Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Guy Fournier

Former CBC chairman should apologize: Lebanese community

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 20, 2006 | 3:50 PM ET

The man who filed a complaint against the former CBC chairman over comments he made about the sexual habits of the Lebanese is demanding Guy Fournier apologize in public for his remarks.

Fournier resigned as chairman of the CBC/Radio-Canada on Tuesday, after stirring public outrage with a column he penned in a Quebec gossip magazine, where he made fun of Lebanese sexuality and falsely stated that the Mideast country allows men to have sex with animals, as long as they're female.

The Lebanese community in Quebec was further offended when Fournier told the Montreal newspaper La Presse that he didn't understand what the fuss was about.

On Tuesday, he tendered his resignation to Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda, who said Fournier had lost the confidence of the Conservative government.

The gesture is not enough, said Alain-Michel Ayache, who is of Lebanese descent and a political science professor at l'Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

"It's disturbing for Quebec's image, and the CBC's image, that somebody at a high responsibility at the CBC, which is a professional corporation in journalism, to act in this regard," Ayache said.

The professor has hired a lawyer to file a formal complaint against TVA Publications, the company that publishes the gossip magazine 7 Jours, where Fournier's comments appeared. Ayache also wants Fournier to apologize.

"What we need is a public apology for the Lebanese community, which has not been done yet so far," Ayache said.

"It's a matter of principle, because as all communities, I doubt that any one would accept to be treated as animals."

Fournier, 75, has not commented on his resignation.

Fournier, an author, producer and journalist, was appointed by the previous Liberal government to the board of directors of CBC/Radio-Canada in February 2005 for a four-year term.

He became chairman the following September.

Until Prime Minister Stephen Harper appoints a replacement for Fournier, CBC president Robert Rabinovitch will be acting chairman.

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