere change of heart by Mr. Levant. Mr. Levant continues to spew hatred and vitriol against other communities as well, including indigenous people in this country.
On Sept. 5, 2012, Mr. Levant made the following malicious comments broadcasted live throughout Canada on the Sun News Network (full transcript attached):
“Gypsies aren't a race, they aren't a religion, they aren't a linguistic group. They're the medieval prototype of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a shiftless group of hobos that doesn't believe in property rights for themselves - they're nomads - or for others, they rob people blind! (00:00:09.60)
"Let me stop before you start blowing your hate crime whistle at me for saying Gypsy or gypped. See, political correctness and euphemisms like calling them 'Roma' instead of Gypsy or as the BBC calls them
'Travelers,' well the point of that is to obscure the truth. They're Gypsies and one of the central characteristics of that culture is that their chief economy is theft and begging." (00:58-01:19).
“Being Gypsy isn't like being Black, or being gay, or being a woman, or even Romanian, where many Gypsies come from - just like being from Sicily doesn't make you part of the Mafia. Being Gypsy is a positive choice. Like being a Blood or a Crip. Like joining the Cosa Nostra. For centuries these roving highway gangs have mocked the law and robbed their way across Europe.” (00:07:43.41)
“Yeah. No thanks. I'm not interested in calling them Roma, or Travellers, or having a Human Rights Commission investigate what we as a society have done them wrong and maybe dispatching social workers to them. Hah! The social workers will just have their wallets stolen.” (00:08:14.58)
For more information, please contact:
Executive Director, Roma Community Centre
Tel.: (416) 561-0770