Kudos to Jim Bond of Picton, ON for bugging the CBC about Little Mosque on the Prairie. Back on January 17, Bond heard the program's creator, Zarqa Nawaz, tell National Public Radio that Saskatchewan is not mentioned in the show. This leaves the door open for the show to be picked up in the States and Americans can imagine the setting to be North Dakota. This is a film that received $2,513,829 from the Canadian Television Fund for eight episodes in its first season, $4,250,000 for its second, and won a "Canada Award" at the 2007 Geminis to boot!
I found it shocking that a CBC series, produced and promoted with taxpayers' money, would have a policy of not mentioning a Canadian province in order to make sales in the U.S.
Without mentioning the NPR interview, I asked the CBC if Canadian content or identity was edited out of Little Mosque on the Prairie. It took five weeks, three e-mails and help of the CRTC, but the CBC finally assured me by e-mail the producers were not trying to disguise the fact the program is shot in Saskatchewan.
I then asked the CBC to reconcile its e-mail response with the clearly contradictory statements by Nawaz on NPR.
Without apologizing for giving me misinformation, the second CBC response was basically an attempt to give a smoother spin to Nawaz's eager attempts on American radio to break into the U.S. television market.
It finally admitted that "in order for the show have the broadest appeal, Saskatchewan, for example, was never mentioned by name as it could just as easily be North Dakota or anywhere else on the prairies".
But the second e-mail states there have been regular references to Toronto, "and those references have not been removed for foreign sales".
I can only conclude from this the CBC thinks Toronto has "broad appeal" and Saskatchewan does not.
Bond is not the only upset Canadian.