Canadian TV 'crap': Alberta culture minister

Alberta Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett is backpedalling after his disparaging comments about the quality of Canadian television sparked an outcry.
Alberta Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett's negative comments about the quality of Canadian television prompted an outcry. ((PC Association of Alberta))

Alberta Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett was backpedalling Wednesday after his disparaging comments about the quality of Canadian television sparked an outcry.

Blackett was listening to a panel discussion at the Banff World Television Festival on Monday when he made the remarks in a question and answer session.

"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?'" Blackett told the panel, to ripples of laughter.

"Why do the broadcasters not pick up more Canadian content? Because the Canadian content isn't what it should be," he continued.

The minister's comments quickly surfaced on the microblogging service Twitter, with many people criticizing Blackett.

"Stay classy, Blackett," wrote andrewhorton.

RedAloud said: "Really? Lindsay Blackett again? Hasn't this do-nothing for culture minister had enough mike time already?"

And matt_emerge said: "Come on Blackett, don't be a hater! Why not support the industry you are supposed to represent?"

Blackett later said Canadians make a lot of great programming, singling out the CBC program Heartland, which is produced in Alberta.

Canadian television industry insiders condemned Blackett's comments.

"The truth is we create amazing television that is enjoyed around the world, despite a swath of obstacles — one of the biggest being chronic underfunding," said Ferne Downey, president of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA).

"If provincial governments such as his ponied up and gave our industry the investment it deserves, it would go a long way towards helping talented people create fantastic content."

Zaib Shaikh, who stars on CBC's popular television comedy Little Mosque on the Prairie, said the minister's comments are troubling.

"And to have made such remarks at the Banff television festival, where the world comes to celebrate the international and Canadian TV industry, was even worse," Shaikh said.