QUEBEC CITY, Canada — They call it “radio poubelle,” or trash radio. Quebec City has developed the dubious reputation as Canada’s capital of shock jocks, online radio hosts who love to provoke with their outrageous talk about women, homosexuals and Muslims.
As this city of 800,000 deals with the emotional aftermath of Sunday’s shooting at a local mosque that left six worshipers dead and several injured, the role of trash radio in spreading xenophobic attitudes is getting new attention. A 27-year-old local university student and follower of far-right causes was charged Monday with murder and attempted murder in connection with the massacre.
While there is no indication that the alleged shooter, Alexandre Bissonnette, was particularly influenced by trash radio, members of the Muslim community were quick to complain about the corrosive impact of the anti-immigrant rhetoric heard on the city’s airwaves.
Even Quebec City’s popular mayor, Régis Labeaume, appeared to criticize the radio stations. Speaking at an outdoor vigil in memory of the victims Monday evening, he denounced those who “get rich from peddling hatred.”
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard acknowledged Tuesday that the province has “its demons” and that “xenophobia, racism and exclusion are present here.” But he told reporters that Quebec society is generally open and tolerant.