Ethnic Media Election Coverage 11-17 August 2019

 

This week about 130 election-related articles were analysed.

Major issues covered:

Campaign: Much of the coverage concerned comparable riding-level fundraising by the Conservatives and Liberals with the NDP far behind, PM Trudeau’s continuing to use Ontario premier Ford as a foil to attack the Conservatives was also widely covered, with most articles noting the contrast between his stated intent to run a positive campaign and the actual campaign:

“During a discussion about the federal election [in Brampton], many people were of the opinion that Justin Trudeau does not need to do anything to win. Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s policies will make the Liberals win in the federal election.” (Punjabi).

The NDP’s use of leader Singh’s constituency office for a pre-election event and their subsequent withdrawal of the event invitation.

Former Ontario Cabinet Minister Michael Chan’s partisan op-ed was covered in Chinese media, “[Government cuts happen) every time a Conservative party is in power, regardless of whether it’s at the federal level or at the provincial level.” (Chinese)

Leaders’ Debate: Media in most language groups continued to cover the decision by the Leaders’ Debate Commission to exclude PPC leader Bernier. His letter to the Commission was not widely covered. The Munk Debates interest in holding a debate on foreign policy was noted, as was GreenPac’s plans to hold environment-focussed debates in 117 ridings.

Polls: The finding by Nanos research that most Canadians disapprove of provincial premier participation in the federal campaign was covered by a number of language groups. More general polling, showing a tight race, by Forum Research and Mainstream Research, was subject to commentary and analysis.

Citizenship (Syrian refugees and voting): The more than 2,500 Syrian refugees who had become citizens and thus entitled to vote was noted by a number of language groups, with the general view that this would benefit the Liberals:

“A lot of online users hold negative attitude about accepting refugees and about the fact that refugees who will be naturalized will participate in voting in the Canadian election. Some people commented that this circumstance is very beneficial for Trudeau. These refugees were brought to Canada because the government was carrying out humanitarianism, but is the real motive of the government to let these refugees vote for the Liberal Party after naturalization?” (Chinese)

Multiculturalism: The video of a women holding a support Andrew Scheer sign in Toronto and screaming  racist epithets, along with Scheer’s immediate condemnation of her comments were widely covered. Senior public servant discussion and recommendations regarding refocusing on the majority to counter populism continued to be noted.

Ethics (SNC Lavalin): The ethics commissioner’s finding that PM Trudeau had violated the conflict of interest code was factually covered in many language groups with only one commentary in Chinese media noting the opinion of UBC Professor Kathryn Harrison that this might cost the Liberals support among young Canadians.

Candidates:

  • Vaughan-Woodbridge: Teresa Kruze, was nominated at the CPC candidate following the withdrawal of previously nominated Frances Tibollo.
  • Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel: For the first time in 30 years, a Conservative leader visited the traditionally Italian Canadian riding, suggesting the CPC believe it to be winnable for Ilario Maiolo. The defeat of Italian Canadian candidates in the Liberal nomination race by Hassan Guillet and consequent dissatisfaction among some Italian Canadians (22.5 percent of the riding are of Italian ancestry) is the likely explanation,

“Scheer recognized the work carried out by the Italian community and the historical role it has played in the development of the country. The internment of Italian-Canadians during World War II also came up, with Mr. Scheer pointing out that it was a Conservative government under Brian Mulroney that first issued an apology.” (Italian)

  • Vancouver-Grenville: Taleeb Noormohamed, LPC to run against former Justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, now running as an independent following the SNC Lavalin scandal and aftermath.
  • Brampton South: Sonia Sidhu, Liberal incumbent, kicked off her campaign with local Liberal MPs Navdeep Bains, Kamal Khera, Ruby Sahota, Gagan Sikand and Maninder Sidhu.

Immigration: The OECD report praising Canada’s economic immigration system received coverage, with some articles also noting the contrast with Quebec’s more restrictionist policies. The Liberal government’s replacement of Ontario government cuts to legal aid for immigrants and refugees was noted, along with the associated political positioning.

