Diversity Votes Stories

from our Ethnic Media Partner and other sources

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.”

Trending Early Summer Election Issues in the Ethnic Media

As summer begins at last in Canada, the country’s ethnic media have their eyes on the upcoming federal elections. Over the last two weeks in June, the ethnic media outlets reported on a variety of elections topics, prominently featuring the environment, the latest poll results revealing a Conservative lead, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging Canadian Muslims to participate in the elections.

The environment, which is shaping up to be one of the key issues in the election campaign, was one of the leading issues reported in the ethnic media between June 16-30. The majority of coverage on the environment was informative and neutral in tone, merely reporting its prominence as an election issue and highlighting Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer’s environmental platform.

Chinese newspaper Ming Pao Vancouver noted that the environment is emerging as “one of the defining battle grounds” for the upcoming federal election.

The only criticism on this issue came from Fairchild TV British Columbia (Cantonese), which reported that the Conservative Party’s climate platform is, without question, a handsome document, in full colour with many large photos and many words – some of which are in large fonts and others in italics. Unfortunately, however, according to the program, none of them explain at any point by how much the federal Conservatives hope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through this plan.

Meanwhile, the latest polling numbers showing the Conservatives in the lead also received a lot of attention in the ethnic media.

Toronto-based Chinese website New Star Net reported that the latest poll shows with just four months to go for the federal election, the Liberal Party is lagging more and more behind the Conservative Party in terms of voter support, and the support rate for Trudeau has hit rock bottom. According to New Star Net, the results are the lowest scores Canadians have given the Liberal Party since the Liberals won the 2015 election, and there is lots more bad news because more than half of Canadians (64%) said they are very dissatisfied with the current government’s performance.

Other prominent topics in the early summer ethnic media elections coverage included Renata Ford’s declared candidacy to run for the People’s Party of Canada in the Etobicoke North riding; Elections Canada hiring social media influencers to encourage more people to participate in the elections, Twitter banning political ads in Canada until the election campaign; the NDP’s healthcare platform; and the launched of this diversityvotes.ca website created to showcase the impact of diverse demographics and the media that serves multilingual Canadians on the upcoming election process.

Surprisingly, immigration only just made the list of the top ten elections issues discussed in the ethnic media in the second half of June.

An ethnic media reaction that stood out regarding immigration was radio host Harjinder Thind’s commentary on the Red FM 93.1 Punjabi Morning program in Vancouver. Harjinder Thind said it seems there has been more mess than well-balanced policy in place in Canadian immigration since Ahmed Hussen took up the post of Immigration Minister. The host talked about an interview with Hussen and said the minister was not able to give a satisfactory answer to many callers’ questions. The minister kept praising the Super Visa, which was introduced by the former Conservative government. On many other topics, including visitor visas and family reunification, the minister could not provide any solid answers. Hussen said he may bring more changes to address the issues, but it looks as if he may not be able to get that chance as there is a federal election in October, the host said.

This overview of top election issues was based on a sample of 123 stories collected between June 16-30 by MIREMS, covering 18 different language groups and 57 ethnic media outlets across Canada. It will become increasingly important to pay attention to the ethnic media as they express the viewpoints of multilingual voices in their communities. These outlets reach newcomer voters with reporting and commentary on the elections in their own language, providing a direct connection between politics and the various ethnic communities.

Was the Race and Politics live event covered in the ethnic media?

On June 19, 2019, Multilingual International Research and Ethnic Media Services President Andrés Machalski and Vice President Silke Reichrath attended “Race and Politics,” a live event hosted by The Hill Times and CPAC at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

The discussion was chaired by Hill Times Managing Editor Charelle Evelyn and featured a panel with Independent MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Indigenous Reconciliation Group CEO Rose LeMay and former Harper government senior adviser Alykhan Velshi. The event coincided with the US Emancipation Day on June 19 – an Act proclaiming Emancipation Day in Canada is still pending – and took place two days before Canada’s National Indigenous Day on June 21.

The event was sold out and packed with people from different cultural backgrounds who likely share an interest in the issue being discussed – as does the ethnic media we monitor.

