How does ethnic media campaign coverage differ?

Reprinted with permission of Policy Options

Canadians who rely on ethnic media as their main information source receive coverage of issues comparable to that of mainstream media.

A major focus of this 2019 election for the various campaigns will be courting voters from immigrant and visible minority communities, who are a majority of the population in 41 ridings, and 20 percent or more in an additional 93 ridings. All parties will attempt to reach those voters through candidate selection, conventional and online advertising, and both “mainstream” and ethnic media outlets.

While ethnic media coverage is unlikely to be decisive in influencing voter intentions, given its coverage of many of the same issues as “mainstream” counterparts, it may very well be influential in swing ridings with significant numbers of visible minority community members and immigrants, where some rely on ethnic media organizations as their main news source. MIREMS (Multilingual International Research and Ethnic Media Services) and I recently set up the website to shed more light on what issues ethnic media outlets are covering, and how riding demographics might influence electoral strategies.

Ethnic media organizations tend to reflect the population and dominant language groups of their audiences. Out of the close to 800 outlets operating across Canada, 60 percent are based in Ontario, 16 percent in British Columbia and 12 percent each in Alberta and Quebec. Over one-third of ethnic media outlets operate in Punjabi, South Asian English or Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese); another third use European languages such as Spanish, Italian and Russian.

All major national issues are covered by ethnic media organizations, whether controversies over China (particularly former ambassador John McCallum’s comments about Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou), the new Canada Food Guide or the challenge to the election date by some Orthodox Jews. The ethnic media overall focuses its content on news coverage. Analysis, opinion and commentary form between 10 and 20 percent for most language groups, based on the data we have collected.

These outlets will also focus more on ridings where there are candidates from their particular ethnic and/or language group. Greater space will be given to issues that are of particular relevance to the group.

So how do ethnic media outlets influence party campaigns and their strategies? What have we learned from the more than 1,200 media articles analyzed during the pre-writ period (July 20 to September 7)?

The ethnic media largely mirrors the mainstream media in its coverage of election issues and trends. National issues such as ethics, Canada-China relations and climate change are widely covered, as well as party electoral strategies, promises and tactics. This reflects the fact that most articles are taken and translated from the mainstream media. The Liberal values positioning on same-sex marriage and abortion and the delayed and confused Conservative response were widely covered and commented upon.

However, some issues are less well covered, reflecting internal community sensitivities or possible foreign interference. For example, there has been relatively less coverage of some of the divisions between Hong Kong and mainland Chinese-Canadians and of the Chinese government’s efforts to strengthen the pro-China narrative.

Given resource and time constraints, ethnic media outlets have relatively less in-depth issue coverage and emphasize “horse race” aspects of the campaign. However, major reports and studies are covered to provide depth.

Coverage of party nominations, candidates and individual ridings reflects riding demographics (for example, there is extensive Punjabi-media coverage of ridings in Brampton, Ontario). Moreover, this focus is amplified by the relative strength of various language groups, explaining the predominance of Chinese and Punjabi media outlets. Candidate profiles often provide more information on candidates’ views, such as the emphasis by some Conservative candidates on family values. Nomination battles and disputes, particularly when these involve conflict between communities, attract commentary, as seen in the ongoing attention in the Italian-language media to the riding of Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel, where the former Liberal candidate, Hassan Guillet, was not of Italian origin.

While the Liberals and Conservatives get widespread coverage of their electoral promises and commitments, the NDP and Green Party are under-covered. In contrast, the People’s Party of Canada, given its focus on restricting immigration and its initial exclusion from the leaders’ debate, received more than twice as much substantive coverage as the NDP and Greens combined.

Commentary and opinion in most sources capture a range of views, with some criticism of the tone and substance of both major parties and their campaigns and of some of the more transparent attempts to play identity politics (for instance, the Liberal promise for an apology to Italian Canadians for internment during the Second World War).  Other diaspora or “homeland” issues also attract commentary, such as the expression of concern by Liberal MP Ramesh Sangha on the excessive influence of Canadian Sikhs on India policy.

Overall, while coverage may vary by language group, those who rely on the ethnic media as their main information source would have an understanding of the major election issues reasonably comparable to that of people who rely on the mainstream media, with the exception of diaspora-related issues that receive more coverage.

In other words, rather than the ethnic media providing a parallel and separate space and reinforcing cultural silos, these outlets for the most part serve an important role in political integration through their coverage of the main political issues common to all Canadians.

This article is part of The media and Canadian elections special feature.

Andrew Griffith

Ethnic Media Election Coverage 29 September 2019 to 5 October

This week about 200 election-related articles were analysed.

Major issues covered:

Climate Change: The massive demonstration in Montreal along with other demonstrations across Canada were covered with CPC leader Scheer’s and PPC leader Bernier’s absence noted or criticized. There was also some coverage of Liberal habitat protection campaign provinces.

Immigration: A number of articles contrasted party positions on immigration levels, asylum seekers and the Safe Third Country Agreement with the USA, international students being a “backdoor” immigration pathway and family reunification concerns:

“This is also why Justin Trudeau appointed a Somali refugee to the important role of immigration minister. In Canada’s political climate, Chinese people cannot say they are better than refugees. Some of us criticize the federal government’s refugee policy, but the voices of the Chinese community on Canada’s political stage is very washed out.  Refugees who have made it to Canada are very eager to integrate into this country. Securing Canadian identity can protect all their interests, so there is a high rate of refugees applying for citizenship. After obtaining their citizenship, their participation in voting is also very high and united. This makes refugees one of the targeted voter blocs by the political parties. Aside from the Liberal Party, the Conservatives and the NDP are both interested in this voting bloc. This is obvious from the way political parties promote refugee-friendly strategies; they want their votes. Political parties also believe that refugees will make greater contributions to the economy than immigration investors. For those Chinese immigrants who have lived practically and paid their taxes honestly in Canada, their economic contribution should not be less than that of refugees. If Chinese voters do not vote, then whatever happens will have nothing to do with them. If people end up looking down on and isolating you, what can you do about it?” (Chinese, Van People)

Campaign: Along with general overviews of party positions and positioning and the ongoing tactics of the Liberals in invoking Premier Ford as their foil, other areas covered included: the release of the Liberal platform, information on voting procedures and Thornhill MP Peter Kent’s complaint regarding the Liberals holding an event at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square.

Multiculturalism: Coverage and commentary continued over the Trudeau brown face/blackface photos. The phone call between NDP leader Singh and PM Trudeau was noted:

“Stolarczyk says that if someone ever told him, that at his advanced age and after 40 years of journalistic work, he would have to deal with the pretend games he played when he was young he would never believe that running around the summer camp in Serpelice back in the day, with his face painted red and with feathers in his hair, that after so many years, he could be called a racist.  Stolarczyk says that he would have never thought that playing native warriors so many years ago as a boy, could somehow come to haunt him now.  But our Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has to deal with a ‘great scandal’ from the past. Trudeau dressed up as Aladdin, with his face and hands painted brown for an Arabian-themed school party many years ago. A picture from this party has now surfaced in the midst of the election campaign and Justin Trudeau is being called a racist. Trudeau, being an experienced politician and diplomat, apologized for his actions to all. Stolarczyk doesn’t feel that Trudeau needs to apologize for dressing up as a legendary, kind-hearted Aladdin who wanted to change his fate. Today, the opposition is trying to change the fate of Trudeau, but Stolarczyk hopes, that with such cheap propaganda, the opposition won’t succeed.” (Polish, Fakty Czas)

NDP leader Singh’s gracious response to a Montreal man wishing that he would remove his turban was noted, along with Singh’s noting President Trump’s influence in encouraging racism  and Singh’s wish that Trump be impeached.


There were a number of overview articles on candidates and their background:

  • Liberal Chinese Canadian candidates in the GTA (Mary Ng, Markham-Thornhill; Han Dong, Don Valley North; Jean Yip, Scarborough-Agincourt: and Shaun Chen, Scarborough North.
  • The large number of Canadian Sikh candidates was highlighted: 20 Liberal, 16 Conservative, 12 NDP and five PPC.
  • Ridings with all women candidates: Ottawa Centre and Kanata Carleton.

All candidate meetings in Brampton ridings were covered in Punjabi media.

  • Brampton East: Saranjit Singh, NDP candidate, was profiled.
  • Brampton Centre: Jordan Boswell, NDP candidate, was profiled.
  • Brampton West: Navjit Kaur, NDP candidate, was profiled. Incumbent Liberal MP and candidate Kamal Khera accepting a gift to travel to Tanzania while a parliamentary secretary and thus against government policy, was noted.
  • Laval-Les Iles: The opening of the campaign office of Tom Pentefountas, CPC candidate, was covered.
  • Markham-Thornhill: Mary Ng, incumbent MP and Minister, received further coverage, including regarding relations with China:

“She also criticized the Conservative Party for wanting to ‘cut ties’ with China, and she said that the Liberal Party would never do something like this.” (Chinese,

  • Ottawa West–Nepean: Abdul Abdi, CPC candidate, was profiled:

“He said one of the main factors that led him to join OPS, was the frequent social clashes he noticed between the Somali community and the police. He mentions how at first the Somali community was not too enthusiastic about his presence in OPS but that has since changed as Somalis have become more aware of the necessity of such Somali presence in OPS. On the topic of gun violence, Abdi vows to project the voices of Somalis and their appeals. Abdi went on to cite his track record and previous social engagement with the Somali community as evidence of his passion and interest in representing the Somali community of Ottawa.” (Somali, CKCU FM 93.1 Voice of Somalia)

  • Richmond Centre: The riding profile focussed on the changing demographics of Chinese Canadians:

“This riding is one of the few ridings that has many Chinese Canadians. This is due to the immigration trend in the last century where most Chinese immigrants came from Hong Kong. These residents speak primarily Cantonese, and have good English language proficiency. However, there has been an influx of mainland Chinese immigrants more recently. The riding has become more populated with mainland Chinese immigrants ever since. In the 2016 census results, it was the first time in history that the number of Mandarin speaking residents surpassed Cantonese speaking residents. This was an indicator that the Chinese community is slowly changing. Ever since 1988, the Conservative Party has been the preferred party in the riding. The Conservative Party has won the Richmond Centre riding for 19 years.” (Chinese, Van People)

  • Scarborough North: The opening of the campaign office of Yan Chen, NDP candidate, was covered.
  • South Surrey-White Rock: Kerry-Lynn Findlay, Conservative candidate, remarks on immigration were covered:

“…its priority in terms of immigration policy is to restore fairness and order in immigration and to embrace immigration with an open mind. However, illegal immigrants aren’t welcome. The Conservative Party is very concerned about family reunification. Due to current immigration loopholes, the normal wait times for immigration applications are longer. The Conservative Party will strongly support family reunification and ensure the reunion of parents and children, husbands and wives as soon as possible. Also, language training for new immigrants will be strengthened to ensure that new immigrants integrate into the local community as soon as possible.” (Chinese,

Citizenship: The campaign promise by the Liberals to eliminate citizenship fees was widely covered. Other issues covered included increased numbers of birth tourism and the increased number of expatriate Canadians registering to vote given the scrapping of the previous limit of five years abroad.

Ethnic vote: Italian media continued its analysis of ridings with significant numbers of Italian Canadians. Efforts to encourage Latino Canadians to vote were highlighted, noting the presence of Canadian Heritage Minister Rodriguez at the Latin Fall Fiesta and Parade in Toronto. Chinese media commentary noted relative silence by political leaders on a Richmond hate crime compared to anti-Muslim hate crimes.

Cost of living: Coverage focussed on the various party commitments to address housing costs. Liberal platform spending plans and continuing to run a deficit were noted, with one commentary on all parties focussing their campaign on spending plans, not the deficit:

“It appears that all the leaders are going after each other for promising to spend too much” (Tamil, East FM 102.7)

Firearms: Liberal leader Trudeau’s meeting with healthcare professionals and mayors to discuss gun violence were covered, along with campaign commitments to ban assault rifles and provide municipalities with greater powers to restrict handguns.

Ethics: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s commitment to launch an inquiry into the SNC-Lavalin affair and give the RCMP greater access to information protected by cabinet confidence should his party win the election was covered.

Other: Other issues receiving coverage (that is more than one article) included deficits, foreign interference, cannabis, China, conservation, drug prices/pharmacare, and healthcare.

Andrew Griffith, ethnic media provided by MIREMS

Is Immigration a Major Issue for Ethnic Media as Election Looms?

On the other side of the country, Vancouver-based Chinese weekly Dawa News pointed out that Bernier has used the term “mass immigration” as code words for Chinese immigrants from the very beginning. Photo by Filip Mishevski on Unsplash.

Immigration figures prominently in the five issues that will be themes for the federal leaders’ debates Oct. 7 and 10, but is it a topic of coverage in ethnic media outlets in the lead up to the Oct. 21 election? Some of Canada’s ethnic media think the issue has not received enough attention, even though one federal party’s platform rests heavily on a ‘Say No to Mass Immigration’ premise.

The following immigration stories reviewed in September were picked from 600 print, radio and TV outlets in Canada which write or speak in languages other than English or French, giving us a glimpse of the voices of those journalists, and in some cases, of their audiences.

In Journal Comercio Latino, a weekly Montreal Spanish newspaper, Eva Rojas noted that unlike the U.S., where many companies consider immigration to be a threat, Canadian companies widely support Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s proposal to increase the number of immigrants and refugees allowed into the country each year to approximately one per cent of the population, because “the country needs workers”.

However, according to Peter Ferreira in Toronto Portuguese weekly Milenio Stadium, the issue of immigration has not been debated so far in the federal election campaign. In fact, he asks why has such an important subject received so little attention:

“A poster with the portrait of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) leader Maxime Bernier and the message ‘Say NO to Mass Immigration’ in Toronto on August 26, 2019 made me wonder: What is happening when a ‘national’ political party is so shameless?”

The now infamous billboards, though, led to a series of commentaries on immigration as a policy issue.

In El Centro, a Spanish weekly near Toronto, Alexander Terrazas wrote that the message on the billboards is an affront to the founding principles of Canada, which has always prided itself on being an open and welcoming country to immigrants from around the world. “Although the billboards are being taken down, the message has created a profound malaise among all immigrants, especially among Hispanics,” wrote Terrazas.

Chinese Media

Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

Writing for, a popular Toronto daily Chinese website, an opinion piece by Shi Wei Long said that the words “Say No to Mass immigration” sent shivers down the spine. Shi Wei Long is not afraid of working hard and paying taxes, but still fears not being accepted as Canadian.

On the other side of the country, Vancouver-based Chinese weekly Dawa News pointed out that Bernier has used the term “mass immigration” as code words for Chinese immigrants from the very beginning. Despite this, there are some reports in the Chinese media indicating that there is support for the People’s Party of Canada among Chinese Canadians.

As is the case in Van People, another popular Chinese website in Vancouver, which noted that as the election approaches Chinese residents are becoming more vocal about their opposition to immigration and progressive values. Some Chinese Canadians, the website said, seem to be ignoring the anti-immigration stance of the People’s Party.

Punjabi Media

There are contrasting opinions among the Punjabi media regarding the Liberal government’s immigration policy. During a Toronto Punjabi talk show, CIAO 530 AM’s “Morning Awaz with Aman Deep,” host Amandeep Benipal noted that Canada’s immigration policy appears consistent in that both the current Liberal government and the previous Conservative government led by Stephen Harper have been generally supportive.

On the other hand, in the Vancouver Punjabi Indo-Canadian Times, satirical columnist Shonky Englandia wrote about Canada’s “destructive immigration policy” under the Trudeau government, calling the policy “blind” and citing immigration fraud as a big issue.

Ignoring Newcomers

Canada’s ethnic communities want to be included in the discussion, as is evident in a commentary by Joe Volpe, publisher of Toronto’s Italian newspaper Corriere Canadese, which noted that 7.8 million Canadians (22 per cent of the population) who have a mother tongue other than English or French have been deemed irrelevant by debate strategists for the upcoming federal election.

“Government heavyweights with ethnic-sounding names like Nav Bains, Ahmed Hussen, and Pablo Rodríguez must have told the central campaign it is OK to ignore such a large part of the Canadian demographic,” said Joe Volpe, a former immigration minister himself.

“In the upcoming election, we must remember that Canada is seen as a leader on immigration and refugees and recognizes the importance and contributions of newcomers. By this logic, we must vote for the party that promotes these values,” concludes well-known senior immigration consultant and professor Vilma Filici in El Centro.

Audience reaction

On an Oakville, Ontario multicultural radio station, CJMR 1320 AM, the host of the Punjabi show “Desi Rang Morning,” Kamandeep Singh Gill, said immigration is a major issue for their community, adding that Canada needs a large number of immigrants and skilled workers for the development of the country.

In contrast, a Punjabi caller who phoned in to the CIAO 530 AM Sajri Sawer radio program in Toronto criticized the Liberals’ immigration plan to bring up to 350,000 immigrants each year to the country and their policy about international students. The caller also said that a change is necessary and it will not be good if the Liberals are elected again.

Commenting on a article about the differences in immigration policy between the major federal parties, one Chinese reader thinks Canada’s immigration policy should lean strongly towards international students, rather than squandering money to play with refugee ballots.

By Blythe Irwin – Sources Director and Senior Media Analyst at; with files from

See original article at New Canadian Media:

CEMA Reports – Interview with Commissioner David Johnston

Canadian Ethnic Media’s Madeline Ziniak sits down with David Johnston, Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debates Commission and discusses the importance of the Federal Election Leadership Debates that relates to ethnic communities.

Introducing “THE CEMA REPORT”

September 24, 2019

The  Canadian Ethnic Media Association’s platform for issues that matter to Ethnic Media and  its’ audiences. Guests’, Dominic Campione, President of the Canadian Ethnocultural Council and Pauline Tong , CEMA board member and past President of the Yee Hong Wellness  Foundation weigh in on topics such as the Leadership Debates Commission and it’s  unprecedented initiative to  bring the debates in multilingual and indigenous languages, impact of ethnic voters, role of ethnic media during an election campaign, inter-generational consumption of stories regarding the Federal  election and role of the Canadian Ethnocultural Council for the upcoming elections.



Listen to episode 001 below (3:43 Minutes)




Ethnic Media Election Coverage 22-28 September 2019

This week about 150 election-related articles were analysed.

Major issues covered:

Immigration: Coverage focussed on party differences regarding overall immigration levels, including the PPC’s call for sharp reductions, the Safe Third Country Agreement with the USA and irregular arrivals (crossing between official border crossings, and the application process for family reunification (parents and grandparents, spouses). The Angus Reid survey showing public concerns regarding immigration and refugees was covered:

“… when international students apply for spousal sponsorship, they are immediately granted a visa without being required to provide so much evidence.  Ads for ‘IELTS marriage’ and ‘contract marriage’ are placed in the Punjabi media in Canada and overseas, however, Canada’s immigration department is paying no heed to it. When Canadian citizens and PRs complete applications to sponsor their parents, the quota is reached in five minutes. However, when international students apply for their parents, they are granted 10-year multiple entry visas without any evidence.” (Punjabi, Khabarnama Punjabi Weekly)


All candidate meetings in Brampton ridings were covered in Punjabi media.

  • Brampton Centre: Analysis regarding the relative prospects between the Liberals and Conservatives, with the prediction that Liberal MP Ramesh Sangha will win (Sangha has stated that his party is “pandering” to Sikh separatists.)
  • Brampton North: Conservative candidate Arpan Khanna responded to criticism that the Conservative party was against immigration (CPC leader Scheer visited the riding):

“… the immigration target was 260,000 annually during the previous Conservative government. Today, the target is 280,000 which is not a major difference. We have a balanced approach when we bring immigrants here without any back door entry. During the Trudeau government, 80,000 illegal refugees crossed the border into Canada. Khanna highlighted the burden on the Canadian immigration system and taxpayers with refugees. He said that the Liberals are not focusing on Hindu and Sikh refugees whose lives are under threat in Afghanistan. He also criticized the Liberals’ visa policy, including the parental sponsorship application intake system. He said that Conservatives emphasize an immigration system that is fair, orderly and compassionate.” (Punjabi, CJMR Parvasi)

  • Brantford–Brant: LPC Candidate Danielle Takacs’ posting an image on Facebook that showing a farm with the message “Scheer-Ford ain’t no difference!” carved into the field was covered.
  • Davenport: Sanjay Bhatia, CPC candidate, was profiled with his commitment that “a conservative government will bring justice, order and compassion to the immigration system.” (Portuguese, Correio da Manha)
  • Don Valley North: Bang Gu Jiang’s concession speech after losing the Liberal nomination to former MPP Han Dong, Liberal candidate, along with the opening of Han Dong’s campaign office, were covered.
  • Kitchener Centre: Stephen Woodworth, CPC candidate and former MP came under criticism for using previous signs that say ‘re-elect’. Elections Canada clarified that it is not against the law given he was an MP 2008-15.
  • Markham Unionville: Elvin Kao, Green Party candidate, was profiled. The visit of PM Trudeau to the Mid-Autumn Festival in support of Liberal candidate Alan Ho was also covered.
  • Ottawa West–Nepean: Anita Vandenbeld, Liberal MP and candidate, was profiled in Somali media.
  • Vancouver East: The launch of Jenny Kwan’s campaign office, NDP MP and candidate, was profiled.
  • Vimy: Liberal MP Eva Nassif’s complaints regarding bullying from other area Liberal MPs and her nomination being rejected for her not praising PM Trudeau as being a feminist was covered.

Campaign: Apart from general overviews of party positions and positioning, the respective tactics of the Liberals in invoking Premier Ford and the Conservatives in invoking former Premier Wynne to draw (or amplify) the contrast between their respective philosophies and approaches dominated coverage. Fake news regarding Liberal plans to increase the capital gains tax and PM Trudeau’s personal relationship with far-right commentator was covered. There were also a number of articles on the importance and procedures of voting.

“The scene was repeated at Scheer’s next campaign stop in Brampton, where Ford turned the tide for the PCs during the 2018 provincial election. Ford is already messing with Scheer’s chances in a big way in Ontario. The chaos of cuts he’s unleashed on the province has seen to that. With the possibility of Ford’s fight with teachers unions ending up in a strike in Ontario smack dab in the middle of the election to remind voters of the disaster Ford has been, Scheer’s electoral prospects are looking even more dicey.” (Farsi, Iran Javan)

Foreign interference:

Coverage continued on the warnings by Canadian intelligence agencies regarding possible foreign interference through the diaspora communities, citing China and India in particular but also mentioning Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela (along with Eelam Tamil). The comments by Elections Canada Commissioner regarding the difficulties of investigating foreign interference were noted again. The call by former ambassador to China, David Mulroney, for a foreign lobbyist registry was noted.

Multiculturalism: Coverage continued over the Trudeau brown face/blackface photos:

“Instead of discussing the economy, taxes, how to improve this country, how to ensure it doesn’t fall into a recession, our election debate instead concentrates on the fact, that our Prime Minister who is always so politically correct, now got caught in his own trap. Kumor says that although painting your face brown or black is not appropriate he doesn’t think that in this case Trudeau’s intention was to make fun of people of colour. Kumor asks, why if the pictures and videos were taken 18 years ago, they surfaced just now? Kumor believes it’s part of the opponents election strategy.  Looking into opponents’ past to see what they did in Kindergarten is probably the main task at the campaign headquarters, Kumor says.  There are real problems in this country, like the economy, and for that we need a good government that will take things seriously.” (Polish, Goniec)

“Trudeau apologized several times, but the Black Coalition of Quebec said that Trudeau should not take these comments to heart nor did he have to apologize. The president of the coalition, Dan Philip, said Trudeau’s blackface makeup was mainly for performance, which does not make him a racist. Philip said Trudeau took measures to help ethnic minority communities after he was elected prime minister. Trudeau also appointed a cabinet with people from all backgrounds. Philip said some politicians who criticize Trudeau are mostly hypocrites, and they do not have an interest in supporting the Black community. The reason why this photo surfaced was a political tactic to stir up controversy and gain from the chaos. Quebec Haitian author Danish Laferriere said Trudeau’s 2001 Aladdin costume was not completely blackface. Laferriere said this is a tactic used by white politicians to attack each other, and it has no connection with the black community whatsoever. ” (Chinese, Van People)

Cost of living: Coverage included the various party proposals on taxes, parental benefits, housing, and seniors (CPP and OAS increased benefits).

Ethnic vote: Commentary focussed on the need for Chinese Canadians to vote given their lower voting rate than other groups in order to influence policy debates and discussions. Italian media analyzed Ontario ridings with significant numbers of Italian Canadians, noting that this is largely between the Conservatives and Liberals. An article in Russian media focussed on the importance of the Canadian Sikh in Brampton.

“… the writer says that one finds that if anything happens to the Chinese, few politicians speak for us. Why is this the case? According to the writer, the reasoning is simple — it’s because for a long time, Chinese people haven’t been voting and haven’t formed a proxy relationship with political figures. Therefore there aren’t any political figures who would speak for the interests of Chinese people like us. For a long time, the voter turnout rate of Chinese people has been very low. So politicians don’t know what the basic demands of Chinese people are and don’t introduce policies and laws that are in the interest of Chinese people.” (Chinese,

Climate Change: Campaign promises by Liberals and Conservatives to provide financial support to make homes more efficient were covered, along with comparisons of party climate change commitments. The NDP’s clever riposte to Liberal plans, “You. Bought. A. Pipeline.” was covered.

China: The Bloomberg story stating that the diplomatic crisis created by the Meng Wanzhou case will affect the Canadian election drew the following comments:

“Canadians have recognized the reality now is that the Trudeau government is unable to well maintain the strategic relationship that was established with China. … Canadian Chinese newspaper columnist Gao Bingchen had pointed out that the arrest of Meng Wanzhou and a series of incidents that followed forced Canadians to gradually wake up; they are starting to take into consideration the cost it takes to maintain good diplomatic relations with China, and whether they can afford such a cost.” (Chinese,

“… the author says he does not agree with Bloomberg’s comments that the hearing will affect the federal election, on the grounds that the Chinese-Canadian community is a mature community that clearly separates politics from people’s livelihoods. In addition, during the election the Trudeau government is carefully maintaining a distance from “China topics.” (Chinese, Sing Tao Vancouver)

BQ leader Yves Francois Blanchet’s call for the federal government to use all diplomatic tools at its disposal to negotiate with China to resolve the trade dispute that is severely damaging the agricultural industry was noted.

Polls and other: The Angus Reid poll highlighting the negative impact of the Ford government’s unpopularity on voter intention was covered as was the Ipsos poll showing immigration being a top issue to 14 percent of voters, behind health care, affordability and the cost of living, climate change, and the economy.

Other issues receiving coverage (that is more than one article) included healthcare and the leaders’ debate.

Andrew Griffith, ethnic media provided by MIREMS

Ethnic Media Election Coverage 15-21 September 2019

Given the increased volume of mainstream election coverage duplicated in the ethnic media, this and future weekly analyses will focus more on commentary, selected ridings and specific subjects rather than broader coverage.

This week about 120 election-related articles were analysed.

Major issues covered:

Foreign interference: Coverage focused on the warnings by Canadian intelligence agencies regarding possible foreign interference through the diaspora communities, citing China and India in particular but also mentioning Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela (along with Eelam Tamil). The comments by Elections Canada Commissioner regarding the difficulties of investigating foreign interference were noted.

Chinese Canadian media noted efforts to influence nomination meetings to select candidates with more pro-China views. Coverage in Indo-Canadian media was relatively less but one commentary in Punjabi media noted:

“Attempts to interfere by the Canadian or US government in the Punjab provincial election or in general elections in India has never been reported, even though the influence of Non Resident Indians (NRI) on Indian elections can be seen. But in Canadian elections, governments are being identified. Bobby, a guest on the show said that in Indian elections many NRIs living in Canada and other countries supported their family members who were running in the election and played a big role. The political base of any community living anywhere internationally, impacts the politics of the country where they’re living.” (Punjabi, Chin FM 91.9 Ramz Punjabi)

Campaign: Much of general campaign coverage focussed on Ontario Premier Ford’s decision to sit out the federal campaign and not be seen with CPC leader Scheer (likely at the CPC request). Other coverage included information regarding campaign length, the tightness of the race, the various campaign strategies and main issues.

“The temperament of this election will become nasty when the marketing of the campaign begins. All parties will be throwing money they don’t have at the country and make promises they won’t keep. We will be fighting with our instincts to try and reach an ending where our vote may count. In the end because of the quality of the candidates we may feel that our vote was wasted.” (Portuguese, Milenio Stadium)

Multiculturalism: Not surprisingly, the media frenzy over the Trudeau brown face/blackface photos dominated coverage in most language groups. Commentary to date was relatively limited.

“Radio host Fabian Merlo said that one can draw many conclusions from this, some more informed than others. There has been a lot of criticism in recent years against people who dress up as someone of another race or religion during Halloween. Radio host Silvia Mendez said it’s a complicated subject and in 2001 Justin Trudeau didn’t know he was going to be prime minister. Fabian Merlo said your past condemns you.” (Spanish, CHIN 91.9 FM Spanish)

“Responding to a caller, [host] Jaswal said that Trudeau’s photo in brownface is no big issue. The photo was taken 18 years ago. There is a huge difference in Trudeau’s thinking now compared to then. Jaswal was surprised that the mainstream media is making the photograph a big issue. Why had no Canadian media outlet found this photo before. It is for the people to decide, but it’s not a big issue, said Jaswal.” (Punjabi, WTOR 770 AM Radio South Asian Pulse Prime Time)

The muted reaction by federal leaders to Quebec Premier Legault’s assertion that the federal government should never challenge Bill 21’s prohibition of religious symbols for public servants was noted.


The number of Chinese Canadian candidates in Vancouver was covered (10).

  • Brampton North: The Liberals exposed a past homophobic tweet of Conservative candidate Arpan Khanna who is running against MP Ruby Sahota:

“Political parties are finding it easier to come into the limelight by accusing other candidates rather than debating more serious issues. In 2015, Conservative candidate Jagdish Grewal, who is the editor of the Canadian Punjabi Post, lost his candidacy due to such petty issues. The writer further says that politicians and political parties should rise above the petty issues to work to resolve the real, more serious issues facing the country rather than involving the public in cheap mudslinging games.” (Punjabi, Canadian Punjabi Post)

  • Brampton West: Navjit Kaur, NDP candidate, was profiled.
  • Davenport: Andrew Cash, NDP candidate and former MP, was profiled.
  • Etobicoke Centre: Yvan Baker, Liberal candidate, was profiled.
  • Markham-Unionville: Alan Ho, LPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Vancouver East: The opening of Jenny Kwan’s, NDP MP and candidate, was covered.
  • Vancouver South: Wai Young, Conservative candidate and former MP, was profiled.
  • Vimy: Annie Koutrakis, Liberal candidate, was profiled.

Ethnic vote:

Ethnic vote coverage focussed on the analysis of the number of ridings where Filipino, Italian, Latino, and Portuguese Canadians are significant along with the number of candidates with these origins.

“What do the political parties need to do to engage the 850,000 Fil-Canadians to vote in the next elections? There’s at least two things political parties need to remember about Fil-Canadian voters. First, they need to know you will do something about the needs of their families, their jobs or careers, and their desire to be homeowners. If you want to win the elections, make sure your platforms are not mamby-pamby, vague ideas of what your political agendas are, but simple, down-to-earth, to the bones policies regarding post-secondary education for them and for their children, professional accreditation and the recognition of their post-secondary education in the Philippines, and housing affordability. Second, they want to be taken seriously, not because they have the most awesome celebrations and events, and the food Is always abundant and delicious, but to be recognized as a legitimate member of the multicultural fabric of Canada by giving them a chance to hold a position of the political system that the former Senator Enverga held.” (Filipino, Philippine Asian News Today)

Immigration: Coverage included the proposed cuts in immigration levels by the PPC and the related support among some Chinese Canadians, the increased focus on regular and irregular asylum seekers, and the commitment by CPC leader Scheer to close the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement with the USA.

“…the annual immigration quota that Bernier is calling for is a reduction of up to 70% when compared to the current Canadian government’s quota. As we step into the Canadian federal election season, the most notable aspect of the People’s Party’s political platform is anti-immigration, yet the writer says many Chinese people seem to turn a blind eye and continue to support the People’s Party. Why do some older Chinese immigrants want to burn the bridge after crossing the river by being against immigration? Perhaps this is due to selfishness.” (Chinese, Ottawazine)

Cost of living: The various policy announcements of the parties were covered: the Conservative and Liberal proposals making EI parental benefits tax deductible, the Liberal proposal to help first-time homebuyers, the NDP proposal to build 500,000 new affordable homes, and the Conservative proposal to reduce the lowest marginal tax rate were all covered.

Leaders’ debate: Commentary on Liberal leader Trudeau’s decision to skip the Macleans/City TV was more supportive than critical. Former Liberal Minister Joe Volpe asked the question “Why…have they not scheduled even one with the multilingual community of 7.2 million Canadians?”  (Italian, Corriere Canadese)

Healthcare: Healthcare coverage focussed on NDP leader Singh’s promise to build a new hospital in Brampton (Note: Provincial rather than federal responsibility) along with coverage of the different party proposals on drug prices/pharmacare.

Business Support and other: In addition to coverage of the Liberal promise to provide additional support to start-ups, other issues mentioned were citizenship (expatriate voting), education (RESP CPC proposal to increase the government contribution), ethics (critique of both parties), polls, social media (deep fakes) and third party advertising.

Andrew Griffith, ethnic media provided by MIREMS

Greater Access Should Be the Only Issue Regarding Abortion

Greater Access Should Be the Only Issue Regarding Abortion

Abortion has emerged as a wedge issue as the federal elections approach in October, and Canada’s ethnic media are paying attention.

According to Can India News, a South Asian Mississauga-based newspaper, one issue the Liberals have been criticized for is their use of women’s rights, especially access to abortion, to draw “sharp contrasts” between their party and the Conservatives.

“Nothing is fair in love and politics, and despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisting he won’t go near divisive issues, voters would like our political parties to stake out their positions on, well, divisive issues,” the article stated.

Unfortunately, the Liberals chose to bring abortion up as a wedge issue rather than an inclusive one that promotes increasing access and support for women. Pakistan Post, an Urdu newspaper in Toronto, noted that Justin Trudeau has crisscrossed the country by warning about the dangers of electing a Conservative government. He is “shouting from the rooftops” that everything from guns in the streets to abortions being outlawed and the healthcare system being slashed could happen if Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives are elected, according to Pakistan Post.

However, the Conservative Party is in the spotlight of the issue, too. After Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale released a 2005 video of Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer speaking against same-sex marriage, Mélanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie, shared her concerns about Scheer re-opening the abortion debate with free votes on anti-choice issues. Joly then tweeted a video clip of Scott Hayward, co-founder of anti-abortion group RightNow, highlighting Scheer’s position.

“While some Conservatives say the abortion debate is closed, this new video proves Scheer tells anti-choice activists the opposite,” Joly said on Twitter.

Vancouver-based Chinese website Van People jumped on the issue, asking what the Liberals’ election talking points are during this time of environmental insecurity and economic anxiety. The source stated the following: “That Andrew Scheer is scary. He’s scary because he does not support a woman’s right to abortion, and because he seems to harbour some sort of animus toward gay and transgender people. It’s also reasonable to conclude he doesn’t want to be around gay people at all, given his refusal to take part in Pride parades.”

Bringing Green Party leader Elizabeth May into the fray, Goniec, a Polish newspaper in Toronto, reported that in 2006, May generated some controversy by saying she is against abortion and that she didn’t think a woman has a “frivolous right to choose”.

But rather than attacking a politician’s previous views on same-sex marriage or abortion, we should instead be discussing how to increase access to abortion in Canada and how we can provide further support for women choose to do so.

Some ethnic media sources fear that there is a risk of abortion being repealed in Canada. CFMB AM 1280 Italian Morning, a Montreal-based radio program, gave its opinion on this matter, commenting that although the Conservative Party is saying that it has no plans to reopen the abortion debate if elected, it will not be able to prevent its members from doing so if they wish. The source added that such a scenario is virtually guaranteed, given the number of pro-life MPs on the Conservative team.

Along these lines, some ethnic media outlets highlighted the fact that pro-life groups aren’t pleased with Scheer regarding his stance on the issue. Radio CINA 1650 AM News at 9 a.m., a Hindi program in Toronto, reported that anti-abortion groups are angry with Scheer’s stance on the issue of abortion.

Including ethnic media in the conversation enables Canada’s multilingual voices to equally participate, as the country discusses election issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. Our initiative helps connect demographics and diversity with democracy in order to promote the inclusion of all Canadians in the upcoming federal elections.

Let’s hope that our political leaders put aside their attack tactics and get back to focusing on issues that matter to everyone, such as jobs, the environment, housing and supporting our communities, one aspect of which includes providing greater access to abortion instead of using it as a wedge issue.

Written by Blythe Irwin, with files from

Why the unrest in Hong Kong matters to Canada in an election year: Canadian-Chinese voices speak out

There are 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong as the upcoming Canadian federal election approaches, the first in which expats can vote. It’s therefore significant that Canadian politicians are making statements about the situation in Hong Kong, even if they are all talk and no action.

Our Chinese team at read hundreds of stories in the Canadian Chinese media over the past month, discovering that Toronto-based daily Chinese news portal was prominent in contributing to the conversation on Kong Kong and its relevance to the Canadian election via the voices of its readers. Its rich reader comment section showcases some of the street-level thinking in the Chinese community.

As the Canadian federal election in October draws closer, Surrey, BC-based Chinese website pointed out that the leaders of the various political parties do not want to miss any opportunities for performing on stage.

                            Photo Credit: (Fred Dufour/Reuters)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “extremely concerned” about Hong Kong, according to He has expressed concerns about Hong Kong’s situation and called on the Chinese authorities to adopt a cautious attitude and respect the protesters’ demands. In forums, some internet users wonder what the Hong Kong matter has to do with Canada. One commenter found it strange that Canada is publicly meddling with China’s internal affairs, and is being so bold and confident about it. Another one asked whether or not Hong Kong issues have a lot to do with the Canadian prime minister.

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer even went as far as saying we are all Hong Kongers. cited Scheer saying in a Twitter post: “As Beijing amasses troops at the Hong Kong border, now is the time for everyone committed to democracy, freedom, human rights, and the rule of law to stand with the people of Hong Kong, including the 300,000 ex-pat Canadians. Now, and in the coming days, we are all Hong Kongers”.

However, not all readers of Chinese ethnic media in Canada agree with Scheer’s remark that “we are all Hong Kongers”. It was noted in a article that Scheer is just an opposition party leader and is not qualified to represent the federal government or Canada. And it appears that not all Twitter users agree with Scheer’s remark either, as one Twitter user wrote in response on “We are all Hong Kongers? Hard pass dude, I’ve got no interest in fighting the Chinese”.

“Currently, Canada’s relations with China and its position on the Hong Kong issue have caught the attention of many Chinese Canadians” – noted Chinese Readers, a Vancouver-based website

And it is clear that Canadian politicians are concerned with the unrest in Hong Kong. Why is it that some Canadian politicians are voicing their concerns on this matter? Comments on various Chinese forums indicate that some people just don’t understand why Canada is bothering to comment on Hong Kong and China’s internal affairs. Meanwhile, others are worried about further retaliation or economic sanctions.

Canadian politicians’ concerns could have to do with the fact that the upcoming federal election will be the first time overseas Canadian citizens will be allowed to cast their votes outside Canada.

The Chinese Ming Pao newspaper reported that, according to Canada-Hong Kong Link Director Gloria Fung, the unrest in Hong Kong is not only a Hong Kong issue but has become an issue for Canada as well because there are 300,000 Canadian citizens presently living in Hong Kong and their votes can affect the outcome in many ridings where neither the Conservatives nor Liberals have a clear-cut lead.

According to an article on written by Michael Chan, with the federal election approaching, community members suspect the National Post is attempting to pull Hong Kong and “negative China” rhetoric into mainstream Canadian society, in hopes of influencing this October’s federal election. According to the writer, many people know that “negative China” rhetoric is one of the ways to win votes in the mainstream North American society.

  Photo Credit: Law and Border

In addition to Canadian politicians voicing their concerns on this matter, there have been calls on Canada to help the Hong Kong protesters. Among these calls is an open letter from a group of Hong Kongers living in Halifax, which was published in The Coast. reported that the letter, titled “What Canada can do to help the Hong Kong protesters”, demanded Canada enact measures to deny entry to, or revoke the Canadian citizenships of, Hong Kong government officials, among other demands.

But do Canadians and the Chinese ethnic media in Canada think it’s likely that Canada will actually do anything to help? Do they want Canada to do anything in the first place?

The Twitter user who expressed no interest in fighting the Chinese also wrote: “Not that there’s much Canada can do in that regard either. Just a bunch of hot air virtue signalling that’s going to have us hit with more economic penalties.”

According to, Trudeau doesn’t actually have the time to “save” Hong Kong, because he is going to be busy with the upcoming federal election. The writer said that Trudeau has no motive to “save” Hong Kong, and also noted that Trudeau is already in terrible shape due to the Meng Wanzhou case. Canada-China relations have reached their hardest moment in history, and the writer asked whether one still expects Trudeau to add fuel to the fire.

There is doubt among Chinese Canadians that Canada either has the desire or ability to do anything about Hong Kong. We will see what, if anything, happens after the election. If Hong Kong matters to Canadian politicians only in the context of the 300,000 expat voters who will be exercising their right to vote for the first time, then there may not be any political will to continue standing up for Hong Kong after October. Even if there is, expressing concern is not the same as taking action.

41 multicultural constituencies could tip the scales



Canada now has 41 constituencies with a majority of visible minorities. That’s eight more than in the last federal election. These key battlefields, often pivotal counties, could play a decisive role on October 21st. The Conservatives who lost most of this block in 2015 are they better placed to regain these seats?

Something ironic happened in the riding of Ajax, a suburb of Toronto.

It has seen the largest increase in visible minority residents. A good of 11% in 5 years.

Irony? This county was represented by the former Minister of Immigration, Chris Alexander, defeated in 2015.

He presented the Conservative election promise to set up a whistleblower to report alleged cases of barbaric cultural practices . This announcement stuck to his skin and added to the controversial positions of the Conservatives on both the revocation of citizenship and the niqab.

All of this was going to be detrimental to Stephen Harper and his party, who had put so much effort into conquering cultural communities.

Linda and Ernest Ombrog, of Filipino origin, live in Ajax. In five years, this riding east of Toronto has seen the largest increase in Canada’s visible minority population. Photo: Radio-Canada / Marc Godbout

At the Ajax suburban train station, a couple from the Philippines is waiting for the next departure. Linda and Ernest Ombrog heard about this episode even though they arrived in Canada after the 2015 federal election.

We do not quite trust , says Ernest Ombrog. I do not think we will vote for the Conservatives , adds his wife.

A few meters further on is Abdol Nadi, a surgeon turned taxi driver. This Afghan says that most of the immigrants who settled in Ajax in recent years are mostly from Tajikistan, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Many are his clients.

Abdol Nadi of Afghan origin is driving his taxi in Ajax, Ontario. Photo: Radio-Canada / Marc Godbout

I feel mistrust in some, rightly or wrongly. Although I think the Liberals are far from perfect, I still prefer to support them , he says.

The campaign strategies of 2015 always seem to have left a bitter taste, at least in this county.

From 33 to 41

At the time, Ajax was not yet in federal ridings with a majority visible minority population. It is one of eight constituencies that have been added to the list since 2015.

Andrew Griffith, expert on multiculturalism, has broken down the data. This former senior immigration official notes that 27 of these 41 constituencies are in Ontario, 9 in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec each have 2 while another is in Manitoba.

“You can not win a majority government without winning those counties”.

– Andrew Griffith,multiculturalism expert


In the 2015 election, the Liberals won 85% of those ridings, 35 out of 41. The Conservatives and New Democrats had to settle for three seats each.

The population of Scarborough North County, Ontario, is 92% visible minorities. In Canada, 17 federal ridings now have a population of over 70% visible minorities. Photo: Radio-Canada / Marc Godbout

Andrew Griffith explains that we can no longer speak of immigrant populations as a monolithic block. Groups that arrived 20 years ago may have a tendency to be more conservative. But those who followed are not automatically and continuously linked to a political party , says the researcher.

To put them in precise boxes would be an error, according to him. They can make a left turn as they can turn right.

These are constituencies that can move from one party to another. Of course, this has a constant impact on the electoral strategies of the different parties.

– Andrew Griffith, multiculturalism expert

Andrew Griffith, Multiculturalism Expert and former Senior Official at the Department of Immigration. Photo: Radio-Canada / Marc Godbout

In 2011, the Conservatives won the majority of these counties. In 2015, they passed into the hands of the Liberals. And to be considered, in the Ontario provincial election of 2018, Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives had almost all rounded up.

Kenney, the master card?

The Conservatives would like to be able to count on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in this campaign to help Andrew Scheer in some of those ridings in Ontario. This scenario is still on the table even if no strategy has yet been stopped.

Jason Kenney, formerly Harper’s Minister of Immigration, had been the architect of the Conservative Party’s great seduction of cultural communities.

But the simple fact of wanting to use the Alberta prime minister shows that the efforts of rapprochement have not been sufficient since the arrival of Andrew Scheer at the head of his party, said Ghanaharan S. Pillai.

Ghanaharan S. Pillai, host of political broadcasts at the CMR Tamil Station in Toronto. Photo: Radio-Canada / Marc Godbout

“The interaction between the communities and the Conservative Party is no longer what it was under the Harper years”.

– Ghanaharan S. Pillai

Yet they would have an opportunity to seize.

According to this Toronto Tamil radio and television host, who has been observing the political game in cultural communities for years, Justin Trudeau does not necessarily enjoy the same popularity as in 2015. While the Liberals have maintained their base, they do not have not widened, he adds.

But the Conservatives do not control everything. Beyond the field work, for Ghanaharan S. Pillai, the main challenge for them is to overcome an obstacle that could benefit his opponents: Doug Ford.

The Ontario premier was brought to power thanks to the support of this electorate, which is made up mostly of immigrants. Since then, Doug Ford has particularly bad press in multicultural media notes Andrew Griffith who regularly analyzes their content. They are very strict about it.

The media factor

This is a significant factor.

There are no less than 600 multicultural media in Canada. More than half are in the greater Toronto area. Their influence is important in the communities.

A resident of Brampton, Ontario reads a newspaper in Punjabi. Photo: Radio-Canada / Marc Godbout

Ghanaharan S. Pillai’s radio broadcasts show a serious breach of trust in Doug Ford after just 15 months.

How much will this mistrust affect Andrew Scheer?

How successful will the Conservative leader be in shadowing the 2015 campaign strategies?

The stake is major. After all, 41 ridings are now 9 more than the four Atlantic provinces combined. 41, almost the same number of seats as in British Columbia.

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