Why wasn’t the debate broadcast in English?

Richard Therrien points out that TQS was the only “généraliste” (read: broadcast) network that didn’t broadcast the Quebec leaders’ debate last night.

Well, that’s not exactly true. CBC, CTV and Global didn’t broadcast it either, even though all three are based in Montreal and have a duty to the people to bring these kinds of things to them. So the question is: Why didn’t they? Why wasn’t the debate broadcast on the English networks?

The basic answer, of course, is that it was in French. Rebroadcasting it would have required simultaneous translation, and wouldn’t have had as much of an impact on the voters. But does that mean it’s irrelevant? Unlike the federal leaders’ debate, we don’t have an English version to turn to. That was it. Two hours at a table was all we would get of the leaders facing each other directly, of the networks showing political programming that wasn’t paid for by the parties or filtered through news anchors.

The other argument you could make is that those who wanted to watch the debate could just turn to RadCan or TVA. But if that’s the argument, why bother having “broadcast consortiums” at all? Why not just leave it to Télé-Québec and CBC?

What’s worse is that anglos with cable couldn’t watch the debate translated either. While RDI and LCN carried it live, CBC Newsworld and CTV Newsnet didn’t. Even CPAC didn’t carry it live, though they repeated it later (it’s not on their online schedule, so I can’t tell if it’s being repeated again).

Of course, you could also argue that anglos don’t matter because they’re all going to vote Liberal anyway. So perhaps nobody but me is going to be outraged that a million Quebecers are being left out of this entirely.

But it bothers me that not a single anglophone television network, even those specifically devoted to news, could be bothered to show two hours of a political debate that will affect how this province is governed over the coming years.

Was simulcasting House really more important?

UPDATE (Nov. 29): CTV’s Barry Wilson touches on the lack of an English debate, without saying why his station decided not to show the debate live (or taped, for that matter) with translation.

14 thoughts on “Why wasn’t the debate broadcast in English?

  1. Josh

    Rebroadcasting it would have required simultaneous translation, and wouldn’t have had as much of an impact on the voters. But does that mean it’s irrelevant?

    This debate was irrelevant in any language, simultaneously translated or not.

    In most elections, the no English coverage thing would’ve bothered me, but this time… meh. I find it hard to care about anything that’s happened in the campaign thus far. I suspect I am not alone.

  2. BruB

    I would like to hear other englos points of view on this. I don’t believe that ALL of the english community votes automatically for the Liberals, I have to think that some do vote ADQ (Action Dumont du Québec) and maybe, just maybe some lost soul may vote PQ :)

    Fagstein, yoU,re the one with the connections in the media. please tell us if you have any answers on why it wasn’t in english. Maybe they jsut don’t care who governs for them but I would like to believe that I’m wrong, I really wish I’m wrong and that the english community actually do care.

  3. Fagstein Post author

    I don’t have any special insight into management at CBC, CTV or Global. In any case, the reason they didn’t carry the debate isn’t complicated: They simply weren’t part of the consortium, and they decided that it would be simpler to just summarize the debate during the evening newscasts than carry it live.

  4. Jacques Martin

    80% et plus des Anglophones et des Allophones votent pour le Parti Libéral, que le candidat soit un humain ou un animal (un cochon peint en rouge comme le veut la formule) et ils votent “Non” à un référendum, peu importe la question. Ils n’ont pas besoin de débat en anglais. S’ils ne sont pas en mesure de comprendre le contenu du débat en français ou au moins tenter de reconnaître quels sont les chefs de parti qui n’appartiennent pas au Parti Libéral, ils peuvent se passer d’un débat en anglais. On pourrait imprimer d’avance le choix (Libéral) sur les bulletins de vote de plusieurs circonscriptions québécoises tant le résultat est prévisible. Besoin d’un débat anglais ? Aucunement. Et madame Marois aura appris l’anglais pour rien, car elle croyait qu’elle s’en servirait si elle était élue Première Ministre. Et ça n’arrivera pas.

  5. Jean Naimard

    There is no need for an english debate. The english will vote liberal no matter what! (Talk about ethnic votes!!!) So it would be wated energy for the liberal party to participate in such a thing, and a lost cause for the others.

  6. Louis Audet Gosselin

    I agree on the principle of having the debate broadcast by an english network, but this debate was so boring… I was very happy I could turn to This Hour has 22 Minutes, which was way more entertaining.

  7. wkh

    What’s worse is that anglos with cable couldn’t watch the debate translated either. While RDI and LCN carried it live, CBC Newsworld and CTV Newsnet didn’t.

    What fucked up cable do you have? I have all four of those channels.

    Oh you mean non-French comprehending anglos couldn’t watch the debate.

    Well fuck them. They should be in French class anyway. :-P (I am half joking).

    While I don’t believe the leaders should have had a debate in English necessarily, I am kind of going “wtf?” at the lack of media representation on this front. I mean really, we’ve had fights break out, arrests, arson, this election is waaaaay more interesting than either of the two preceeding it. ;-) You’d think the media would be on the drama factor if nothing else.

  8. Fagstein Post author

    But there wasn’t any live coverage of these events either. In fact, the last time I can remember Montreal stations interrupting regular programming for breaking news was the Dawson shooting.

    Our local television stations are local in name only.

  9. Y.T.

    You are right, Fagstein. At least CTV and Global have an economic motive for not serving the local community. But what excuse does CBC Montreal have for not showing the debate? What’s the point of having an English public broadcaster in Quebec if it doesn’t cover important things happening in Quebec? I bet every other CBC station in the country has covered every single leaders’ debate that has ever happened in its respective province.

    Ontario has TFO– maybe it’s time to start asking the Quebec government to start broadcasting an English version of Tele-Quebec? :)


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