Caesar-Chavannes and LeMay coincided in the view that Parliament should reflect the diversity of the people it represents so that the voices of all groups are heard and their interests represented. Currently, 15% of the House of Commons are visible minority, while 22% of the population are visible minority. 3% of the House of Commons are indigenous, while 5% of the population are indigenous. While LeMay considered this was not enough, Velshi pointed to a high degree of diversity overall in Parliament, including diversity of thought, and suggested that the political system can address the issue. Politicians win by representing the country as best they can, and all parties continuously renew themselves.

There was a clear demarcation between opinions that thought enough was enough when it came to diversity management in politics, and those who thought more was needed.

Caesar-Chavannes reported that she has been called the most racist MP because she calls out racism where she sees it. She advocates for all the disenfranchised, and people are fine with her speaking of mental health issues, but not of Black issues. There is no Black deputy minister or assistant deputy minister, and highly qualified Black applicants cannot get managerial jobs in the Canadian government.

Velshi disagreed that the political system is racist and said he had never had difficulties motivated by racism in his career with the Conservative party. As a whole the system was good, and better than in most countries. In contrast, LeMay pointed out that Canada is built on colonialism and an Indian Act that still treats indigenous people as minors. Caesar-Chavannes said talking about systemic racism is not an indictment of the entire system, but talking about it is a way to improve the system.

Barriers to more minority representation include difficulties breaking into the right circles to be considered at nomination meetings and networking to know the right people. Financial barriers to running in an election can be significant. Members of minorities are sometimes perceived as just representing their group. Many have internal barriers to running when they see MPs have a rough ride. Indigenous people in particular have different ways of decision-making than the adversarial style in Parliament.

Velshi argued that the British system is inherently adversarial – “politics is a blood sport” – and it is not possible to insulate individual MPs from that. The discussion suddenly became focused on political behaviour, irrespective of race. LeMay argued that politics should not be a “blood sport;” politicians should not be allowed to act in ways that children would not be allowed. They should work for the people they serve. Caesar-Chavannes agreed that they should work together. LeMay also suggested that indigenous people had concepts in their governance models that Parliament could draw on, including sanctions for leaders who did not meet their goals.

Among the conclusions were the need for representatives from visible minorities to be authentic and raise awkward issues and for all representatives to learn from perspectives not their own. There is no point in diversity if the diverse representatives do not reflect the voices of their constituencies.

Oh, we almost forgot to answer the headline question: Was the event covered by any of the close to forty Ottawa-based media – the print, web, radio and TV outlets in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Somali and Ukrainian or serving Anglophone or Francophone communities like the Jewish, African, Caribbean, Haitian ones?

No, and if it was, it wasn’t picked up by our monitoring of these outlets. We hope the ethnic journalists were invited – the subject matter would have attracted them, and it would have been interesting to see what they had to say.

MIREMS is proud to contribute to the democratic process as a channel for voices from visible minority communities to allow for such learning and exchange to take place.

Ethnic Media Election Coverage (15-22 June 2019)

Ethnic Media Coverage

For the first week of http://diversityvotes.ca/, 61 election-related articles were analysed.

Chinese and Indo-Canadian ethnic media dominated articles surveyed (44 and 21 percent respectively. The chart below provides the breakdown by different media sources.

Major news items such as various polls on party preference, the Nanos poll on the importance of ethnics as an election issue, CPC leader Andrew Scheer’s climate change speech and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s unveiling of the NDP platform were covered.

The http://diversityvotes.ca/ announcement was covered in Tamil, South Asian English and Urdu media.

Candidate nominations in a number of ridings were mentioned as were announcement by MPs who were not running (Liberal Geng Tan, Don Valley North) or running (Liberal Dominic LeBlanc, Beauséjour). Korean media noted six Korean Canadian candidates. Italian Canadian media covered the disappointment by some that a non-Italian Canadian was nominated in Saint-Léonard Saint-Michel.

