Newspaper headlines leaped to the leaked cable. "US warned of 'insidious' stereotypes on Canadian TV," exclaimed the Toronto Globe and Mail. "CBC stereotypes a drag on Canada-US ties," read the Toronto Star.
The cable highlighted three CBC shows as demonstrative of an upsurge in anti-American sentiment in the Canadian zeitgeist. Together they were said to “offer Canadian viewers their fill of nefarious American officials carrying out equally nefarious deeds in Canada while Canadian officials either oppose them or fall trying.”
The charge came as a complete surprise to the executive producer of one of the programs, “Little Mosque on the Prairie,” an internationally acclaimed sitcom about a group of Muslims trying to live in harmony with the residents of a rural town in Saskatchewan.
“It’s a show that’s been credited with addressing hatred with comedy and building bridges between communities, so I thought, oh, man, how ironic to be called out for this one episode that happened to have a border issue in it,” says Mary Darling, the American-born CEO of Westwind Pictures, which made the series.
Embassy officials told Washington an episode of the show “portrayed a Muslim economics professor trying to remove his name from the no-fly list at a US consulate” where he encounters “a rude and eccentric US consular officer” who worked hard to “avoid being helpful.”