China: The evolving situation in Hong Kong and PM Trudeau’s remarks urging caution were noted, with some commentary noting that “People do not think that Trudeau’s remarks have helped in easing the tension between China and Canada.” (Chinese) In terms of the potential impact on the election, one article noted:

“Justin Trudeau is locked in a statistical tie in opinion polls with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer ahead of an October 21 federal election, and Scheer has attacked him relentlessly for being soft on China. China hopes the winner of the election can show the courage and wisdom and make joint efforts with China on the basis of mutual respect and equality to overcome the current difficulties,” (South Asian English)

Third parties: In addition to mentions of third party activities by organizations such as Canada Strong, Engage Canada, and Shaping Canada’s Future, the Canada Revenue Agency union’s concern that the CPC plan to transfer federal tax collection for Quebec residents to Quebec would result in 5,500 federal job losses, about half of them in Quebec.

From Multicultural Meanderings – Why Diversity and Inclusion Is a Strategic Imperative for [political] Campaigns

From Anthony Robinson the political director at the National Democratic Training Committee, on their approach (all Canadian parties, perhaps save the Bloc and PPC, do this given the large number of immigrants and visible minorities in many ridings):

The rise of diversity and inclusion initiatives and organizational focus over the last several years marks an important shift in our nation’s perspective on opportunity.

Strategists across the public and private sectors agree that the social, political, and organizational challenges of the 21st century are increasingly becoming more complex. As a result, the backgrounds of the leaders and teams finding solutions to these challenges requires a broad and diverse skill set needed to address these issues and make sure D&I (diversity and inclusion) doesn’t become a passive buzz word.

Campaigns are no different.

The nation’s electorate is increasingly becoming more diverse. So, why aren’t campaigns and political party operative and organizations — at least below the presidential level — more intentional about broadening their campaign staff to reflect this shift?

Our electorate continues to be more brown, female, LGBTQ+, and multicultural, while campaign staffs remain white, male, and typically made up of the same individuals who have run party politics for a very long time.

Candidates can no longer hang their hats on diversity and inclusion in campaign promises and not follow it up with a campaign staff which reflects the growing diversity of the electorate. But this challenge cannot be solved overnight. Without a long-term scalable solution, we’ll continue to face the same challenges year after year.

In a 2017 survey by Inclusv, the 41 Democratic state party organizations that participated revealed they collectively employ 401 staffers and 128 identify as people of color. With the increased votes shares from 2012 to 2016 nearing almost 50 percent for people of color, this demographic only represents 32 percent of the workforce.

Alida Garcia, co-founder of Inclusv said, “We must recognize the direct correlation between who works on campaigns and how those campaigns engage the communities disproportionately impacted by every issue on the national agenda. Authentic and deliberate inclusion is a vital component for candidates to succeed.”

Responding to the need for more diverse staffers on campaigns, my organization created a training program that prioritizes leaders who identify as women, as trans and non-binary, and as people of color. These communities continuously drive the Democratic Party but are historically underrepresented on our campaigns, relative to their vote share. We want to ensure we, as a party, are representative of our voters.

We’ve seen our graduates land jobs throughout the industry. But more needs to be done. In order to improve the makeup of campaign staff, it’s critically important that there be a transformational change to the culture of campaigns. Here’s how that can be achieved.

A change in the narrative.

Diversity must work in tandem with inclusion. Culture change must be more than checking a box. This means campaigns are intentional in the creation of systems to fuel equity and access for diverse leaders and staffers. Systems which create inclusive and diverse staffs but also retain them.

In order for this to be a reality campaigns must transform the way they have traditionally recruited, hired, and trained campaign staffers. Lasting transformational change must incorporate innovation and new processes and expectations, not “fast following.” This includes a productive shift in assumptions and behaviors, as well as improved organizational expectations, policies, and expression of power.

These actionable steps can be put into three core groups.

  • Empower diverse and inclusive leadership. They often build inclusive teams that perform at a high level.
  • Put D&I in place across workforce and operations. This can only be achieved by having an intentional recruiting strategy and implementation plan.
  • Put forward an organizational vision for D&I. There should be inclusive internal and external communication and meaningful diversity and inclusion education.

I am often asked about the idea that emphasizing diversity takes time away from organizational goals or that there should be a focus on “diversity of thought.” My response is two-fold. First, a focus on diversity and inclusion doesn’t take time away from the overall objective. It should be part of the objective. Second, seeking diversity and inclusion doesn’t mean you’re not also seeking the most talented person for the job.

