CHUM apologizes for Conan's Quebec sketch

MPs outraged over U.S. comedy sketch ridiculing French Canadians, CHUM TV issues apology for airing it.

A Canadian television network issued an apology Friday for broadcasting a U.S. show's comedy routine that ridiculed French Canadians.

CHUM Television said the segment will be removed when NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien is shown again Friday night on the specialty channel, Star.

"We offer our apology and assurance that it is never our intention to air programming that offends any of our viewers," CHUM said in a statement Friday afternoon.

"CHUM regrets any offence that was caused."

'Vile hate-mongering': McDonough

Earlier in the day, several members of Parliament expressed outrage over the segment, and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty distanced his government from the comedy sketch.

"I think it was vile and vicious. I think it amounts to hate-mongering," said NDP MP Alexa McDonough. She demanded the federal government get its subsidy back from the U.S. network.

Ottawa and the province gave NBC about $1 million to help pay for O'Brien's show to come to Toronto for a week to try to boost tourism after last year's SARS outbreak.

"The Conan O'Brien show does not speak for Ontarians," said Premier McGuinty. "Ontarians have a wonderful relationship with the people of Quebec."

McGuinty said he doesn't regret helping bring the program to Toronto, but emphasized that the government's role is limited. "We don't control the content of these shows."

'Completely unacceptable': Harper

The sketch, which first aired Thursday night, featured a sarcastic puppet called Triumph the Insult Dog that made fun of francophones at the Quebec winter carnival.

"So you're French and Canadian, yes? So you're obnoxious and dull," the puppet said to one passerby. "You're in North America, learn the language," he bellowed at another.

"This is the place where our country was founded nearly 400 years ago," said Alberta MP Stephen Harper during a trip to Montreal. He's campaigning for the leadership of the new Conservative party.

"We can all make jokes about each other but you don't start telling people in Quebec they have to speak another language. That's completely unacceptable."

The federal government did not defend the comedy segment. Deputy government house leader Mauril Bélanger said he did not find any of it funny.

"We want to disassociate ourselves from the comments which were broadcast last night because we do not support them in any way," Bélanger said.