Ethnic Media Election Coverage 15-21 September 2019

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

This week about 120 election-related articles were analysed.

Major issues covered:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Candidates:

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

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

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

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

Ethnic vote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Griffith, ethnic media provided by MIREMS

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