Avery Haines: One More Victim of Political Correctnes
"Broadcaster Avery Haines is one more victim of the Stalinist reign of political correctness that is choking this country," says civil libertarian Paul Fromm, Director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression.

The TV NewsNet anchorwoman was fired January 17 for comments she made off-air during the taping of a news story on January 15. Haines had stuttered and flubbed an introduction to a story about farmers. Poking fun at herself, she'd said: "We've got a stuttering newscaster. We've got the black, we've got the woman, I could be a lesbian, folk-dancing, black woman stutterer." Despite an abject apology for her off-air comments, Haines was fired by CTV senior vice-president Henry Kowalski, who preached: "The public must know that CTV takes this kind of behaviour as absolutely unacceptable." (Toronto Sun, January 18, 2000)

"The Canadian Association for Free Expression condemns the snivelling cowardice of CTV which ought to welcome a diversity of opinion," said Fromm. "The media, which should be an outlet for lively debate, is increasingly the enforcers for dreary thought control, unknown since the dark days of Stalinist Russia," he added.

"Haines comments were joking self-criticism. They were made off air and never meant to be broadcast. However, even if they had been meant for broadcast, so what? No one denies that 'employment equity' has meant preference for a growing variety of privileged minorities," said Fromm. "Somehow, though, we're not supposed to notice. Like the servile subjects in the story The Emperor's New Clothes, we supposed to cheer wildly the emperor's new outfit and not notice that he is, in fact, buck naked."

"We're urging our supporters to contact CTV and let them know their views in no uncertain terms," said Fromm.

Canadians overwhelmingly reject this brain choking censorship. The Toronto Sun (January 18, 2000) reported: "About two-thirds of more than 3,500 respondents to CANOE on-line poll yesterday said she should not have fired." On January 19, Fromm was interviewed on the Gord Harris show on CFPL Radio in London, Ontario. All but two callers opposed Haines firing.

One of the callers supporting the silencing of Avery Haines was Moy Tam, executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, which is taxpayer funded. While she praised CTV's firing of Haines, she advocated even tighter thought control: "Tam said the comments would still have been offensive had they been made off camera and urged CTV to ensure such attitudes aren't part of the newsroom culture. 'If the remarks were made off air, would she have stayed on?'" (Toronto Sun, January 18, 2000)

"It's depressing to see some Canadian media executives so eager to act as the enforcers for politically correct thought control," said Fromm