Opposition MLAs in Alberta are calling for the resignation of the province's culture minister over his description of Canadian television productions as "crap."
Speaking to a panel of industry insiders at the Banff World Television Festival on Monday, Alberta Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett dismissed the quality of locally produced television programming as "shit."
"I sit here as a government representative for film and television in the province of Alberta, and I look at what we produce, and if we're honest with ourselves … I look at it and say, 'Why do I produce so much shit? Why do I fund so much crap?'" said Blackett — who was not a panel member — during a question and answer session.
Alberta Liberal critic for culture and community spirit Laurie Blakeman said Thursday if Blackett cannot support and promote an industry so important to his portfolio, he should step down.
"If the minister of education said our teachers were crap, that minister would be fired," Blakeman said. "If the minister of energy said that the oilsands were crap, you can bet that minister would be sitting on the backbenches faster than the minister of culture and community spirit can think of something stupid to say."
'I apologize for that if I offended anyone, but I think in the context that we can expect better than sub-standard stuff.'—Lindsay Blackett, Alberta culture minister
NDP MLA Rachel Notley also called for the minister's resignation.
But Premier Ed Stelmach said he is confident about Blackett's dedication to and passion for his portfolio, said Cam Hantiuk, a spokesman with the premier's office.
"It certainly doesn't warrant the type of overreaction that some people are suggesting," said Hantiuk.
Blackett said Wednesday he regretted his crude choice of words, but stood behind the overall sentiment: "I apologize for that if I offended anyone, but I think in the context that we can expect better than sub-standard stuff, yeah, of course we should.
Blackett's comments elicited reactions from television actors, directors and producers all across Canada.
"I find that a lot of Canadian TV and film is trying to follow the Hollywood model of popularity, when you really can't without the star system and the money," said Calgary-based filmmaker Gary Burns.