Diversityvotes.ca follows with its series of spotlights on Leaders and Parties with a two section look at how Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and his Party are faring in the multilingual media coverage in the first two weeks in August. We will continue this series with a focus on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, followed by NDP Leader Jagdeep Singh and Green Party’s Elizabeth May.
Marc Grandmaison/The Canadian Press – Andrew Scheer takes questions from the media in Dieppe, N.B., on Aug. 15, 2019.
As the election focus moves from the scheduling of the event dates and debates to the campaign, our tracking shows that Andrew Scheer seems to be receiving the same level of coverage as Justin Trudeau, but this is hard to determine, since they are often mentioned together.
Beyond highlighting Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer playing musical chairs in the polls and reporting on the tail end of the Food Guide spat politicizing Canadian eating habits, the ethnic media have featured Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in relation to provincial healthcare transfers and the ongoing skirmishes over various actions of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party.
It is important to underscore at this point that the ethnic media is not a single voice but is diverse not only in its language and culture, but also in the individual political points of view of its outlets and their journalists. It is also important to distinguish stories by mainstream writers from Canadian Press or Postmedia wire agencies, which reach new audiences through syndication, and original opinions from community writers who actually are in touch with those audiences.
In an article titled Toward the vote, electoral campaign fails to take off, Corriere Canadese’s Francesco Veronesi complains that while employment, immigration, foreign trade and the environment are among the major questions that should characterize the current federal election campaign, until now the debate has centered 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. In Francesco Veronesi’s opinion, the destiny of a country is not decided by the participation in or boycott of the Pride Parade. Hopefully as the election draws nearer, the political debate will take a leap forward in terms of quality.1
Of particular interest are two very different accounts of Scheer’s meeting with ethnic journalists from the Greater Toronto Area. According to the Polish source Zycie, not all journalists had a chance to ask questions, as the meeting with Scheer had a time limit. Most of the questions related to local community issues and possible guarantees that Scheer as a future prime minister could give if elected.
In the multicultural twice monthly newspaper Mosaic, Edward Akinwunmi also comments on the event, quoting Andrew Scheer reassuring the ethnic community of his party’s openness. “Conservatism is founded on the principle that all human beings are created with the same inherent value and equal rights,” he says. On a recent visit to the GTA, Scheer was able to meet and see many Canadians from various ethnic backgrounds. He stated that he and his party will not do what Justin Trudeau is doing – “playing politics of division, creating fears amongst communities with baseless accusations”.2
In general, the ethnic press coverage of Scheer and the Conservative Party to date in August seems to center around the discussion of health care policies and the theme of cuts and services, and the Liberal counterarguments. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is promising the premiers that he would increase health transfers and a social transfer by at least three per cent every year should he become prime minister, but a Chinese commenter on 51.ca complains that the federal Conservatives have not revealed their healthcare plan yet.3
This collection of stories includes a very positive spin on Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives’ promise to increase mental health and homecare funding, with the Punjabi Post saying it is very unfortunate that Trudeau’s Liberals deliberately tried to misguide members of the Canadian Punjabi Post about Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s funding increase for healthcare services. Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives will protect public services and will leave more money in Canadians’ pockets so that their families can move on.4
The Liberal counterargument is presented as equating federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer to the Conservative Premier of Ontario Doug Ford. Trudeau urged his candidates to stay out of the mudslinging and “politics of fear and division.”5
In connection with the above, another issue discussed quite extensively is whether the intervention of Jason Kenney and the association with Doug Ford will be beneficial or the kiss of death to Conservative hopes, above all in Ontario. Kenney has said he will be soliciting votes for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in key regions of the Greater Toronto Area later this year. An opinion poll by Nanos Research found that 56% of respondents feel anxious and uncomfortable about premiers involving themselves in federal elections. Looking at the demographics of these ridings, shown on our diversityvotes.ca web site, we think that in these ridings with a very diverse population, this anxiety will have special impact on ethnic voters.6
With the question “Will Ford’s policies really impact Andrew Scheer?”, Punjabi radio host Deepak Punj said that he recently attended an event at the Anokhi Restaurant in Brampton. During a discussion about the federal election, 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.7
At the end of the week, Andrew Scheer must have elevated thanks to the Canadian Ethics Commissioner for the gift that keeps on giving him a big stick for bashing Trudeau. As a Korean daily TV source remarks, Prime Minister Trudeau’s SNC scandal is the biggest factor in the upcoming election. The Canadian Ethics Commissioner’s assessment is that Trudeau’s actions breached the Conflict of Interest Act. In response, the Conservatives and the NDP raised voices against the prime minister, emphasizing that he must be defeated in the election. Other sources echo this opinion.
Expert analysis is that the SNC-Lavalin scandal could result in the federal Liberals losing 5% of their support, leading to an election defeat in October.8
What remains to be seen is the reaction of the ethnic media as the drama plays out. Divesrityvotes.ca will let you know what it will be soon.
(~ 1625 words inc. footnotes, Andres Machalski, President, MIREMS Ltd, with files from diversityvotes.ca)