There’s an issue in your organization if it’s thought that prioritizing diversity means you’re somehow de-prioritizing talent. Organizations that are future-focused, innovative, and understand the strategic advantage of having an inclusive staff will be more successful.

Source: Why Diversity and Inclusion Is a Strategic Imperative for Campaigns

Ethnic Media Election Coverage 4-10 August 2019

For the post-Civic holiday week of diversityvotes.ca, close to 100 election-related articles were analysed.

Major issues covered included:

Campaign: Campaign coverage focussed on PM Trudeau’s invoking Ontario’s Ford government cuts and implying that a Conservative federal government would do the same. The contrast with Trudeau’s commitment to wage a positive campaign and these attacks was noted. Alberta Premier Kenney’s active campaigning for the federal Conservatives was widely covered.

Commentary was largely negative on the poor quality of the campaign to date:

“Until now, however, the debate has centred on trivial issues like squabbling between the Tories and Liberals over the Canadian Food Guide and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s criticism of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s failure to take part in the Vancouver Pride Parade.” (Italian)

“…it is hard to find a competent politician under the current democratic system. Prime Minister Trudeau has been in office for four years, and although Canadians have a lot of complaints about him, the other political party leaders do not appear to be a lot better. Under the current circumstances, Canadians can only choose the one who is not the worst, but they do not have the option to choose the most competent one.” (Chinese)

“… many Canadians started to use the slogan  ‘Make Canada Trudeauless Again’ to express their attitude in the upcoming election. Hats with this slogan have been circulating on social media for some time now, and seem to be coming from Conservative party supporters who want Andrew Scheer to be the next prime minister. However, the Conservatives have not officially endorsed or affiliated themselves with the hats or the slogan on them.” (Chinese)

  • Election date (Jewish holiday): The decision by Elections Canada to maintain the October 21 election date notwithstanding the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret continued to be widely covered, although less than the previous week.
  • Candidates:
    • Brampton North MP and Liberal candidate Ruby Sahota continued to be covered;
    • Brome-Missisquoi long-time Liberal MP Denis Paradis’s decision not to seek re-election;
    • Edmonton Mill Woods Conservative candidate and former MP Tim Uppal was linked to allegations of voter fraud plaguing the United Conservative Party;
    • New Westminster-Burnaby Conservative challenger Veck to NDP MP Peter Julian was announced;
    • Brampton Centre Liberal candidate Ramesh Sangha, along with Immigration Minister Hussen and Brampton North MP Ruby Sahota were seen in photos; and,
    • Commenting on the Samara report on candidate nomination and selection, Uganda-born Lilly Obina, a Conservative candidate in the 2015 federal election, and Pakistan-born Andrew Cardozo, a prominent member of the Liberal Party, noted that visible minority Canadians have realistic hopes of winning parliamentary seats.
  • Polls: Quebec polling by Forum Research showing a drop in Liberal support and increase in Conservative support was covered. Nanos Research data showing that Canadians expect the 2019 election to be nastier than previous elections drew considerable interest:
    • “The federal Liberal and Conservative Party leaders both commented on the concerns expressed by the respondents. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau predicted the 2019 election will be the nastiest one yet, but Andrew Scheer responded and hinted that Trudeau will be the one who will make it nasty. In the recent weeks, the two leaders have been attacking each other on social media. Scheer has been putting in effort to drag down Trudeau’s reputation, but he hasn’t been very successful.” (Chinese)
  • Healthcare: Conservative leader Scheer’s commitment to maintain healthcare annual increases at three percent was widely covered, along with PM Trudeau’s fear mongering regarding possible cuts as is happening under the Ford government in Ontario.
  • Immigration: Maxime Bernier’s restrictive approach to immigration continued to receive widespread coverage. Minister Hussen received coverage on his defence of the online first-come first-served family reunification system and responded to questions on birth tourism (women travelling to Canada to give birth so their child will be a Canadian citizen), noting the small numbers and a solution may be to “crack down on illegal immigration consultants.” One commentary noted that:
    • “Bernier and Alberta Premier Kenney are former cabinet members of former prime minister Harper. Both of these Conservative Party celebrities share the similarity of having anti-immigration sentiments and using references to the Fraser Institute’s anti-immigration report.”
  • India: In addition to coverage of Conservative critiques of the Liberal governmentMs approach to disputes with China and Saudi Arabia, considerable coverage of NP columnist John Ivison account of Gerald Butt’s blaming the Indian government for the failures of PM Trudeau’s visit to India.
  • Cost of living: Housing costs were the main focus, with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report on affordability issues being cited. Brampton Conservative candidate in Brampton North met with former Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak and current head of Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) to criticize the Liberal government’s mortgage stress test as a barrier to home ownership.
  • Multiculturalism: The CBC report noting that the government received advice to shift emphasis from diversity and minority groups to the majority was noted. Conservative leader Scheer’s “unity in diversity” and inclusive messaging continued to receive coverage.

