Heritage committee wants to see CBC over Story of Us 'mistakes'

The parliamentary standing committee on Canadian heritage has requested a meeting with CBC to explain the history miniseries' 'mistakes.'

Spokesperson said CBC will plan to meet with committee when invite is received

John Tutela and Laura Secord as depicted in CBC's heavily criticized miniseries Canada: A Story of Us. The parliamentary standing committee on Canadian heritage has requested a meeting with the public broadcaster to explain the show's 'mistakes.' (Bristow Global Media)

The controversy surrounding CBC's history miniseries Canada: The Story of Us continues, as the parliamentary standing committee on Canadian heritage has requested a meeting with the public broadcaster to explain the show's "mistakes."

The series has been blasted by viewers, including many notable politicians, particularly for snubbing Nova Scotia and for its portrayal of francophones. CBC apologized to those who "felt misrepresented" last week but said it won't be updating or correcting any of the episodes, as critics had called on it to do.

The motion for the meeting was put forward by Quebec NDP MP Pierre Nantel last Thursday and passed unanimously; the committee includes members from the Liberals, Conservatives and the NDP.

Emma Bédard, a spokesperson for CBC, said it is expecting an invitation to appear before the committee but haven't received it yet. "When we do, we will work with the committee to set a date," she said in an email. 

Andrew Chaplin, the committee's procedural clerk, is responsible for sending the invite. He told CBC News he won't be able to do that until the committee decides on when the CBC should appear. He expects the committee won't meet again until May.

It's not certain who would attend on the public broadcaster's behalf.

NDP MP calls mistake 'shocking'

Nantel said the meeting would be an opportunity for the public broadcaster to explain what happened and "make amends," ensuring it doesn't happen again.

"We must be able to acknowledge that a mistake was made, and this one was shocking," he said before the motion was voted on. "It can be argued that the production company made mistakes, but it was still our public broadcaster that endorsed that series, bought its first episode, and then the second and the third, and felt that it was fine."

The motion itself asks CBC to speak to its efforts to "ensure the representation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and of francophones" in regards to its programming for the country's 150th anniversary.

The miniseries is facing particular criticism for snubbing a small town in Nova Scotia and for its depiction of Francophones. (Bristow Global Media)

There were a few concerns that came up during the discussion.

Liberal MP and former broadcaster Seamus O'Regan said he was hesitant about "the state making programming decisions" but ended up voting in favour because of its talk about representation.

And Conservative MP Peter Van Loan said he was supporting the motion because he said the history series is what the public broadcaster should be doing.

"There has not been enough of this kind of programming and that's why people feel left out," he said, pre-vote. "I think they are talking about the things we should be talking about and focusing on the things we should be focusing on for the 150th."


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