A group of city councillors and other London public figures announced Thursday that they will no longer appear on the Newstalk 1290 show The Live Drive with Andy Oudman, citing sexist behaviour and bullying.
The announcement was made in an open letter addressed to the city of London. The signatories were:
- Anna Hopkins, councillor for Ward Nine
- Irene Mathyssen, NDP MP for London-Fanshawe
- Tanya Park, councillor for Ward 13
- Virginia Ridley, councillor for Ward 10
- Sheryl Rooth, chair of the London Transit Commission, writer and former Ward 4 candidate
- AnnaLise Trudell, a manager with Anova
- Anne-Marie Sanchez and Shawna Lewkowitz, on behalf of the Board of Women & Politics
- Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women's Centre
"As women leaders in the community, we have experienced harassment and verbal abuse by Andy Oudman on his CJBK radio show. Some of us have experienced this for years," they said.
They added that some signatories had brought up the behaviour with station management before, but that they did not feel it was fully addressed.
They said that until Bell Media ensures that women 'are treated with respect,' they will no longer appear on CJBK between 3 and 6 p.m.
Five male councillors have also signed the letter. They are:
- Jesse Helmer, councillor for Ward 4
- Josh Morgan, councillor for Ward 7
- Mo Salih, councillor for Ward 3
- Stephen Turner, councillor for Ward 11
- Jared Zaifman, councillor for Ward 14
'Child abuse' comment a sticking point
Councillor Tanya Park says that although she's never appeared on Oudman's show herself, she was the topic of discussion in a segment last Friday. Oudman and a guest speculated about her decision not to run for re-election in the fall.
"There was a guest on-air who was launching personal attacks on me, and in my opinion the host did nothing to wave the conversation in a more professional area," said Park.
"He egged him on as far as I'm concerned."
Park pointed to another on-air incident, where she said Oudman called Councillor Virginia Ridley's 2016 decision to bring her kid to a council meeting 'child abuse.'
"[He said] the Children's Aid should be called on that individual. I viewed that as entirely inappropriate," she said.
NDP MP Irene Mathyssen said that comments like Oudman's 'child abuse' quip are part of the reason that many women don't enter politics, or wind up leaving the field prematurely.
"To do that says women don't belong, and it gives permission to abuse and that's not acceptable," she said.
Mathyssen herself stopped appearing on Oudman's show four years ago, and told her staff at that time that she would no longer accept his calls.
Oudman's comments go beyond being provocative, and edge into bullying, Mathyssen said.
"He creates a situation where whoever is under attack is isolated, and that's the classic definition of bullying," the former teacher said, adding that this behaviour wouldn't be tolerated in a schoolyard.
She said she hopes to see both an apology and a stronger stance from Bell Media around acceptable on-air behaviour.
Oudman: Lessons learned in fairness, sensitivity
Oudman addressed the open letter on his show Thursday afternoon.
"I'm passionate about what I do and from time to time I can get caught up in the moment. But there is a line and it was crossed. After reflecting on my behaviour I realize I needed to reach out directly to the women I've offended to apologize, and I have," said Oudman, adding that he and his show will be fairer and more sensitive going forward.
In an email statement, Steve Young, director of news and information programming for Bell Media London, said that management had discussed Oudman's comments and reiterated the station's on-air code of conduct with him.
Young added that Oudman has taken responsibility for his actions by apologizing on-air and reaching out to the guests affected.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Megan Walker said they do not accept the apology.
"Bell Media is addressing his behaviour as an isolated incident. It is not. There is a years' long pattern of this behaviour," she said in an email statement.
Councillor Josh Morgan, who signed the letter as an 'ally,' said he's pleased to see an apology, but will defer to his female colleagues in deciding whether or not to re-appear on the show.
"I will be continuing to support them by listening to what resolution is satisfactory to them and what needs to be done," he said.