Ethnic Media Election Coverage 28 July – 3 August 2019

For the past week of diversityvotes.ca, over 160 election-related articles were analysed.

Major issues covered included:

  • Election date: For the second week in a row, the election date occurring on the Jewish holiday coverage of Shemini Atzeret dominated coverage with the focus being on Elections Canada decision to maintain the October 21 date after its reconsideration in response to the Federal Court ruling. The issue was widely covered in the following language media: Punjabi, Chinese, Polish, Italian, Tamil, Gujarati, Hindi, Filipino, Jewish, South Asian English, Russian and Urdu.

Coverage was largely neutral reporting with only a few commentaries:

“Canada is a multicultural country and it will not be possible to accommodate every community’s religious needs”

“If Chinese Canadians want to protect their interests, they should learn from the Jewish community and participate in these community conversations. Fairness has to be fought for; it is not something that is given out for free.”

  • Campaign: Coverage was dominated by federal party fundraising and spending, including on Facebook. The Conservatives continuing to lead the Liberals in fund-raising and the number of persons contributing the maximum to both parties were noted as was the Greens having raised more money than the NDP. The high level of federal government advertising allowed in the final pre-election quarter was covered, with some articles noting that this also occurred under the Conservatives.
  • Immigration: Maxime Bernier’s announcement of his restrictive approach to immigration continued to receive widespread coverage. In addition to the critique by Minister Bains, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and MP Jenny Kwan made similar critical points with an emphasis on family reunification in a meeting with Chinese media. Talk show and on-line commentary in Punjabi and Chinese media revealed, not surprisingly, a mix of views.
  • Candidates:
    • Brampton-North MP and Liberal candidate Rudy Sahota;
    • Conservative challenger Maria Augimeri and Liberal incumbent Judy Sgro in Humber River – Black Creek;
    • Opening of the campaign office of Minister Navdeep Bains in Mississauga-Malton along with his critique of the PPC’s proposed immigration policies;
    • Conservative nomination contest in Dufferin-Caledon following the removal of former nominee Harzadan Singh Khattra;
    • NDP’s nomination of Grassy Narrows chief Rudy Turtle in Kenora; and,
    • PPC Saskatchewan candidate (Carlton Trail-Eagle Creek) Cody Payant’s call for more hate speech was criticized.
  • Polls: Polls from Léger and Research Co, along with the CBC Poll Tracker, showing a tightening race were covered. Commentary noted the declining impact of the SNC-Lavalin scandal as an explanation.
  • China relations and Huawei: China coverage continued on PMO’s effort to pressure former ambassadors to consult with the government prior to making public comments. Commentary criticized CPC leader Andrew Scheer and Ontario Premier Doug Ford for different messaging to mainstream and Chinese media. Comments by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and MP Jenny Kwan to Chinese media on Canada-China relations were covered, including the “urgency” of appointing an ambassador (same meeting that covered immigration as above).

While most Huawei coverage concerned the government’s announcement that any decision regarding Huawei’s involvement in 5G networks will be made after the election, former Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day praise for Huawei and CPC leader Scheer’s distancing from his remarks was noted (Day serves on the Board of Telus, a major user of Huawei equipment).

