Although the Juno Awards may still have a long way to go when it comes to representing diversity, last night's (April 2) ceremony should have been a celebration of women's contributions to Canadian music — Sarah McLachlan was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Buffy Sainte-Marie was honoured with the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award and artists like Tanya Tagaq, Feist and Alessia Cara delivered stunning live performances. Instead, the evening's broadcast was sullied with a slew of sexist remarks from co-host Russell Peters.
A growing online backlash against the comedian's hosting job has drawn attention to a series of troubling comments that were made before and during the show.
Peters opened the evening by surveying the crowd and cracking: "Look at all the young girls. This is a felony waiting to happen."
As astutely pointed out by Kira-Lynn Ferderber in a column for the Ottawa Citizen, the women in the audience deserved more respect, while the men who were present deserved "a better education than this." Many people, sharing their reactions online, agree.
"Look at all the young girls. This is a felony waiting to happen."— Jill Krajewski (@JillKrajewski) April 3, 2017
Um @therealrussellp, the "Look at all the young girls, this is a felony waiting to happen" joke was pretty f'in lame. My 8yr old was there.— JimBryson (@jimbryson) April 3, 2017
That wasn't the only comment to justifiably draw ire, though. Peters also gave Mélanie Joly a shoutout during the broadcast, claiming he wasn't sure why she was there, "but she's hot, so who cares!"
For the record, the Honourable Joly was there because she's the Minister of Canadian Heritage, and she presented burgeoning star Ruth B with her Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award.
But the worst part of the night was when Russell Peters said "I don't know why she's here but she's hot" about the HONOURABLE Melanie Joly.— Kate Sheffield (@kate_sheffield) April 3, 2017
Unfortunately, Peters's sexist remarks began even before the official broadcast went to air. An ET Canada video from the pre-show red carpet captures the comedian posing with a male and female Mountie. "I'm only mounting one of you," he says to them, before turning to the male and saying, "It's not you."
Peters was active on social media throughout the Junos broadcast, but has yet to publicly comment on the emerging backlash regarding his less-than-savoury comments about women last night.
UPDATE (4/4, 4:30 p.m. EDT): The Juno Awards and CARAS have now issued a statement regarding Peters's controversial comments. You can read it in full here.