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.

(From left to right) NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer are seen in this combination shot. Chris Young/Justin Tang/Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

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

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