  • Third parties: Liberal party requests that Elections Canada look into possible improper co-ordination between two Conservative pressure groups, Canada Proud and British Columbia Proud.
  • Indigenous: Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde remarks that the SNC-Lavalin affair and Jody Wilson-Raybauld’s exit could hurt the Liberals with Indigenous voters. Commentary in Punjabi media noted that any questioning of the Liberal record on unfilled Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations would lead to Conservatives being questioned on their plans.
  • Cannabis: The change in the Conservative position from being opposed to accepting cannabis legalization was noted in Chinese media (Chinese Canadian public opinion mainly opposed legalization).
  • Food guide: In addition to some further reporting of Liberal and Conservatives on the Canada food guide, one commentator referred to the Toronto Star editorial on the need to separate politics from the food guide.
  • Other issues covered (2 media coverage or less): pipeline ads by major oil producers, Punjabi commentary on voter fraud related to address changes close to elections, housing prices, student loans, foreign interference, planned leaders debate, climate change, Conservative party pledge on healthcare funding and concerns over horse meat.

 

HIGH NOON ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL The Election Date and the Jewish Community – a case for Canadian exceptionalism?

While the issue of the conflict between the Jewish community and Elections Canada over Shemini Atzeret, the Jewish High Holiday that falls on election day, has been simmering since the Fall of 2018, mainly in the affected communities, this week it went viral, with reactions from a wide range of ethnic media, triggered bythe government agenciesresponse to the petition to change the date.

The issue also received widespread coverage in the mainstream media, with a range of reactions.

From a detached perspective, even Val Wilde in The Friendly Atheist (July 26, 2019) remarks that:

The appropriate time of year for elections was selected with certain assumptions in mind, including the assumption that candidates and voters would be celebrating according to a Christian calendar. (There’s a reason the election isn’t held during the Christmas season.)

You might argue that changing the date could lead to elections falling on someone else’s important holiday, so why bother? But the bigger issue here is that a fairly prominent religious holiday wasn’t even taken into consideration. In a society where accommodation for Christian religious holidays is built into the social calendar, the failure to accommodate others’ holidays is anything but neutral.

While the ethnic outlets also paid attention to the issuewith mostly neutral coverage, there is an underlying current of concern among communities with a stake in their own religious holidays and their participation in the Canadian political process. The expectation is rising as Elections Canada has till August 1 to issue a final decisionto defy the court order or not.

In the past week more than forty stories in the ethnic media covered the news, with contributions from Chinese, Filipino, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Punjabi, Russian and Tamil, as well as the Jewish media.

As with mainstream media, the headline often betrays the nuance, based on the status of religion in each community, as well as their attitude toward the Jewish community in particular.

However, beyond the strength of religious conviction in each community, an old dilemma of multicultural societies surfaces again: the open acceptance of all religious practices inevitably leads to the support of ethnic exceptionalism in the context of civil society. This bringsback memories of the Sikh turban issue won by the community as well as the more recent and not so successful struggle against legislation in Quebec barring religious symbols.

Is there a line connecting Malala Yousafzai not being able to teach in Quebec with an election date that would inhibit Orthodox Jews from voting? In the current context of populist rhetoric and polarized positions, any decision on the matter is bound to feed into that dynamic.  

Here is what various ethnic outlets had to say:

Various reports in the Chinese media cover the claim that Perrault exercised his discretion “unreasonably,” because he failed to balance the Canada Elections Act with the religious freedoms outlined in the Charter of Rights (Van People (Daily) – Vancouver, 25/07/2019 ; Sinoquebec Chinese Newspaper (Weekly) – Montreal, 24/07/2019; Today Commercial News (Daily) Toronto, 25/07/2019).

One outlet remarked that:

Elections Canada does not have the power to make a decision on the date of the federal election and can only make a recommendation; the final decision is made by the ruling party in government (BCbay.com (Daily) – Vancouver, 24/07/2019).

Another article in the Chinese print media foreshadows what that decision might be:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in Vancouver that it is important politics do not influence Elections Canada (Ming Pao Toronto (Daily7) – Toronto, 30/07/2019).

However, Le Jia Wang in the Vancouver website Van People makes the connection explicitly between the Jewish situation and the need for greater Chinese participation in the political discourse:

If the election takes place during the holiday, thousands of Jewish voters will be unable to participate in the election... This may be detrimental to voter turnout. There are about 1.7 million people of Chinese descent in Canada who have contributed a great deal to the community. However, Elections Canada has never been as proactive or passionate about the Chinese community. This is one of the reasons Chinese Canadians have such little influence in Canadianaffairs. If Chinese Canadians want to protect their interests, they should learn from the Jewish community and participate in theseconversations. Fairness has to be fought for; it is not something that is given out for free (Van People (Daily) – Vancouver, 26/07/2019).

