Two radio hosts apologized Thursday after making “inappropriate comments” about Mayor Catherine Fournier, who revealed on Tuesday that she was the one who was sexually assaulted in 2017 by former PQ Harold LeBel.
“If I have a colleague who looks like Catherine Fournier, let’s have drinks together in my apartment all evening, and I invite her to come over to my sofa bed, to share my bed when there is another bedroom, then she says yes, I might try it. If she says no, we stop, but it may well be that I try myself, ”host Simon Tremblay first said on Tuesday, on the airwaves of the KYK station.
At one point in the exchange, he asks what Ms. Fournier was “doing” at Mr. LeBel’s residence at the time of the sexual assault. “Imagine the party. He, there, he has just separated with his wife, and his most beautiful colleague arrives in his bed when he has the face of a monkey’s ass, ”continues Mr. Tremblay.
By email, the Cogeco group explained Thursday that its employee had “made inappropriate remarks”. “The host recognizes that he lacked rigor, hindsight and information when making his comments. Cogeco Media condemns his remarks. This type of comment has absolutely no place on the airwaves,” said the group’s senior director of communications, Christine Dicaire.
She also maintains that “Simon Tremblay apologized personally to Catherine Fournier, which she accepted. The main interested party also issued a public apology on the air, around 11 a.m. Thursday. For the rest, “the disciplinary measures taken will remain internal,” said Ms. Dicaire, however, without going any further.
On Instagram on Thursday, Mayor Fournier wondered if “we still tolerate this kind of talk on our airwaves in 2023? “. “I confirm that I have received an apology from Simon Tremblay. I accepted them by making him aware of the effects of such comments on victims of sexual assault. He told me that he sincerely regretted his remarks and that he had understood several things by watching the documentary in which I participated, ”she reacted in writing on Thursday.
Earlier, popular host Guy A. Lepage called on his Twitter followers to write to Cogeco communications, calling it a “cellar comment.”
Mr. Tremblay’s comments are in addition to those made Wednesday morning by host Monika Bourgeois on the airwaves of CFYX, a radio station in Rimouski, which also caused a strong reaction. “When you leave, take your shower before you go to bed… If you don’t feel like it, you organize yourself so as not to smell good,” the host said then, speaking of Catherine Fournier.
His comments immediately sparked controversy, with several local officials announcing that they would boycott the station until “huge fixes are in order.” The prefect of the MRC, Bruno Paradis, also strongly condemned the situation.
“It is imperative to put an end to this culture of intimidation, defamation and denigration towards the victims of sexual assault”, for example hammered the municipal councilor in Rimouski, Sébastien Bolduc. “Free speech has a broad back. This type of journalism is toxic,” said Councilor Julie Carré.
On the air, Monika Bourgeois admitted Thursday “to have exceeded certain limits”, admitting that her remarks “just had no place”. “I want to apologize deeply and sincerely and directly to Catherine Fournier, but also to anyone who may have been offended by the comments I made,” she said.
In a statement, the Network of Crime Victims Assistance Centers (CAVAC) recalled Thursday that “no matter how a person is dressed, whether they have chosen to go to the aggressor in full Willingly and regardless of the expectations that the latter may have, the responsibility for a sexual assault does not rest in any case with the victim”. “In 80 to 85% of cases, the [victim] freezes at the moment of the event rather than fleeing or fighting,” the organization also recalled.