'We've all expressed our opinions': Peter Mansbridge responds to cultural appropriation controversy

At a live panel discussion in Winnipeg on Wednesday, the CBC's Peter Mansbridge acknowledged the recent reassignment of the managing editor of The National, saying while it was a management decision, reporters had expressed concerns internally about Steve Ladurantaye's recent tweets.

Steve Ladurantaye no longer managing editor of The National after 'clearly inappropriate and hurtful remarks'

Peter Mansbridge on Steve Ladurantaye's move from The National 1:58

At a live panel discussion in Winnipeg on Wednesday, Peter Mansbridge, anchor of CBC's The National, acknowledged the recent reassignment of Steve Ladurantaye, saying while it was a management decision, reporters had expressed concerns internally about his recent tweets.

"The managing editor of The National, who was appointed about a month ago, made some clearly inappropriate and hurtful remarks on Twitter late last week about this issue of cultural appropriation," Mansbridge said.

"The CBC in its wisdom has decided after investigating and talking to the person in question and also to a lot of the people internally who were hurt by this and externally who were hurt … has decided to reassign that person."

The veteran broadcaster said Ladurantaye is also voluntarily taking a variety of different courses and meeting with Indigenous groups.

"We've all expressed our opinions on what happened internally, as we should, and beyond that it's a decision that the management at the CBC makes," he said, referring to management's decision to reassign Ladurantaye.

A former executive at Twitter, Ladurantaye tweeted support for an "appropriation prize" last week, causing an uproar in Canada's Indigenous community and the broader public. He has since apologized on both Twitter and to his colleagues at The National.

Duncan McCue on cultural appropriation in journalism 2:50

After Mansbridge's remarks, a member in the audience at Wednesday's discussion named Bill referenced a recent interview with Jesse Wente and asked the panellists, all veteran CBC reporters, how they approach the notion of cultural appropriation in their work.

Duncan McCue, investigative reporter and host of CBC Radio's Cross Country Checkup, said journalists should remain accountable to the Indigenous communities they cover.

"There is a long history of people coming into the community, whether it's missionaries, whether it's anthropologists, whether it's art dealers, the list goes on … coming into the community saying, 'I want to tell your story' or 'I want to share your fabulous art' or whatever, and taking it away," said McCue, who is Anishinaabe.

This has created a "historical distrust," he said, which means journalists have to work harder to be more transparent and respectful of the communities they are working in.​

Social media and 'fake news'

Along with discussions on cultural appropriation during the 90-minute event, the panel touched on a range of other issues, including how they use social media and the role journalists play in the era of Donald Trump and "fake news."

Diana Swain, former host of CBC News Winnipeg and now host of CBC News Network's The Investigators, said the world is seeing a renaissance of investigative journalism in response to doubts about what's fact or fiction.

news, morrellp 2:15

Audiences are demanding more proof what we say is true, Swain said.

"We have to double-down on the things that we already did," she said. "Our agenda is truth and believing in journalism."

Fake news allegations have made facts and data "cool," said CBC reporter Adrienne Arsenault, and that's to the benefit of journalists. 

"It has made this business so exciting because ... it's knocking a complacency out of the industry," she said.

"It is reminding people we have to be there for our viewers and listeners and readers truthfully on all the little things so that when the big things happen they know they can trust us."

CBC Washington correspondent Paul Hunter said in the end, strong journalism still has a power and responsibility to shine a light in dark places.

"This is an amazing time to be a journalist.… The muddier people make information, the more I believe people seek clarity."

The power of investigative journalism in the Trump era 6:18