Elections Canada’s response was to continue to be in contact with the affected Jewish community and look for other methods to help them vote. We wonder what the reaction will be, if any, to Stephane Perrault’s statement that, There are always Canadians who are unable to vote on election day(londonchinese.ca (Daily7) – London (Ontario), 30/07/2019; Dushi.ca (Daily) – Markham, 30/07/2019).

Other contrasts in coverage were evident, with the Italian media reporting satisfaction with the EC recommendation, and the Jewish, media, obviously not, and a Punjabi radio host relativizing the issue and stating that:

Jews are primarily in 36 of 338 federal ridings, most of them in urban areas. Election Canada is now looking for ways how these Jewish people can vote. Canada is a multicultural country and it will not be possible to accommodate every community’s religious needs (Red FM 88.9 Good Morning Toronto (Daily) – Brampton, 30/07/2019).

An acute observer should note that a motion originated byChani Aryeh-Bain, the Jewish Conservative candidate in the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, now lies in the hands of a lapsed Catholic Liberal Prime Minister.

One might say that it is hardly relevant in modern Canada, but – stay tuned

(by Andres Machalski, with files from diversityvotes.ca ~ 1,000 words)

Ethnic Media Election Coverage 13-20 July 2019

While Chinese in the chart of ethnic media coverage refers to written media, Cantonese and Mandarin to broadcast oral media, summarized as Chinese media except where indicated.

Ethnic Media Coverage

For the past week of diversityvotes.ca, 114 election-related articles were analyzed.

Chinese and South Asian ethnic media dominated articles surveyed (51 and 31 percent respectively). The relatively greater share of Chinese media reflected extensive coverage of former minister and ambassador McCallum’s ill-advised comments on caving in to Chinese government demands regarding the extradition case of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou (over 25 percent of all articles surveyed, including in non-Chinese ethnic media: Arabic, Filipino, Polish, Punjabi, and South Asian English). The decision by the government to delay deciding on the use of Huawei in 5G networks was also noted in Chinese media.

The chart below provides the breakdown by different media sources.

General election coverage (campaign issues and polling data) formed an additional 25 percent of the stories covered. A number of these picked up on the possible negative impact of Ontario Premier Ford on CPC prospects in Ontario (Chinese and Hindi media). Other issues covered by more than one media source include:

  • Leader coverage: While PM Trudeau was covered more extensively (Chinese, Punjabi and Spanish media), CPC leader Scheer’s outreach to Korean and Chinese Canadians was covered in more depth (Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish, Muslim), with NDP leader Singh’s Quebec “road trip” gaining some coverage (Chinese, Punjabi).
  • Possible foreign interference in the election beyond McCallum’s remarks was covered in Chinese, Punjabi, Gujarati, South Asian English, and Polish media.
  • The Samara study on the weaknesses of party nomination processes was covered in Chinese and Tamil media.

The Ethnic Media on Islamophobia

Another prominent election topic in the ethnic media was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call to Canadian Muslims to get involved in the elections.

The CHOU 1450 AM Overdose Arabic radio program in Montreal reported that Trudeau encouraged Canadian Muslims to participate in the elections at an annual Eid dinner, which was attended by a number of politicians including the Federal Minister of Immigration and Mayor of Toronto.

Toronto-based Canadian Tamil Radio reported that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Muslim Conservative Party supporters to get involved in the next election campaign to ensure that the Conservative Party “never again” stokes fear and division against the community, “even though it is going to make my life as Liberal leader a little bit more difficult.”

Regarding Canadian Muslims, twice-monthly Islamic newspaper Al Ameen, published in Surrey, BC, printed an editorial entitled “Canada needs to step up its fight to end Islamophobia”.

The editorial asks if the Trudeau government is waiting for another unfortunate incident like the Quebec City mosque shooting, or a Christchurch-scale tragedy, to strike Canadians Muslims before it decides to act on the National Action plan prepared by a distinguished Liberal Parliamentarian, Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry, to fight Islamophobia and religious discrimination in Canada. According to Al Ameen, it has been 16 months since Parliament’s Heritage Committee, after the Quebec mosque shooting tragedy, published the study on Islamophobia and religious discrimination in Canada for the government.

Al Ameen noted that: “To date, the Trudeau government has failed to respond to all its 30 recommendations. The Trudeau Liberals got their two-minute sound byte as being a pro-Muslim party and Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives got theirs as an anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant party. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has already made his position clear. He is Harper 2.0! In February 2019, he had no qualms sharing a podium with white nationalist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim groups. He also failed miserably to recognize Islamophobia, in his initial tweet, shortly after the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand.”

The Hon. David Lametti on ethnic media in Canada

David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, holds one of the most powerful offices in our Government. He visited the TLN Media Group Studios where he had an interview with host Camila González. Minister Lametti shared stories about his immigrant family roots and his thoughts on the role of ethnic media in Canada and optimism about its future. He said access to justice is incredibly important for any community, so that means trying to make sure people have confidence and the ability to use the justice system, and that’s a priority for him as Minister of Justice.

Camila González asks Minister Lametti where he thinks ethnic media would lie within those priorities? He answered that, “I think community media, ethnic media, whatever we want to call it, is critically important to maintain the language. It’s critically important to help promote the common activities that communities undertake. It helps both education on issues but it also becomes a vehicle for educating leaders about issues that are important. It’s a two-way street for issues that are important to cultural communities.”

Apologies – Targeting an issue in the Italian Community

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gives remarks at a reception held in honour of Italian Heritage Month in Vaughan, Ont., on Friday, June 14, 2019. Photo Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

The following issue showcases how particular topics can have a lot more weight within certain ethnic communities than in the mainstream media.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to apologize to the Italian community for the internment of hundreds of Italian Canadians during the Second World War received widespread coverage within the Italian ethnic media, a lot of which was critical.

The Montreal-based Il Cittadino Canadese newspaper reported that during his four-year mandate, the prime minister found the time to apologize to various ethnic communities, but not to Italian Canadians, and in making his announcement, he cited neither time nor place.

Il Cittadino Canadese said: “It all smacks of amateurism, like the primaries for the Liberal candidate in Saint Leonard-Saint Michel. The same goes for the failure to appoint an Italian Canadian to a vacant Quebec Senate seat. Whatever the case, anti-Italian prejudice must end. The PM’s silence in the past four years as to the way Italian Canadians have been and are treated speaks loudly.”

A separate article in Il Cittadino Canadese noted that: “The timing of this announcement appears suspect, as it comes a few months before the next federal election, giving some the idea it might be a way to get the Italian-Canadian vote. If that is the case, it might backfire as the Liberals can no longer take Italian-Canadian voters for granted.”

Meanwhile, Toronto-based Italian newspaper Lo Specchio said that while some say better late than never, others wonder why Trudeau did not do it right after he came to power in 2015 when instead he snubbed the Italian-Canadian community by not appointing a single minister of Italian descent. More importantly, the PM should make the apology without so much flashy PR, according to Lo Specchio.

Vancouver Sun – Douglas Todd: The political use and misuse of Canada’s ethnic media

OPINION: The more Canadians learn about the priorities highlighted in 800-plus ethnic-language media outlets, the more they’ll understand political forces in Canada.

Thousands of stories are coming out of the country’s ethnic-language media — and only pockets of Canadians know anything about them.

More than 800 ethnic media outlets reach a range of distinct communities across this country, publishing and broadcasting in more than 30 major languages — including Mandarin, Punjabi, Farsi and Ukrainian.

It’s only rarely that the so-called mainstream English- and French-language media learns what issues are hot at such media outlets, given the barrier of language. But buried within the country’s proliferating ethnic-language media are potentially high-impact stories.

The Vancouver Sun last month, for instance, ran a prominent article about the way major Chinese-language newspapers in Vancouver and Toronto were running large ads criticizing recent protests in Hong Kong, promoting views that reflect the Chinese Communist Party’s position, including that the demonstrators are nothing but destructive “radicals.”

Since I write about diversity and migration, sources have helped me find other stories enclosed in Metro Vancouver’s ethnic-language media outlets, of which there are more than 100 in B.C. Some stories revealed, for instance, how local South Asians are in an uproar about a recent surge in foreign students, about how B.C.-based Iranians fear spies from their theocratic homeland and about how Canadian politicians frequently give speeches inside Chinese-language churches and Sikh gurdwaras.

Two well-placed Canadians, Andres Machalski, a veteran media monitoring specialist, Andrew Griffith, a former Immigration Department director, are doing the country a service by trying to make ethnic-media journalism more transparent to the public, bringing it out of its language silos.

They’ve just created the online tool, Diversityvotes.ca, to monitor and translate stories from Canada’s ethnic media, which Machalski says may be more pervasive in this country than almost anywhere. Diversityvotes.ca emphasizes articles with political implications, since politicians of every stripe already use ethnic media outlets to try to grab the precious votes of minority members and immigrants.

The electoral stakes are high. Canada has 41 federal ridings in which more than half the population is made up of people of colour. Metro Vancouver alone has four ridings in which more than 70 per cent of the population are people of colour, plus five more in which the proportion is above 50 per cent. They’re concentrated in Richmond, Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby.

People of colour (whom Statistics Canada refer to as ‘visible minorities’) make up majorities in nine federal ridings in Metro Vancouver, which also have strong immigrant populations. Dozens of ethnic-language media outlets aim to reach voters in each region. There are 41 such ridings in Canada, almost all in Metro Vancouver and Greater Toronto. (Source: Diversityvotes.ca)

Winning as many high-immigrant ridings as possible in Metro Vancouver and Greater Toronto is key to national success for any federal party. And so far Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are doing the best at wooing such minorities, with a recent poll suggesting they’re primed to take 39 per cent of the votes of immigrants, compared to the Conservatives’ 29 per cent, NDP’s 14 per cent and Green’s nine.

There are more than 800 ethnic-language media outlets in Canada, which highlight vastly different political issues, says Andres Machalski, co-founder of Diversityvotes.ca

Monitoring the ethnic-language media will be informative for all, regardless of ethnicity or place of birth, since Machalski is convinced most Canadians have no clue about the sway of the ethnic-language media. Keeping informed can also help expose when politicians speak out of both sides of their mouths, telling one ethnic group one thing and the general population something else.

That’s in part what happened this year when the mainstream media learned the Liberal candidate in the riding of Burnaby South, Karen Wang, was posting in Chinese-language social media that she was the “only” Chinese candidate, while her opponent, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, was “of Indian descent.” Wang resigned and apologized.

Ethnic diversity has been formally celebrated in Canada for more than three decades, since former prime minister Pierre Trudeau promoted it through the official multiculturalism policy, said Machalski, president of Mirems, which created the online tool that each day translates many ethnic-media headlines and some specific articles. But the situation is increasingly, he said, becoming polarized.

“Is the ethnic media strong? Is it influential? In a country that’s bringing in 300,000 newcomers a year, what do you think? Just look at the demographics and make up your own opinion,” Machalski, an immigrant from Argentina whose ethnic background is Anglo-Polish, said from Toronto.

The Italian-language media in Canada, which has more than 25 different outlets, is full of stories about Trudeau promising to apologize for detaining 700 Italian-Canadians during the Second World War, Machalski said. It’s a huge issue for some Italian-Canadians, but off the radar of most others Canadians, he said, acknowledging an apology could be loaded for the families of thousands of Canadian loved ones who died or were wounded fighting Italian fascism.

Vancouver-based Blythe Irwin, who directs media monitoring for Diversityvotes.ca, said the feedback she gets is most Canadians have no idea that ethnic media has grown so pervasive across Canada, with 110 Punjabi-language alone media outlets alone. There are also more than 100 various Chinese-language outlets, 62 in Spanish, 31 in Farsi, 29 in Arabic, 24 in Russian, 16 in Hindi, 12 in Greek, 12 in Polish and three in German.

The more that all Canadians can learn about what’s being prioritized in ethnic-language media, the more they will understand the diverse political forces at play in this fast-changing country. Machalski is onto something when he says, “We have to vaccinate the public against political gullibility.” Canadians in general, he said, are wet behind the ears in the way that they think: “If I can’t read it, it doesn’t exist.”