Response to Chez 106 irresponsible reference to cyclists

This letter was addressed to senior executives at Rogers Inc, which owns the Chez 106 radio station.

Dear Ms Orr and Mr. Morrison,

 As the Councillors for Somerset and Kitchissippi Wards in the City of Ottawa, we are very disturbed by the recent call-in question on the Cosmo Show on Chez 106. The question was, “Are Ottawa cyclists nothing more than cockroaches on wheels” and it seemed to be aimed at inciting intolerance and hatred toward cyclists.

 The responses to the incitement included statements that cyclists, “are targets”, “are slugs or worms”, “are scum of the earth”, and “get special status”. A caller who identified himself as a heavy truck driver complained about the provincial regulation that vehicles must stay one metre away from cyclists. This law was brought in after a number of cyclists were killed by heavy trucks and other vehicles when they fell into the pathway of drivers following or passing too close.

 I certainly understand that these call-ins are intended to be entertainment. But it is well known that this kind of incitement to intolerance convinces some listeners that they are licensed to aggressive behaviours, too. It is unacceptable, dangerous, and not in any manner, remotely funny.

 In Ottawa, there are fatal vehicle-cyclist collisions every year, including one less than two months ago. The families of those who are killed would not view this as a subject for entertainment.

 We have thousands of cycling commuters in Ottawa. They save tax dollars by needing less infrastructure. They don’t create greenhouse gases that lead to climate change. They don’t add to noise pollution, either.

 And besides commuters, thousands of children cycle every day, to visit friends, to get to school and with their families. Why is your radio station putting them at risk?

 We have seen the damage that irresponsible talk radio can create when we look at our US neighbours. It is time to reign in DJs who believe any opinion is simply entertainment. When broadcasts like this put the lives of citizens at risk, they are far from entertaining.

 Please let me know what Rogers will do to educate DJs to be more responsible and how this case will be handled. We will be following up with a formal complaint to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

 Thank you,

Catherine McKenney                                              Jeff Leiper

Councillor – Somerset Ward (Ottawa)                  Councillor – Kitchissippi Ward

Cc       The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Heritage

Catherine McKenney