TORONTO — The CBC apologized Tuesday in the wake of accusations of inaccuracies in its docu-drama “Canada: The Story of Us.”
Politicians in Quebec and Nova Scotia are among those who have complained about the facts in the 10-hour series, which premiered on March 26.
“Whenever you recount a country’s history, there will inevitably be citizens, historians and politicians who will have different points of view, and that’s certainly been the case with ‘Canada: The Story of Us,”’ CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson said in a statement.
“After the first two episodes, some people felt misrepresented and for that, we apologize. We fully recognize that not everyone will agree with every perspective presented. Our intention was never to offend anyone or any group, nor diminish the importance of any of the stories that were not included.”
Thompson added the CBC is listening to feedback on the series and is planning to host live digital conversations about it. The first conversation will take place online on the show’s website, in English and French, after the next episode airs on April 18.
Thompson said each broadcast will also include the perspectives of those who have sent emails, called in, or posted on social media with criticism.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said the show was wrong to assert that the country’s first permanent European settlement was established in 1608 near what is now Quebec City. McNeil said the history of Canada started three years earlier, when French explorer Samuel de Champlain founded a settlement at Port Royal, N.S., which is part of his riding.
Bill MacDonald, the mayor of Annapolis Royal, N.S., also denounced the show as a disrespectful and erroneous version of what really happened when Europeans first settled in Canada.
In an interview Tuesday, MacDonald said that history has been misrepresented and CBC does not plan to do an episode of the events leading up to Champlain arriving and establishing Quebec City.
“It’s been clarified by Mr. Thompson, who has issued that apology, that it was to those who felt misrepresented,” MacDonald said. “My concern — and the concern to many here in Nova Scotia — was not that we were misrepresented, we were just completely omitted from the story.”
Criticism of the show also surfaced in Quebec’s legislature last week when the Opposition Parti Quebecois blasted the series during question period.
“With its cliches, its omissions, its bias, ‘The Story of Us’ will do nothing to improve the knowledge of our history,” said PQ member Stephane Bergeron. “On the contrary it will foster offensive prejudice.”
His colleague, Agnes Maltais, said the history of First Nations, Acadians and Quebecers deserved better than “this contemptuous commentary.”
Quebec Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Fournier later said the CBC should apologize for the series.
“Those who conceived this series did not factor in all the elements of Canada’s DNA,” Fournier told reporters.