‘Who are you calling dumb?’ – Nov 14 2019

Following the federal election, the National NewsMedia Council received a complaint about a reprinted opinion article that referred to Western separation as a “dumb” idea.

The complainant stated that the article failed to provide reasons that Western Canada is unhappy, and objected to their being described as “dumb” for wanting to separate from a federal relationship that he argued isn’t working.

The NewsMedia Council responded to the complaint by stating as a general principle that opinion articles are allowed to express unpopular or partisan views. It noted that providing strongly stated, even sometimes unpopular opinions, can facilitate public dialogue on important issues.

In this case, the NNC pointed out that the columnist did not direct qualifiers, such as ‘dumb’, to the residents of Alberta. A thorough reading of the article revealed that the columnist’s comments were directed to the limitations of Alberta separating from Canada, and outlined his reasons to deem separation as one of the ‘dumbest’ notions.

For this reason, the NewsMedia Council found no breach of journalistic practice or ethics and no grounds for a complaint.