Quebec school board wants ‘vigilance’ when bus drivers listen to talk radio
MONTREAL — A Quebec City school board stepped back Tuesday from an earlier decision to prohibit bus drivers from listening to the city’s contentious talk radio stations on the job.
In a news release, the board said its earlier note to drivers was “clumsy.”
It is now asking them to show “vigilance” in order to avoid exposing children to what it called inappropriate language and subjects.
The shooting deaths of six people in a mosque in the city on Jan. 29 sparked renewed accusations against Quebec City’s talk radio stations that they foment intolerance toward Muslims.
One of the city’s popular stations, Radio X, published on its website an email, dated last Friday, which the school board sent to bus companies. In the note, drivers are ordered to not listen to talk radio because it is considered bad for kids.
“The messages broadcast are not appropriate for children and do not correspond to the values we want to be sending,” read the email, first obtained by Radio X host Dominic Maurais.
“We are asking you to take steps to inform your drivers that only music radio stations are authorized in school vehicles when children are present.”
Maurais told his listeners Tuesday his values are rigour and tolerance.
“My values are western values, of equality, of fraternity,” he said. “Are these not the values of the school board?
“In other words, these aren’t the values that are being taught to our kids in school — that’s unsettling.”
On Tuesday, the board published another release on its website claiming its prior “administrative note” was sent in response to a complaint from parents.
“This note suggested in a clumsy way that some radio stations should not be authorized,” said the statement.
“Rather, the intention is to appeal to drivers for vigilance and discernment in order to prevent children from being exposed to language or subjects less suitable to their young age.”
The board said it wouldn’t be giving interviews on the subject.
Since the shootings, Quebec City’s talk radio stations — most of which are right-leaning — have been targeted by politicians and others for allegedly creating an on-air environment that is hostile to Islam.
Most of the criticism hasn’t offered specific, current examples, however.
Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume, in the days following the tragedy, said he would do something in the near future about those who “enrich themselves on hatred.”
Talk radio hosts seized on Labeaume’s comments and have been taunting and criticizing him for the past week.
Quebec’s education minister said Tuesday he opposes what he called “censoring” school bus drivers.
“Not hearing anymore what is being said is not the best decision,” said Sebastien Proulx. “To want to censor groups, to me, is not the best way to bring people together.”
Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press
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