The complainant thought a story about Montreal declaring itself a sanctuary city lacked balance and did not provide enough information.
By Esther Enkin, CBC Ombudsman
The complainant, Steven Austin, thought a story about Montreal declaring itself a sanctuary city lacked balance and did not provide enough information. I agreed that only one perspective was presented and it should have provided more.
You thought a story that aired on The National on February 20, 2017 concerning Montreal city council declaring itself a “sanctuary city” lacked balance. You said you believed there were many Canadians who oppose the concept of sanctuary cities, and that none of those voices were present in the report. The only critical presence came through a statement from U.S. President Donald Trump who criticized American cities which have declared themselves sanctuary cities for undocumented refugees. The term is understood to mean that undocumented people would have access to city services. You pointed out that criticism of the Montreal decision came from advocates who thought the city had not gone far enough. You characterized the vote in Montreal as a “reckless and defiant action that can and will breed lawlessness.” You felt said the reporter Alison Northcott should have done more research and “covered all aspects of the debate and potential dangers of sanctuary cities.”
The Executive Producer of The National, Don Spandier, replied to your concerns. He told you that the purpose of the story was to “explain the situation in Montreal. He mentioned this included “interviews with Mayor Denis Coderre, people who would be personally affected by the designation, as well as providing the viewpoint of some opposed to the action of the city.”
He informed you that he appreciated your suggestion to go into more depth about the issue, but that “it is often the case in our news coverage that we do not explore an issue as fully as some viewers would like.”