The complainant, Chuck Erlichman, thought an article about the issue of property rights in relation to the shooting of a young Indigenous man was irresponsible and could fan racist sentiment. The story was flawed but publishing an article addressing the issue was not in and of itself a violation of policy.
In August of this year, a young First Nations man was shot and killed on a farm near Biggar, Saskatchewan. The farmer has been charged with murder. The incident has provoked strong community reaction. On August 12, three days after the shooting, CBC News in Saskatchewan published an online article entitled “Deadly shooting near Biggar, Sask. sparks debate over right to defend.” You felt the article was “irresponsible and damaging.” You thought it was reckless to publish an article which explored the concept of the “right to defend” because there was nothing in the reporting to date about this incident that would suggest that it was a factor in the shooting. On the contrary, you stated there were three witnesses who said the dead man had driven his car onto Gordon Stanley’s farm seeking help. You added:
The article, whether intended or not, is framing this murder as defence of property. This is irresponsible and not based in fact. Clearly CBC Saskatoon does not have enough facts to make that claim and the story goes against its own reporting of the events in question. I’m sickened to see CBC Saskatoon incite and exacerbate racist fear in this way.
The event had stimulated a lot of discussion on various social media platforms. You questioned why a responsible media organization like CBC would feel it had to respond to uninformed comments, and risk giving credibility to false and racist statements. This was a very sensitive story and it deserved more equitable treatment.