Italian American One Voice Coalition Calls on Friends of Canadian Broadcasting to Halt Tv Commercial Stereotyping Italians

NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES—The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition—the largest Italian anti-bias group in North America—is calling upon the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting to halt its television advertisement in Canada that stereotypes Italians as mobsters.

“This is one of the most brazen examples of attacks on Italians ever done by a non-profit entity that we’ve seen,” said Manny Alfano, President of ONE VOICE, which boasts thousands of members and is affiliated with a number of other major Italian North American non-profit organizations.

The commercial features a journalist asking an actor who looks like Prime Minister Stephen Harper (who is not Italian) a series of tough questions only to then find himself bound up by a couple of Mafia henchmen and tossed in a trunk to Italian mandolin music. The Friends of  Canadian Broadcasting have launched the commercial as part of a campaign calling on the Prime Minister and other political parties to free the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), the nation’s public broadcasting entity, from political interference. Furthermore, Alfano noted the organization has also broadcast a similarly insensitive second commercial portraying Russian and Latino military characters as stereotypical political dictators.

The commercials can be viewed HERE: 

“Quite frankly, the Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition does not have an opinion on the politics of the issue the commercial purports to address, but what’s painfully wrong is that Italians are being stereotyped in an ad being broadcast to millions,” Alfano said. “This is a disgrace and we call on the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting to take the proper measure and halt it immediately…how in the world does a group that claims to be a public interest advocate stoop to the irresponsible level of defaming the fifth largest ethnic group in Canada?”

Scrolling through the names of those on the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting steering committee listed on the organization’s web page, Alfano noted that none of the committee members appeared to be Italian or had Italian last names.

“They may want to start by having someone on their committees or leadership boards who is sensitive to Italians,” Alfano said. “Maybe the steering committee needs sensitivity training.”

Alfano noted his organization would be in contact with Italian organizations such as the National Congress of Italian Canadians, to plan an advocacy campaign, and is urging his members and the public to email the Friends group, and file a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada, the national not-for-profit advertising self-regulatory agency:

Additionally, the following links, Alfano noted, can be used to contact the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting for complaints against the offensive campaign: