Multicultural Media Sound Alarm Over ‘Fake News’



This news analysis has been created as a service to readers who wish to follow news and commentary in languages other than English and French, in partnership with MIREMS and Photo by Kayla Velasquez on Unsplash


NCM News Desk Analysis

Canada’s mainstream and multicultural media world may be two solitudes with little in common, but they are agreed on the danger posed by “fake news” and “disinformation”. Multicultural media have devoted reams of newsprint and airtime to keep their audiences informed as Canadians prepare to vote in the Oct. 21 national election.

New Canadian Media partnered with MIREMS, an ethnic media monitoring service, and to review 635 pages of election coverage translated into English from their original multicultural media source. They analysis covered the period between June 1 and Sept. 12, the day after the election was called.

The analysis did not reveal any concrete instances of news manipulation other than two instances that were also reported by mainstream organizations. In both instances, social media posts tried to muddy the waters around voter eligibility by suggesting that international students and expat Canadians were being wrongly encouraged to exercise their franchise.

Our review showed the following themes: an Ipsos poll in June showing that 90 per cent of Canadians

Photo by Nariman Ansari

feel vulnerable to “fake news”; an Apathy is Boring campaign encouraging youth to think critically of their media choices; government-issued warnings against specific foreign nations that will seek to influence the elections; the much-discussed Russian interference and lessons drawn from the recent Alberta provincial elections.

In at least one instance, an ethnic media organization weighed in with commentary wondering why it has taken the government so long to wake upThe comment from the Punjab Guardian in Surrey, B.C. on July 4 is noteworthy. Responding to repeated government warnings that agents from Russia, China and Saudi Arabia may try to interfere with the elections, the paper responded with this wisecrack: “It needs to be remembered that Canadian Sikhs have been telling the Canadian government and Canadian media about it for a long time.

However, security agencies have accepted for the first time that foreign interference is occurring. Now that security agencies are openly expressing their concerns about it, the government should take some serious steps in this regard.

Sowing confusion over voting rights

The instance of “voter fraud” appears to have been based on a genuine Facebook post by Truro, N.S., woman, but quickly morphed into a clear case of disinformation. This case received coverage in Portuguese, Mandarin and Filipino media at the end of AugustAfter the Truro woman posted about receiving four voter registration letters addressed to international students who had been rooming in her home, bad actors used their own social media accounts to imply that Elections Nova Scotia were wrongly adding non-citizens to the voters’ list. The Atin Ito daily’s reporting for its Filipino audience was typical, “It turns out there’s a simple explanation for the letters, but the confusion is just one example of misinformation circulating online that’s stoking fears around voter fraud as Canadians head closer to the federal election.”

The same stories also mentioned the voting rights recently given back to Canadians living abroad (“expats”), but that fact was distorted to suggest that over two million people who were not citizens were being allowed to vote on Oct. 21.

Last June’s Ipsos survey on “fake news” got wide coverage, according to NCM’s analysis. The survey, in which 90 per cent of respondents confessed to being fooled by “fake news” – a rate slightly higher than their international and North American cousins – was reported by an Italian publication, four different Tamil media organizations, a Punjabi outleta Filipino newspaperMuslim Link and a weekly Urdu weekly paper in Montreal, Nawai-Pakistan.

Reporting on the survey, the Urdu paper referred to “Russian trolls  trying to stoke divisions among Canadians by tweeting fake news stories and Islamophobic statements after the Québec mosque shootings in 2017,” warning that a similar threat exists leading up to the October election.

Apathy is Boring’s campaign to equip youth with tools to distinguish between credible and fake news was covered by media serving the South Asian community and Chinese diaspora. The Canadian Parvasi’s coverage from Mississauga was typical: The “group wants young voters ‘to think critically about what they’re seeing online and why it might be spreading.’ The federal government has set up a team of top civil servants who will monitor the election for foreign interference and alert the public if necessary. Parties have also been given secret briefings on how to protect themselves and their candidates from online misinformation.

Range of foreign actors

In mid-July, The Canadian Press quoted documents to suggest “China and India trying to use their respective ethnic communities in Canada to advance their own agendas. This got surprisingly little coverage – just three outlets in Cantonese and South Asian outlets. The reports specifically cited a series of tactics, including “cyberattacks, efforts to spread misinformation and using diaspora communities, either directly or indirectly, to steal technology, influence elections and target Canada’s economy, infrastructure and democratic institutions.”

A University of Calgary academic’s warning on Russia’s election meddling found mention in a South Asian publication and Russian Week published from Toronto. Sergey Sukhankin’s study was quoted as saying:

Perceived as one of Russia’s chief adversaries in the Arctic region, Canada is a prime target in the information wars, with Russia potentially even meddling in the October 2019 federal election. Ottawa should be ready for a new surge in cyberattacks, disinformation and propaganda levelled against Canada in the near future.”

Russian Week reported that disinformation about Canada will focus on three main areas: ridiculing Canada’s military presence in Latvia as part of NATO’s deterrent against Russia, portraying the country as a “useful satellite” of the U.S., and calling it a testing ground for “immoral Western values” because of its support of same-sex marriage and the legalization of cannabis.

Atin Ito, a Filipino publication in English, cited suspicious social media activity in the run-up to the Alberta provincial election as foreshadowing the period before Oct. 21. The online site reported on Sept. 7 that although malicious accounts clearly acted in sync during the April provincial election, there is no evidence to suggest this social media activity affected the Alberta election outcome. However, the Hamdard Daily in Punjabi reported on its front page that although investigators had identified a large number of fake social media accounts in the run up to the Alberta poll, there was no evidence of “foreign interference” – all of the accounts were identified as Canadian.

‘Censorship is coming’

Our analysis also revealed a rather unusual opinion from the Polish language Wiadomosci weekly published from Toronto, on June 6. This editorial seemed to conflate a whole host of issues, concluding that the Liberal government supports internet censorship. Here is the translated comment, verbatim: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is introducing a digital charter in Canada that will impose consequences on tech companies if they do not rein in misinformation on their platforms. It is a form of internet censorship that the Liberal government is introducing even though officially, Trudeau says that freedom of speech “is fundamental to our democracies.” In addition, Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould announced she had managed to persuade high-tech companies to censor the internet in the upcoming political election, with the guidance of a new declaration on “electoral integrity.” The opposition feels that this is being done for political reasons. Trudeau already ensured main media support by giving them more than $500,000 of public money to “help selected news outlets.” 

This news analysis has been created as a service to readers who wish to follow news and commentary in languages other than English and French, in partnership with MIREMS and

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Punjabi Connection: NDP’s leader’s Q&A with ethnic media highlights influence of the community

Original story source Calgary Sun Sept. 13, 2019

The ability to communicate with ethnic media is particularly important at the individual riding level, since most ethnic media are focused on specific communities, according to Silke Reichrath, the editor- in- chief at MIREMS, a group that monitors and tracks ethnic media.

And like English- and French-language media, Punjabi and other ethnic media also make decisions to focus more or less on candidates, said Reichrath, who is also part of Diversity Votes, a project examining the impact of ethnic media and diverse communities on the election.

“Sometimes you get two or three Punjabi candidates from different parties, and these may be from different factions within the community” and receive varying levels of attention from outlets, Reichrath said.

She said the Portuguese community in the Toronto riding of Davenport constitutes a meaningful voting bloc. So do the Chinese communities in several Markham, Ont., ridings and Edmonton Mill Woods (won in a very tight race in 2015 by Liberal Amarjeet Sohi).

Reichrath also said the fact that this year’s election debates (including Thursday’s Maclean’s debate) will be translated live for Punjabi speakers will be “very significant to get them involved” in the democratic process.

The Maclean’s debate will also be translated into Mandarin and Cantonese, while the October debates organized by a broad partnership of media outlets will also be offered in several other languages, including Arabic and Italian. And on top of those national debates, ethnic media often organize all-candidates debates and town halls at the local level, Reichrath said.

Ethnic Media Election Coverage 8-14 September 2019

This week about 230 election-related articles were analysed.

Major issues covered:

Campaign: As expected, the official start of the campaign and the initial messaging and positioning of the main parties dominated campaign-related coverage. Other aspects receiving significant coverage included the fundraising weakness of the NDP, a number of information articles regarding voting registration and procedures, expanded voting rights for Canadian expatriates no matter how long they had been absent from Canada and previous barriers to voting faced by Chinese Canadians:

“…although voting rights for Chinese Canadians did not come easily, it seems like Chinese Canadians don’t seem to care about voting. In the last general elections, the Chinese Canadian voter turnout rate was very low; it was far lower than other ethnic minorities such as Indian and Muslims. It is only when Chinese Canadians become a whole that they will be valued greatly by others. We are Chinese Canadian and that should be our common label and common interest. On October 21, for the benefit of the Chinese, let us all vote together!” (Chinese,


  • Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill: Leona Alleslev, former Liberal and current CPC MP, was profiled.
  • Beauce: The Rhinoceros Party’s plans to run a candidate also named Maxime Berner to run against the PPC leader.
  • Brampton Centre: Baljit Bawa, PPC candidate, was questioned regarding PPC immigration policies in a city where most residents are immigrants of visible minorities:
  • “Referring to the increasing crime rate, Bawa cited the increasing number of immigrants and refugees coming to Canada as a possible reason. He talked in particular about asylum seekers coming to Canada from across the border. They don’t have enough background checks. …The PPC wants to stop all the loopholes in Canada’s immigration system…Bawa said that the PPC is not anti-immigrant, but aimed at ˜pure and truer immigrants” (Punjabi, WTOR 770 AM Radio South Asian Pulse Prime Time)
  • Brampton West: Murarilal Thapliyal, CPC candidate, campaign office launch was covered.
  • Don Valley North: Sarah Fischer, CPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Dufferin-Caledon: Kyle Seeback, CPC candidate’s nomination was challenged by runner-up Barb Shaughnessy in an email blast, with Seeback considering legal action.
  • Eglinton-Lawrence: Marco Mendicino, Liberal MP and candidate, was interviewed by the Corriere Canadese:
  • “Mendicino also discusses the Liberal government’s efforts to protect Italian culture in Canada and to help seniors through the CPP and GIS. He is concerned about what is happening at Villa Colombo, where the Ford administration’s cuts are putting assistance to seniors at risk.” (Italian, Corriere Canadese)
  • Kingston and the Islands: Barrington Walker Jr., NDP candidate, was profiled.
  • LaSalle—Émard—Verdun: David Lametti, Justice Minister and Liberal candidate, was profiled:
  • “With regard to immigration, everybody from the Indigenous peoples to the French to the English to the Italians, Lametti says, has helped make Canada a welcoming and inclusive nation that respects human rights and religious diversity.” (Italian, Corriere Canadese, ironic given Quebec’s Bill 21)
  • Laval-Les Iles: Tom Pentefoundas, CPC candidate’s inauguration of his campaign office was attended by CPC leader Scheer.
  • Markham Stouffville: Former Liberal minister and current independent MP Jane Philpott commented on abortion:
  • “[She] is standing by the pledge she made as a Liberal candidate to support access to abortion despite her beliefs, but accuses her former party of playing politics with a deeply personal issue.” (South Asian English, The Canadian Parvasi)
  • Markam Thornhill: Mary Ng, Small Business Minister and LPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Markham-Unionville: Current MP and CPC candidate Bob Saroya, and Alan Ho, LPC candidate, were profiled.
  • Oakville: Anita Anand, LPC candidate, attended a fundraising with Liberal leader Trudeau.
  • Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel: Controversy regarding the former Liberal candidate Hassan Guillet continued, with both Guillet and former Liberal MP Di Iorio complaints receiving coverage, along with the appointment of the nomination runner-up, Patricia Lattanzio.
  • Regina Qu’Appelle: Andrew Scheer, CPC leader, was profiled.
  • Scarborough Agincourt: Jean Yip, MP and LPC candidate, was profiled (Yip succeeded her late MP husband Arnold Chan in a by-election). Sean Hu, CPC candidate, was also profiled.
  • Scarborough North: Sean Chen, Liberal MP and candidate, was profiled. David Kong, CPC candidate, was also profiled.
  • Spadina-Fort York: Frank Fang, CPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Surrey: Harjit Gill, NDP candidate, was profiled.
  • Surrey Centre: Randeep Sarai, Liberal MP and candidate, was profiled.
  • Vaughan-Woodbridge: Francesco Sorbara, Liberal MP and candidate, was profiled.
  • Waterloo: Jerry Zhang, CPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Windsor West: Sandra Pupatello, former Ontario provincial cabinet minister and Liberal candidate, was profiled.

Foreign interference: Studies by the Rapid Response Mechanism Team and Sergey Sukhankin of University of Calgary warning of foreign interference, the former with respect to cyber-attacks and social media, the latter with respect to Russia and its interest in dominating the Arctic, received widespread coverage.

Immigration: PPC proposed immigration policies continued to receive largely critical coverage. The NDP’s proposal to increase settlement funding to Quebec was also covered.

“Experts say there is a niche group of voters in the 905 area of the GTA, a lot of them first-generation Canadians and new Canadians, who have an issue with asylum seekers walking over the border because they see these people as queue jumping. That group could be the focus for the Conservatives.” (Caribbean, G 98.7 FM Mark & Jem in the Morning)

Polls: Recent polls by Abacus Data, Ipsos (increase in populist and anti-immigration attitudes) and Nanos Research (preparedness for a change in government) were covered.

Leaders’ debate: Liberal leader Trudeau’s decision to skip the Macleans/City TV and Munk debates received neutral coverage.

Ethnic vote: Joe Volpe, former federal immigration minister in the Martin government (2005-6) continued a series of commentaries, conspiratorial in nature, reflecting a perceived loss of influence of Italian Canadians:

“Political parties see each other as adversaries rather than enemies. The real enemies are in their own ranks. The Conservative Party is legendary for the precarious position of its leaders: Bernier, Ford and Kenney vs. Scheer. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau has his nemesis: the “Deputy Prime Minister of Brampton.” Nav Bains, whose family runs the World Sikh Organization (which promotes the independence of the Indian state of Punjab), has put his followers in key positions within the party. He seems to have a stranglehold on Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen: in the last four years, 180,925 Indian applicants – 22.5% of all immigrants – have received Canadian permanent residence while Italians, Portuguese and Poles have been kept at under 0.05% a year. Bains’ detractors claim this is part of a plan to populate Canada with supporters for the impending leadership race to replace Trudeau. Some party supporters worry about foreign elements influencing the upcoming political elections because Hindus, presumably encouraged by political activism at home, appear determined to vote against parties supported by Sikhs.” (Italian, Corriere Canadese) [Note: Visible minority immigrants have formed about 80 percent of all immigrants for the past 20 years)

Other articles included the importance of the ethnic media, improved understanding of the Canadian political system, and the risks of identity politics (religious and ethnic).

Cost of living: The Conservative overall focus on cost of living issues, including making EI parental benefits tax deductible, continued to be covered. The Liberal campaign promise for an expansion of the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) and the establishment of a national vacancy tax on homes to help curb foreign speculation in the housing market were also covered.

Abortion: In addition to continuing coverage of the Conservative pledge not to reopen the abortion debate, Green leader Elizabeth May’s position that Green MPs would not be prohibited from re-opening the debate on abortion despite her personal support for abortion rights.

China: Coverage included PM Trudeau’s comment on China’s use of arbitrary detention, CPC leader Scheer’s statement that PM Trudeau would not participate in the Munk foreign policy debate as he was “afraid” of his own record, and former Ontario cabinet minister Chan’s rebuttal to criticism of his perceived taking the Chinese government side in a demonstration supporting Hong Kong protestors: “Chan said that he spoke against the violence and in support of the unity, peace and prosperity of Hong Kong.” (Chinese,

Other: Other issues that received some coverage included climate change, cyber security and same sex marriage.

Andrew Griffith, ethnic media provided by MIREMS


Petition for National Diabetes Strategy urges action in the fight against diabetes

Strategy includes recommendations to support high-risk communities

TORONTO, Ont. (September 10, 2019) – In 2018, Diabetes Canada released a report on how implementing a diabetes strategy could help governments take action to help manage and reduce the risk of diabetes, including recommendations for ethnic groups who are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Although there has been strong momentum, it hasn’t been enough to persuade government to implement the strategy which is why the Diabetes 360° Petition has been launched to help showcase the support of Canadians and get the attention of all parties and candidates running in the upcoming federal election.

“Diabetes is a complex and challenging disease that brings with it many serious health challenges and that disproportionately affects certain groups of Canadians,” says Charlene Lavergne, Indigenous diabetes advocate and person living with type 2 diabetes. “People of certain ethnic backgrounds are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, specifically people of African, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Indigenous and South Asian descent.”

Diabetes 3600 is an evidence-based, community-developed strategy that has the potential to reduce the human burden of this rapidly escalating disease and the unsustainable pressure on the health-care system.

Recommendations that have special relevance for people at risk of diabetes due to ethnicity:

  1. Healthy Eating Strategy measures like making the Canada Food Guide inclusive of all cultural dietary patterns and available in 26 languages will make it easier for people to eat a healthy, culturally appropriate diet and prevent diabetes and its complications.
  2. Culturally appropriate tools will be developed in collaboration with ethnic communities at higher risk of diabetes to support them in preventing diabetes and its complications.
  3. Greater adherence to the Clinical Practice Guidelines for screening will mean that people of African, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Indigenous or South Asian descent are screened regularly for diabetes. Improvements in treatment will ensure that everyone gets culturally relevant care when and where they need it.
  4. A patient portal will help Canadians access community-based supports for diabetes self-management in their language, in their culture and in their community.

Diabetes 360° is a framework that is intended to be implemented differently in each province and territory, and possibly in each community, based on their unique priorities and needs. This is to ensure the requirements of each group at higher risk of diabetes due to ethnicity are well met.

About Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves. The body needs insulin to use sugar as an energy source.

 About Diabetes Canada

Diabetes Canada is the registered national charitable organization that is making the invisible epidemic of diabetes visible and urgent. Diabetes Canada partners with Canadians to End Diabetes through:

  • Resources for health care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
  • Advocacy to governments, schools and workplaces; and
  • Funding world-leading Canadian research to improve treatments and find a cure.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).

Ethnic Media Election Coverage 1-7 September 2019

This week about 180 election-related articles were analysed.

Major issues covered:

Campaign: Main issues covered factual information pieces such as campaign length, registration process for political parties (provoked by the far-right Canadian Nationalist Party), the campaign by Canadian Alliance of Student Associations to increase the youth vote, and political posturing around the Conservative video featuring former PM Harper.

The respective positions of the NDP and Green Party regarding supporting a minority government were also covered:

“… a tight race between the Conservatives and the Liberals, with no more than a percentage point between them on average, both in the low 30s. The most likely outcome, if this holds: a minority Parliament of some kind, with neither party capable of governing on its own. Next, consider the likely strategies of the two major parties in response. The Liberals will do what they nearly always do: paint the Conservatives as racists, Nazis and worse, the better to frighten NDP and Green supporters into voting Grit as the only way to stop the Tories.” (South Asian English, Asian Tribune)


General candidate coverage focussed on the number of nominated candidates by party (particularly the low number of NDP candidates), the defection of NDP candidates in New Brunswick to the Green Party and the back and forth between the two parties and the initial numbers of women candidates, particularly the significantly increase of Conservative women candidates (about one-third).

  • Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel: The withdrawal of the Liberal nomination of Hassan Guillet over his anti-semitic and anti-Israel social media posts, along with his complaints regarding the accusations and process, received widespread coverage in Italian media.

“Political parties usually vet their candidates before choosing them; so, what happened this time? According to the author, a party that wants to continue governing should not fail to carry out the necessary background check. The Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) got rid of its candidate quickly because the winds of change are blowing in the riding and the Tories are now competitive. No one should be surprised by what is happening in Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel because of the LPC’s failure to apologize [for World War II restrictions], its disorderly immigration policy, its legalization of cannabis, higher taxes for the middle class, and the rising federal debt. As for the next Liberal candidate, we can expect more candy, but Trudeau’s candies for the Italian community are just pranks.” (Italian, Il Cittadino Canadese)

  • Beauce: A profile of the riding highlighted the small numbers of immigrants in PPC leader Bernier’s riding but that labour shortages were becoming a local issue.
  • Brampton: Coverage focussed on Conservative candidate Ramona Singh (Brampton East) and Liberal MP Kamal Khera (Brampton West). Brampton Centre MP Ramesh Sangha attracted the most media attention given his interview stating that the Liberals were hampering relations with India:

“He accused his fellow caucus members of being in favour of an independent Punjab, called Khalistan. This is a topic that has been frustrating Trudeau for the past two years, with Indian officials also accusing Trudeau of the same softness for Punjabi independence.” (Punjabi, OMNI 2 TV 8:00 PM South Asian Today)

Brampton Centre has the lowest percentage of Canadian Sikhs of the five Brampton ridings (7.8 percent), with the other ridings ranging from 13 to 33.8 percent). Other significant religious groups include Muslims and Hindus (8.5 and 9.6 percent respectively), all figures from the 2011 NHS. Sangha himself is Hindu.

  • Burnaby South: NDP leader Singh’s nomination received further coverage.
  • Calgary Forest Lawn: Jasraj Singh Hallan defeated, Aman Obhrai, the son of former Calgary Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai.
  • Markam Thornhill: Alex Yuan, CPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Markham-Unionville: Alan Ho, LPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Mississauga Centre: Milad Mikael, CPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Mississauga Lakeshore: Stella Amber, CPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Riviere-du-Nord: Further coverage of CPC star candidate Sylvie Fréchette did not discuss the party position on abortion.
  • Scarborough North: Yan Chen, CPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Scarborough Southwest: Kimberly Smith, CPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Toronto Centre: Ryan Lester, CPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Toronto Danforth: Zia Choudhary, CPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Wellington Halton: Conservative MP Michael Chong, CPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Whitby: Todd McCarthy, CPC candidate, was profiled.
  • Windsor West: Henry Lau, CPC candidate, was profiled.

Same Sex Marriage: Coverage continued of the 2005 video of CPC leader Scheer explaining his opposition to same sex marriage to a number of language groups.

One thing people need to know about Scheer is that he is a devout Catholic and he upholds his faith with great fervour, unlike Trudeau who pretends to be Catholic by receiving Communion even if he is not practising. What’s next? Telling Jagmeet Singh to eat meat just to show support for the meat-eating people of Canada? And if he refuses, will he be called a bigot, discriminatory and ineligible to rule the country because he abides by the practice of his Sikh faith of not consuming meat? If he rejects eating meat, does that mean he hates meat-eaters? In a world where the truth belongs only to the ones who are in charge and who are loud criers and whiners, there is no room to silently contemplate what is real and true. (Filipino, 10000Twice)

Abortion: The CPC position on abortion was also frequently mentioned in articles that focussed on same sex marriage. Coverage this week focussed on the Campaign Life Coalition’s disappointment with the clarification of CPC position:

“Fonseca said Scheer’s speech ‘suggest[ed] he may in fact use intimidation or threats to prevent MPs from bringing forward pro-life private members’ business, or to coerce his caucus to vote against such measures, which for many would be to vote against their own consciences.’ If a Prime Minister Scheer did use threats to keep the caucus in line, that would amount to ‘betrayal’ of the anti-abortion movement, Fonseca said.” (Chinese, Ming Pao Toronto)

Climate change:  Coverage continued on opposition to the carbon tax by the governments of Ontario and Saskatchewan, along with the gas station stickers in Ontario as well as concerns by scientists and environmental groups regarding Elections Canada’s rules on public discussion.

Cost of living: While coverage focussed on the Conservative commitment to give new parents a non-refundable tax credit of 15 per cent on EI income and commitments by all three parties to reduce cell phone costs, a number of related economic issues were also mentioned, including the respective commitments of the three major party leaders at Hamilton’s Labour Day parade (e.g., federal minimum wage by the NDP and skills training by the Liberals). One article in Punjabi mentioned the challenges of the trucking industry.

Ethnic vote: Coverage focussed on general voting issues and making an informed choice (“cast your vote, but don’t vote your caste” (Punjabi, Chin FM 91.9 Ramz Punjabi).

In Muslim media:

“…our people, many of whom are not aware of the political system, are herded to the polls like cattle and eventually vote for a party or candidate that would not benefit our community. Rather we must vote based on a party’s platform or the candidate’s abilities. At times, our community members realize after the fact that a certain individual using his or her unique position in a Muslim organization is influencing our sacred decision. Unfortunately, by the time we realize, it is too late.” (Muslim, al Ameen)

Italian dissatisfaction at being taken for granted was noted by former Liberal Immigration Minister Joe Volpe:

“Hussen represents York South Weston, a riding with an Italian community large enough to influence the outcome of the next elections. Under his leadership, IRCC has put up obstacles to immigration from Italy” (Italian, Corriere Canadese).

One article focused on the Chinese Canadian vote in greater Vancouver,

Voter fraud: Coverage focussed on the Nova Scotia example of one woman received four student registration cards (Elections Nova Scotia, not Elections Canada).

China: The appointment of Dominic Barton as Ambassador to China was noted.

Immigration: Two anti-immigration commentaries occurred in Punjabi media:

“Every day there are reports about immigration fraud, fake IELTS rankings, fake job offers, misuse of student programs,  exploitation of the refugee program etc. in the print and electronic media but the government is paying no attention to these.” (Punjabi, Khabarnama Punjabi Weekly)

Andrew Griffith, ethnic media provided by MIREMS

Ethnic Media Election Coverage 25-31 August 2019

This week about 220 election-related articles were analysed.

Major issues covered:

Third parties: Third party advertising dominated coverage in virtually all language groups given outrage over the anti-immigration and pro-Bernier billboards of True North Strong and Free Advertising. Coverage included Bernier’s endorsement and railing against the “totalitarian leftist mob” for the decision by Pattison Outdoor Advertising to take down the billboards. The fact that no person or organization took responsibility for approving their content was noted (hard to believe given their $60,000 cost).

Campaign: The unveiling of the Conservative and Liberal campaign slogans received the most coverage. The book, Assessing Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Government, analyzing the degree to which the Trudeau and Harper governments delivered on their election promises received moderate coverage (showing that both largely did but the Harper government more so). Campaign financing violations by two Quebec companies (Axor) and the resulting fines received some coverage.

“The Conservatives misguide people to believe that pipelines can create jobs and they ignore the economic potential of green energy, transition policies and the disastrous effects of climate change as a whole. The best strategy to fight right-wing populism is not wishy-washy liberalism, but having a social democratic party which can bravely and confidently deal with issues such as climate change, an unstable economy and worsening inequality.” (Korean, CNDreams)

The importance of the youth vote in determining election outcomes along with the Apathy is Boring initiative received considerable coverage.


  • Beauce: PPC leader Bernier’s comments that he was “not fazed” by a riding level poll showing him in a dead heat with the Conservative candidate, former mayor, Richard Lehoux was reported.
  • Brampton: Conservative candidates Arpan Khanna (Brampton North), Ramona Singh (Brampton East), Ramandeep Brar (Brampton South) launched their campaigns and received significant coverage in South Asian media. Liberal MPs seeking re-election, Sonia, Sidhu, Ruby Sahota and Kamal Khera attending a barbecue with Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown (former Ontario PC leader) was covered.
  • Calgary Forest Lawn: Aman Obhrai is seeking the party’s nomination to replace his father, former Calgary Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai.
  • Central Nova: Country music star, George Canyon, Conservative, received coverage regarding retaking this traditionally Conservative seat (former minister Peter McKay’s seat).
  • Longueuil-Saint-Hubert: MP Pierre Nantel’s leaving the NDP to run for the Green Party received further coverage.
  • Markam Thornhill: Liberal MP Mary Ng continued her op-eds promoting the government’s achievements with Doug Ford being the bogeyman:

“In the name of austerity policies and prudent finances, Doug Ford’s cuts already cut the dreams of setting up a university campus in Markham. They also forced high school students to stand up and protest against the proposed increase in class size and decline in the quality of education. There’s no doubt that if Andrew Scheer gets the chance to do so, he will also follow the steps of his friend Ford.” (Chinese,

  • Mississauga-Malton: Tom Varughese, CPC candidate stressed Conservative plans to remove the federal income tax from employment insurance (EI) maternity and paternal benefits to assist families:

“Varughese further said in his letter that Justin Trudeau said he would help the middle class, but the last four years show that he is not as advertised. He raised taxes on 80 per cent of middle-class families and brought in a carbon tax that makes everyday essentials more expensive. Andrew Scheer has a plan to help young families get ahead and keep more of their hard earned money.” (Punjabi, Canadian Punjabi Post)

  • Mississauga-Streetsville: The controversy over anti-LGTBQ posts on the personal website of Ghada Melek, CPC candidate, was noted.
  • Riviere-du-Nord: The announcement that former Olympic synchronized swimming champion Sylvie Fréchette would be a star Conservative candidate was marred by the controversy over abortion (see below). BQ MP Rhéal Fortin won in 2015 (margin 1.9 percent over the NDP), with Conservatives far behind in fourth place.
  • Vimy: The refusal by the Liberal party to approve the candidacy of MP Eva Nassif received further coverage with the local Liberal association complaining of being “left in the dark.”
  • Elections Canada voter procedures and information were noted.

Same Sex Marriage: The 2005 video of CPC leader Scheer explaining his opposition to same sex marriage shared by the Liberals was covered extensively particularly in Chinese language media. His assurance that he supports the law and his refusal to state whether his views have evolved were noted. NDP leader Singh’s statement that he would not support a Conservative minority government given Scheer’s views was also covered.

Cost of living: Extensive coverage continued on CPC leader Scheer’s announcement of their platform commitment to give new parents a non-refundable tax credit of 15 per cent on EI income was widely reported. One commentator noted:

“The government should help families to raise their children, and not try to solve people’s ‘gender’ problems, or support the ideology of feminism. … The author says that “assessing this initiative, it should be noted that support of families with children is the best manifestation of state feminism.” (Russian, Russian Express)

Proposals by all three major parties to address cell phone costs were noted. One commentator noted that banning Huawei would result in higher cell phone costs

Climate change: In addition to ongoing coverage of Elections Canada rules on discussing climate change, Environment Minister McKenna’s stating that the amount of the carbon tax would be reviewed in 2022 and consequent back and further with Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre was covered.

“McKenna accidentally told the truth. She admitted that if re-elected the carbon tax would go much higher than Liberals previously said.” (Punjabi, Canadian Punjabi Post)

Ontario Premier Ford’s statement that he would drop the carbon tax court challenge should the Conservatives win was noted, along with polling that showed voters being concerned but less willing to pay more to combat climate change.

Polls: The Angus Reid poll, identifying the top three issues for Canadians—climate change, healthcare, taxes— and that the ethnics commissioner’s report on SNC-Lavalin had not adversely affected the Liberals, drew the most coverage. Ipsos and Léger polls showing a similar lack of impact and a dead heat between the Conservatives and Liberals were covered. The Digital Democracy Project’s overall findings of dissatisfaction with Canadian politicians and the limited impact of voting received some coverage.

Abortion: Confusion between CPC leader Scheer and his Quebec lieutenant Alain Rayes over whether Conservative MPs would be free or not to introduce anti-abortion bills drew considerable coverage. Coverage included Conservative star candidate Sylvie Fréchette following Rayes understanding that individual MPs would not be able to table anti-immigration bills as well as Scheer’s clarification that that MPs would be free to do so.

“I [Fréchette]can confirm that it’s false. It’s false. It’s totally false” (Filipino, Philippine Canadian Inquirer)

One article noted that the Conservative party would not be able to prevent its MPs:

”Such a scenario is virtually guaranteed, given the number of pro-life MPs on the Conservative team. The current Conservative caucus has 44 pro-life members out of 95, and 34 are running for re-election this fall.” (Italian, CFMB AM 1280 Italian Morning)

Ethnic vote: A number of articles discussed the general importance of the ethnic media and ethnic votes. Visits by Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez met with the Hispanic community to discuss fake news and efforts to increase voter turnout.

Trade: Former Conservative Ambrose’s disagreement with CPC leader Scheer’s “assertion that Canada got taken to the cleaners by Donald Trump on the renegotiated NAFTA” (South Asian English, The Canadian Parvasi) was widely covered (Ambrose was on the government advisory panel).

Andrew Griffith, ethnic media provided by MIREMS

When Liberal inclusiveness meets home-country conflict

Similar to the mainstream media, the race of the two giants, the Liberals and the Conservatives, is what catches the ethnic media’s attention. Out of the over six hundred stories related to the upcoming federal elections MIREMS identified in the ethnic media over the month of August, over half were about the Liberals and Prime Minister Trudeau.

Almost half of those stories (152) were from the Chinese media, followed closely by the South Asian media with 131 stories. This reflects the fact that these two population groups are the largest ethnic communities in Canada, with the most developed local media including daily radio and TV programs and daily papers. They are also politically engaged communities, fielding numerous candidates and actively participating in local dialogue and voting.

Much of the coverage centred around similar items as in the mainstream media: the latest poll results, candidates, slogans, advertising and fundraising. Liberal positions on the major issues like climate change, affordability, infrastructure, etc. got relatively limited coverage, although government funding announcements were covered. A particular focus across languages and ethnicities was the SNC Lavalin affair, with the release of the Ethics Commissioners report, Trudeau’s response and the observation that the report had little effect on the polls. Premiers Kenney and Ford were mentioned, with Kenney campaigning against the Liberals and Trudeau highlighting Ford’s unpopular funding cuts in association with the federal Conservatives’ expected policies.

“The ethnic media have, however, additional areas of interest in comparison to the mainstream media. An obvious one is the area of immigration.”

The majority of the coverage here related to complaints mostly in the Chinese media over how the Syrian refugees admitted when Trudeau first came to power are now gaining citizenship and therefore voting rights. Other reports, including an interview with Immigration Minister Hussen on OMNI BC TV Mandarin, emphasized that the Liberals will continue promoting immigration and multiculturalism (Vancouver, 2 August 2019).

Additional focal points are the relationship of any given ethnic community to the party. The daily Italian paper Corriere Canadese cited NDP Candidate Maria Augimeri as describing the Trudeau government as disappointing due to the lack of a significant Italian presence in his administration and its insensitivity to the immigration of Italians (Toronto, 1 August 2019). The South Asian English Darpan Magazine endorsed Black Vote Canada’s call for more Black candidates in winnable ridings (Vancouver, 16 August 2019). The Polish newspaper Puls published a two-page interview with the Polish-Canadian Conservative candidate Ted Opitz, who said that Trudeau does not represent Polish values because he once commented he admired the Chinese dictatorship (Mississauga, 16 August 2019).

Numerous Punjabi media including the daily paper Canadian Punjabi Post returned attention to Trudeau’s ill-fated trip to India with a report on a book to be released about the misadventure and pointers to Gerald Butts’ claim that the Indian government tried to “screw the Liberals” to help their Conservative rivals because of a perception that the Liberals tolerate Khalistani pro-independence activism (Toronto, 2 August 2019). Channel Y South Asian 360 Punjabi TV held a panel discussion on the book; panel members considered the India trip a failure but said it was absurd to blame the India government (Toronto, 2 August 2019).

Foreign policy made up nine percent of the captured coverage, and half of the stories were about the Liberal government’s relationship to China.

Party positions on homeland matters and the relationship of homeland governments to a party are often areas of interest in the ethnic media. Concerns were raised about the Liberals not being tough enough on China, Huawei’s involvement in Canada’s 5G network, former ambassador McCallum calling on China to be more accommodating towards the Liberal government to avoid a Conservative election victory and government responses to the protests in Hong Kong. Conservative candidates held a roundtable with Chinese media to criticize the Liberals’ inability to get Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor released, which was covered by Chinese media including the national daily Sing Tao (Vancouver, 8 August 2019). The daily Chinese websites in Toronto and in Vancouver wondered whether Trudeau has the time, ability and motivation to meet the demands of Hong Kongers in Halifax to help Hong Kong protesters (18 August 2019). Meanwhile, the daily Chinese newscast on Talent Vision Canada reported that Liberal membership forms were distributed at a pro-Beijing rally in Toronto, although a Liberal spokesman said the forms were old forms not currently valid (Toronto, 23 August 2019).

Keeping an eye on the ethnic media can be invaluable in identifying and counter-acting these very specific angles and responses from specific ethnic communities to government or candidate announcements and positions.

Ethnic media and the environmental challenge: How Green is May’s valley?

Back in December 2018, National Post’s John Ivison wondered whether really, finally, truly, 2019 could be the year Elizabeth May’s Green Party broke through, saying it is an appeal that might find a sympathetic audience. On the other hand, he said the Greens could just as easily pass from rising hopes to has-beens.

As we approach the final run nine months later, we looked for evidence of the rise of the Green Party in the ethnic media. In trying to provide a snapshot of coverage on Elizabeth May and the Green Party, we used word counts in a compilation of more than 650 stories collected from ethnic media sources that dealt with the 2019 federal election.

The answer to the headline question is that while 27% of respondents to a recent national poll consider environmental issues to be key to their voting decisions, reflected by more than 200 mentions of the environment, climate change and global warming in our story collection, Elizabeth May was mentioned fewer than thirty times.

In total, and related to all issues, Andrew Scheer’s name appeared more than 560 times, Justin Trudeau’s more than 630, and Maxime Bernier had 208 mentions. Jagmeet Singh with 80 topped Elizabeth May’s mentions, even though the polls suggest she has double the percentage of support at 14%.

What is it about the Green Party (mentioned a bare 80 times, against 770 for the Conservatives, 560 for the Liberals, 120 for the PPC and 130 for the NDP) and its message that seems to have failed to capture the imagination of the ethnic media?

After a brief and surprised flurry of interest after the Nanaimo-Ladysmith win, May and the Greens slid off the map, to become a sidebar mention in other issues – unfortunately few of them related to Green Party policies and positions, and even fewer connecting with key immigrant community concerns.

At least 24 of the May mentions were related to the Pierre Nantel move to the Party, while others were side mentions in the Bernier TV debate dispute, cameo appearances in the Vancouver Pride Parade condemnation of Scheer’s absence, and to protest Elections Canada’s warning to environmentalist groups.

In contrast, immigration and immigrants were mentioned more than 300 times in our story collection, none of them in conjunction with May’s name. Whatever the Green echo chamber, the ethnic media and its issues do not seem to be part of the conversation, and that is bad for both sides.

In fact, after brief mentions in August on Fairchild TV BC’s daily Cantonese news (07/08/2019) of Green Party leader Elizabeth May’s plan to help workers in the gas and oil sector transition to a renewable energy economy, called Mission: Possible, which was released in May, there has been little if any coverage of the Green Party platform even on this subject.

It will be interesting to see if the October 3 environmental issues debate in 117 ridings scheduled for October 3 by GreenPAC, a non-partisan organization dedicated to electing environmentalist candidates (Sing Tao Vancouver, 10/08/2019, Chinese), will attract ethnic media attention. It may just take an invitation.

One riding that might deserve special attention from Quebec’s close to a hundred multilingual media outlets is Longueuil–Saint-Hubert, as Pierre Nantel, the former NDP MP, becomes the Green Party candidate for a riding with a growing African, Arab and Latino population. While French is the predominant language, with English only at 4%, Spanish claims 2% of speakers. It is a riding in which the Greens had a bare 3% in the 2015 election, with Liberals and NDP running neck to neck at ten times that number, the NDP winning by a bare percentage point, and the Bloc a close third. It looks like every vote will count. Of the riding’s population just over a hundred thousand, 17% claim visible minority status, with almost 30% of recent immigration coming from Morocco, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Algeria in Central Africa and Haiti.

Shortly after being booted from the NDP, Nantel tweeted in French that his priorities remain the same: Quebec and the climate. The Green Party has had a banner year in both fundraising and polling, fueling speculation about a strong performance by the party in the fall election, reports the Canadian Punjabi Post Daily (Toronto, 20/08/2019). He said he believes Green Party leader Elizabeth May is the only federal leader willing to truly tackle climate issues. “There are two choices: the status quo with the Liberals and the Conservatives or there’s the alternative. And I think factually, for no matter who is looking at the climate situation, the person who embodies that, it’s obviously Ms. May” (The Canadian Parvasi Daily – Mississauga, 19/08/2019).

We hope the message reaches multilingual media audiences.

(~870 words, Andres Machalski, President, MIREMS Ltd., with files from


Silence on Singh

The vast majority of ethnic media elections coverage captured for is focused on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, while NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is often only briefly mentioned or included as an afterthought.

The most widespread story in the ethnic media on the NDP in August was the brief mention of Jagmeet Singh participating in the federal election leaders’ debates. The main topic of these stories was, of course, the exclusion of People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier from the debates.

Reporting on recent polls, the Toronto-based Punjabi newspaper Sikh Spokesman reported that the NDP and Green Party both have 12% support. On a positive note, the article indicated that some political experts are expecting the Punjabi community will support the NDP, especially in the Brampton and Vancouver-Surrey area, because it is the first time in Canadian history that a Sikh leader is part of the race to become prime minister of Canada.

Picking up on the theme of a minority candidate running to be prime minister, another Punjabi newspaper in Toronto, Hamdard Daily, highlighted that The Toronto Star has come under some serious heat for an insensitive tweet about NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. The article points out that the Sikh community was quick to cry foul, saying that the tweet ranged from being insensitive to flat-out racist.

“Only 60 days are left until the federal elections, and during this time, any racial comment against a particular religion can change the community’s mind” – Hamdard Daily

Meanwhile, the ethnic media picked up on the fact that former NDP MP Pierre Nantel will be running for the Green Party. According to the Fairchild TV British Columbia Cantonese program, Pierre Nantel will run for the Greens in the coming federal election after he was turfed from the New Democratic Party for holding secret discussions with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

Along the lines of abandoning the party, Iran Star, a Farsi newspaper in Toronto, reported that MPs are fleeing the House of Commons, noting “for those who want to get stuff done, life in the House of Commons can be pretty frustrating.” Eighteen Liberals, 15 Conservatives and 14 New Democrats are not standing for re-election, according to the Iran Star, adding those numbers are not out of whack with previous elections, except for the NDP, which has lost a third of its caucus.

Speaking about the NDP’s chances in the election, radio host Amandeep Benipal said on a Toronto-based CIAO AM 530 Punjabi program that NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is losing his hold. He noted that the Liberals can win the October election if they take a lead in Quebec and Ontario. Many months ago, when Singh won the Burnaby South election, it was emphasized that the NDP would need to have a hold in Quebec, and weakness in Quebec will be a big loss for the NDP, according to Benipal.

Beyond the ethnic media silence and stories about abandoning the party, there were reports on the event that the federal New Democrats say was meant to be an open house for leader Jagmeet Singh’s new BC constituency office.

In an article entitled “NDP suspected of using ‘open house’ event to canvass for federal election votes”, Canadian Chinese Express, a Chinese newspaper in Vancouver, reported that a federal election law restricts the use of so-called MP resources, such as constituency offices, for election campaign purposes, but NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s constituency office in BC staged an “open house” and sent out emails describing the event as a pre-election campaign.

More engagement with ethnic media outlets could turn their silence into multilingual stories that reach all Canadians. Jagmeet Singh’s proposed policies and how they relate to the ethnic communities are largely missing so far in the lead up to the election. Where is the coverage on the NDP that could connect the party with Canada’s diverse voters?

By: Blythe Irwin, with files from

The diversity information tool

Although Canadians are increasingly connected via media and social experience, people frequently find themselves separated by both language and political ideals.

Enter Diversity Votes, a website and media initiative that aims to educate the general public about the demographic, economic and social characteristics affecting electoral strategies, increase the accountability of regional and national media sources by making their work more accessible in various languages, hold candidates and political parties responsible to the greater population, and inspire informed discussions regarding Canada’s diverse voting patterns while bringing disparate voices into the national discourse.

Sharing the small stories

Blythe Irwin, sources director, Diversity Votes | Photo courtesy of Diversity Votes

When asked about the impetus for starting Diversity Votes, sources director Blythe Irwin stresses the need to validate ethnic media voices using both data and new access to their work.

“In order to validate ethnic media voices with the statistical data of the population they serve, we produced a citizenship education tool. Diversity Votes combines demographics with ethnic media to showcase what’s being said in these communities about upcoming elections [and political matters in general],” she says.

The goal was to produce a citizen education tool using the statistical data of Canada’s population as its backbone, while providing access to the conversations and problems media sources specific to ethnic communities address that may be forgotten or passed over in the wider media spotlight. Two clear and important examples of this have been the conflict some Jewish communities have experienced with “Shemini Atzeret” and “Simchat Torah” falling on federal election day, as well as the Italian-Canadian community’s request for Trudeau to apologize for the detention of over 700 Italian-Canadians during World War II. These community-specific topics may fall through the cracks or be brushed over by larger Canadian media.

Irwin reminds us that as an important benefit of Canadian citizenship, people have the right to free speech and to make their voices heard, and that the increased prominence gained by many communities will always lead to the exposure of frictions.

Between neighbors

Andrew Griffith, author, immigration, diversity policy and data expert. | Photo courtesy of Diversity Votes

Because Canada shares an ideologically porous border with the United States, Canadians often feel themselves drawn into the tide of American politics while still hoping to remain distinct from their southern neighbours.

“The States is our monster neighbour which gets all of the attention and has a much larger population; Canadians feel the need to differentiate themselves in perception from the U.S. to the rest of the world, who might otherwise just lump us in with the U.S,” says Irwin. She continues by pointing out how closely linked Canada is to America both economically and culturally. But there is a downside to this close connection: “It is becoming increasingly evident that Canadians are not insulated from the U.S. as the polarization in the U.S. has led to an influx of migrants (to Canada) but also to anti-multicultural and anti-immigrant rhetoric here in Canada.”

Irwin explains that though populist democracy is often an attack on multicultural democracy, immigrants are often just a pawn of a bigger crisis. Since populism frequently works as a tool to enhance larger divisions in societies, she posits that this is a time and place where making diversity inclusive rather than divisive can play a major role in protecting the wider Canadian population.

Bring us closer to them

As social media spreads various bad faith political ideals or open attempts at misinformation, Irwin wants to be clear that gullibility does not discriminate along ethnic lines. In reality, all demographics are equally susceptible to fear mongering, and education may be the most important factor in helping people make strong political decisions

“As a society we need to ensure that all Canadians can participate in our democracy, and that they have full access to the education and resources needed to make informed decisions,” she says.

Lastly, Irwin invites Canadians to educate themselves about the interplay between diversity and politics.

“Canadians can be open to new things, new points of view, leave our echo chambers and talk to each other and not just our Facebook followers and friends,” she says. “Communication can bring ‘us’ and ‘them’ closer together.”

See original article at The Source: