CFRC accused of discrimination

Former volunteer says he was victim of employment discrimination; station denies charges

Brent Holland has accused CFRC of discrimination.
Brent Holland has accused CFRC of discrimination.

A former CFRC volunteer has accused the campus and community radio station of anti-Semitism and employment discrimination.

Brent Holland, a former volunteer who hosts an independent paranormal radio show “Night Fright”, took issue with the show “Under The Olive Tree” ­— a rebroadcasted show on Palestinian politics -— for its claims that the Canadian government is complicit with “Israel’s crimes” and that Israel uses drones to target Palestinians.

He also criticised the show’s sources, including Press TV, which is owned by the government of Iran but managed autonomously and has been accused of anti-Semitism by the Anti-Defamation League.

“Under The Olive Tree” is broadcast by McGill’s CKUT campus-community station on Thursdays, and rebroadcast later in the day by CFRC.

Holland said the show’s claims about Canada’s complicity with “Israeli crimes” implied that crimes are being committed without specificity or proof, and makes “no mention of rockets being indiscriminately dropped on kids in Israel.” He added that the claim of Israeli drone use against Palestinians was a lie and that Israel had never purposely targeted civilians.

Holland said that he was asked to resign from CFRC last fall because of problems with then-programming manager, Camille Di Iulio, and station manager, Kristiana Clemens. He said he was given a verbal warning and an official letter of reprimand after he filled in for another volunteer and played “the wrong music” on the show.

“They asked me to resign because I didn’t fit in,” he said.

He said this was because of his politics, which didn’t match CFRC’s. He objected to the station’s anti-oppression training, which he called “nothing less than indoctrination.”

During training, volunteers were shown Toby Keith’s music video “American Soldier”, Holland said, adding that he became uncomfortable when Keith was criticized for being male and white.

“It’s the exact opposite of what I fought for in the 60s, the 70s and the 80s … it had nothing to do with anti-oppression at all,” he said.

He said he’s hired a lawyer and may launch a human rights complaint against CFRC for employment discrimination.

“What they’ve done is completely illegal,” he said, adding that he thinks politics have no place on publicly-funded community radio.

Katherine Garven, a co-host of “Under The Olive Tree”, said that the show’s political views aren’t anti-Semitic.

“We are a community radio program representing the Palestinian community where Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is often discussed,” she told the Journal in an email statement.

She acknowledged the use of Press TV as a source, but added that the show bases its reports on a variety of sources, including the Times of Israel, Haaretz and independent sources such as United Nations reports.

She added that it was “sad” that people have to defend themselves against accusations of anti-Semitism for criticizing Israel’s actions and policies.

Garven also said that specific criticisms from Holland about a July 17 show were “personal opinions and not based on facts or specific references.” She provided multiple articles discussing Canada’s political environment regarding Israel, as well as ones about drone action, including a piece from Human Rights Watch saying that Israeli air strikes have targeted civilian structures.

Kristiana Clemens told the Journal via email that CFRC had received a few negative comments about “Under The Olive Tree”, but didn’t believe that the station had ever received a formal complaint about the program. She noted that Holland had not submitted a complaint regarding the program.

She added that CFRC had received positive feedback about the program.

“Listeners appreciate that the program offers grassroots, non-partisan, human rights-focused coverage that explores the realities lived by working people and families in the occupied territories,” she said.

Clemens also said that Holland was removed from the National Campus and Community Radio listserv for posting hate speech, and was aware of the past comments when Holland completed volunteer training last August.

She said that Holland became “increasingly hostile, aggressive and threatening” in emails between himself and Di Iulio after he filled in for an indie music program where he played a 90-minute interview about JFK’s assassination, and no music.

According to Clemens, he left CFRC last September after a meeting with herself and Di Iulio, where he admitted to having violated the terms of a volunteer agreement he had signed.

She added that, until this month, staff at CFRC had not heard from him.

“It is sadly and shamefully obvious … that he is seeking to capitalize on people’s complex emotions stemming from recent and tragic losses of life in Gaza,” she said.


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