For now, Jeopardy host Alex Trebek will be the only Canadian on the game show.
Trebek’s countrymen, for a mysterious reasons national media have been working hard to uncover, have been banned from taking an online test that recruits future contestants, the Toronto Star reported.
Our friends to the north have been quick to joke about the strange ban, speculating that perhaps they’re too clever and that Americans are sick of losing to their superior intelligence. The CBC, who conducted a thorough investigation into the Jeopardy ban, has thus far been unsatisfied with the explanations and vague statements provided by Alex Trebek on the issue.
The apparent prohibition of Canadian contestants came to light after the country’s media happened to notice a change in eligibility requirements as posted on Jeopardy‘s registration page, Reuters reported. Alex Trebek and Jeopardy confirmed that the change was caused by new rules from the Canadian government.
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“It is true that for the most recent Jeopardy! contestant tryouts, Canadians were precluded from taking the online test, since the show must now comply with new rules set down by the Canadian government,” Alex Trebek said in a statement.
Jeopardy publicists also attempted to explain.
“As international laws governing how information is shared over the internet are ever-changing and complex, we are currently investigating how we can accept registrations from potential Canadian contestants. The Jeopardy Adult, Teen and College tests have already taken place this year, and we are making every effort to find a solution before the next round of testing is available.”
This new law wasn’t specified, but Canada recently passed two that may apply — anti-spam legislation in 2014 and digital privacy laws in 2015. However, legal experts can’t figure out how either of these would affect registration for an online test. Even the country’s Privacy Commissioner was stumped; a spokeswoman told the CBC she was “not at all clear what legal requirements are being referred to.”
“It’s very weird,” said lawyer Éloïse Gratton. “Our privacy laws are consent-based so usually people who would apply and enter into a contest — all they would need to do is to agree to the terms. So I’m not sure.”
Another attorney, Ryan Black, theorized that in the past, they hadn’t been fully compliant with the law and decided that instead of “getting it wrong” to simply ban the entire country to be safe while they figure it out. A change in internal policies or a website update may also be the problem.
Nonetheless, Chad Finkelstein, another lawyer, told Reuters that it wouldn’t be too difficult to just write up a compliant online test.
“It seems to me that those hurdles are very easy to get around.”
However, it’s possible that the show just wants to avoid a stiff fine. Canada is very strict about spam, much more so than the U.S., and forbids companies from emailing any citizen without permission. If they do communicate with customers, it can only be about a product or service they signed up for. If a company breaks this law, they’ll be fined $10 million. And that, experts believe, could be an explanation for the ban.
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But without a firm confirmation from Jeopardy or Alex Trebek himself, the speculation and angst will continue. The CBC called it odd that the show is only banning Canadians, even though the only eligibility requirement is to be 18. Nationality doesn’t even factor into it.
Alex Trebek noted that one of his fellow countrymen competed Monday and another two will in March. Those shows were already taped. Jeopardy also has a history of featuring contestants from Trebek’s native country, and he hopes to continue.
“Canadians make great game-show contestants. We look forward to having more try out as soon as we are sure we can comply with all online privacy laws.”
Alex’s words haven’t convinced many. The pervading theory is that a Canadian contestant is just too hard to conquer. One these conspiracy theorists wrote online: “we kept winning that’s why! If you can’t beat’em, ban’em.”
[Photo by Muskoka Stock Photos/Shutterstock]