My complaint to the CBC Ombudsman regarding Terry Milewski using term “tar baby” on-air


Below is my complaint filed with the CBC Ombudsman July 26:

In 2009, following an outpouring of critical controversy over the use of the phrase “tar baby” by cabinet minister Pierre Poilievre, a complaint was filed with the CBC ombudsman noting that CBC columnist Larry Zolf had used the phrase.

In the published November 19, 2009 review that was printed on, the Ombudsman’s office concluded that the “tar baby” phrase “while perhaps current 50 years ago in some communities, can now easily be viewed as archaic and offensive to many,” concluding that going forward, CBC “editors should ensure that archaic and offensive phrases are not used on CBC platforms.” (see here)

On July 24, 2015, on the CBC News program “Power & Politics,” CBC correspondent Terry Milewski described the ongoing controversies surrounding the Senate of Canada as a political problem for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, using the phrase “the Senate Tar Baby that has so soiled his brand.” Judging from Mr. Milewski’s tone, I believe he chose his words deliberately and used them with specific emphasis.

In a tweet posted later that day, Mr. Milewski expressed no regret over using the phrase, and posted an excerpt from the “tar baby” page on Wikipedia, apparently in an attempt to justify his use of the expression as valid and appropriate.

milewski tar baby

In allowing Mr. Milewski’s use of what the CBC Ombudsperson described in 2009 as an “archaic and offensive” phrase to go unreprimanded, I believe the CBC has failed in its promise to “ensure that archaic and offensive phrases are not used on CBC platforms.”

Mr. Milewski should be suspended until such time as a review is completed on how the producers and CBC management will ensure Mr. Milewski and others appearing on Power and Politics never use this term again and if he is reinstated, be forced to issue an on-air apology.

Thank you
Dean Skoreyko

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