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Rogers expresses 'regret' over Maclean's Quebec cover

The latest edition of Maclean's magazine, which has sparked furor in Quebec, is seen at a news stand in North Vancouver on Sept. 24, 2010.


Yesterday, the editors of Maclean's came out strongly in defence of their latest cover story, which called out Quebec for being Canada's "most corrupt province." Today, the magazine's parent company took a reverse tack and apologized - or at least appeared to.

"On behalf of the company, we sincerely regret any offence that the cover may have caused," Rogers Publishing president Brian Segal said in a statement Thursday, referring to a cover image of the mascot of Quebec carnaval, Bonhomme, carrying a suitcase brimming with (presumably ill-gotten) cash.

"We value all of our customers and their perspective. Quebec is an important market for the company and we look forward to participating in the dynamic growth of the province and its citizens," Mr. Segal wrote.

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Rogers owns a handful of French-language magazines catering to the Quebec market, including L'Actualité and Châtelaine. It also runs French-language online outlets and in August the company bought Montreal-based online ad network BV! Media, which owns websites dedicated to news and other content in French.

The article - and its cover image - created controversy this week, as some provincial and federal politicians accused the magazine of Quebec-bashing. On Wednesday evening, the House of Commons passed a motion "expressing its profound sadness at the prejudice displayed and the stereotypes employed by Maclean's Magazine to denigrate the Quebec nation, its history and its institutions."

Quebec Premier Jean Charest wrote to Maclean's editor Mark Stevenson this week saying he had "discredited" the magazine. However, a spokesperson for Mr. Charest said Thursday it did not exert any pressure on Rogers to apologize for the piece.

"There has been no contact with any of their people since we sent the letter to Maclean's yesterday," press attaché Hugo D'Amour said.

He added that he doesn't expect Mr. Charest to react to the Rogers press release and refused to comment on whether the statement was an adequate response.

While expressing regret for the article, the company also defended the editorial independence of its publishing properties, and insisted management ranks do not dip their hands into the content of Rogers magazines.

Asked to clarify whether the statement was meant as a definitive apology on Thursday, a Rogers spokesperson said the language of the statement is clear and the company has nothing more to add.

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