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The Director Of Quebec's Anti-Racism Ads Called Out The Gov't For 'Derailing' The Message

"To you, Benoit Charrette and François Legault, I ask you to withdraw this advertisement and to apologize."

The Director Of Quebec's Anti-Racism Ads Called Out The Gov't For 'Derailing' The Message

The government is getting a lot of heat for those Quebec anti-racism ads that circulated on television and social media.

First released on November 22, the ads aimed to challenge viewers' prejudice with depictions of a group of young Black friends sitting on a park bench, a man from South America going for a run in his neighbourhood, two medical professionals of Asian descent and an Arab family gathering for a meal in an apartment.

Initially, some viewers — including politicians like Liberal MNA Jennifer Maccarone — objected to the omission of the word "québécois" from character descriptions in the English versions of the ads. Critics claimed the omission isolated the anglophone community from the québécois identity. Quebec Minister for the Fight Against Racism Benoit Charette eventually agreed to change the English ads.

Now Khoa Lê, the director of the controversial ads, is shedding light on what happened behind the scenes.

In an interview with Radio-Canada's 24|60, Lê claimed the government made a change to his original videos in the final stages of the project, adding the word "québécois" to the French versions.

The director said the edit "derailed" the ads' anti-racist message and turned them into something more nationalistic. He took to Facebook to apologize for his role in the project and called on government leaders to do the same.

"I want to tell you that I tried," Lê wrote. "I’ve tried to be affirmative, sharp, vocal, eloquent and convincing to those with decision-making power. I did my best, but the best is not enough and all my good intentions can't excuse this advertisement."

Lê said he takes responsibility for his role in the creation of the ads.

"I take upon myself the mistake I made. I bow and apologize to those 'people of Arab origin gathered in their apartment,' 'those women of Asian origin in the hospital,' 'those Black youths gathered in the park' and 'those men from South America.'"

"To you, Benoit Charrette and François Legault, I ask you to withdraw this advertisement and to apologize."

The ads no longer appear on Premier Legault's YouTube page.

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