Other issues covered included:

• PM announcement during Italian heritage month that the government would make a formal apology for the treatment of Italian Canadians during World War 2 (Italian)

• Possible changes to immigration should the Conservatives win (Korean);

• The Engage Canada anti-CPC ad during the NBA finals, the Canada Proud demonstration, Liberal insiders worries about PM Trudeau’s continued leadership and the plastics announcement (Chinese);

• The government announcement for its first-time home buyers program (Russian)

• Complaints by CPC candidates in Eglinton-Lawrence and York Centre regarding discrimination against orthodox Jews regarding election day falling on Shemini Atzeret and most advance polls taking place on the Jewish Sabbath (Russian);

• The government funding announcement regarding flood prevention measures in Toronto (Russian); and,

• Conservative MP Pierre Poilivre’s criticism of Elections Canada for being “too soft” on the Liberals for SNC Lavalin donations (Tamil).

Quebec-based media noted Liberal attack ads and media blitz in the province.

Analysis and commentary noted the impact of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s unpopularity is having on the federal Conservatives, with one commentary on the lack of realism of the NDP platform and another favouring more conservative economic policies.

Story of the week:

Canadian federal elections fall on Shemini Atzeret: lawsuit filed – Russian

Chani Aryeh-Bain, the Conservative Party candidate for the Toronto-area district of Eglington-Lawrence, and voter Ira Walfish of York Centre, also a Toronto-area district, filed a lawsuit claiming that the election date discriminates against observant Canadian Jews. The holiday of Shemini Atzeret this year falls on Election Day, October 21, which will prevent observant Jews from voting. Of the four days of preliminary voting, three days fall on other Jewish holidays or a Shabbat. The lawsuit was filed last week in a federal court and asks to postpone the election date to October 28. According to Canadian Jewish News, both districts are currently represented by MPs from the Liberal Party, who defeated conservative Jewish candidates in the last election. The 2008 Canadian federal elections were held on the first day of Sukkot. “There should have been no need for this litigation,” said Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “The Chief Electoral Officer has the discretion to shift election day to avoid ‘a day of cultural or religious significance’ under Section 56.2(1) of the Elections Act, but he has inexplicably failed to take that entirely logical step.” Shemini Atzeret is celebrated at the end of the Sukkot week-long celebration.

Kandskaya Panorama – Toronto, 16/06/2019

From The Toronto Star – New tool launched to shine light on ethnic media coverage of election issues

Over 250 different sources across the country have already published about the launch of diversityvotes.ca. Check out the Toronto Start article below.

OTTAWA — A new tool launched Tuesday could help voters learn what political issues are resonating in ethnic media and how that could impact voting in the fall federal election.

Andrew Griffith, a former director general with the Immigration Department, has partnered with MIREMS, a firm that monitors and translates stories from over 800 ethnic media outlets, to create Diversityvotes.ca.

The website takes comprehensive statistics about Canada’s minority communities and presents it alongside stories by ethnic media outlets. Griffith said the data will provide context about who is consuming multilingual news stories in any riding and quantify how their opinions could influence individual races.

“One of the key objectives is really to break the communities out of their silos and break the politicians out of their silo approach by basically level the playing field,” Griffith said.

“(This will) provide greater transparency about what is happening within one community versus a different community, what is the diversity within the community, and those kinds of issues to help empower the process and ensure there is greater participation and greater awareness.”

The online tool is also expected to shine a light on how campaigns are interacting with different ethnic communities. It could, for example, provide greater transparency over politicians or parties that target their messages differently to individual minority groups in the hopes of winning votes in the October election.

This kind of targeting became an issue in the lead-up to the byelection in Burnaby South earlier this year after the Liberal candidate in the riding, Karen Wang, posted on Chinese social media platform WeChat that she was the “only” Chinese candidate while NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh — her opponent — was “of Indian descent.”

Wang resigned as the candidate and issued an apology denying any racist intent.

Andres Machalski, president of MIREMS, said he hopes the new initiative will not only expose possible political gaffes like the one in Burnaby South, but more widely give new and native-born Canadians a better idea of what is being discussed among different ethnic groups.

“It’s an awareness of diversity,” he said.

“What has happened to diversity in Canada and the world is that it’s shifted from being motherhood and apple pie to being something that is polarized. It’s being weaponized and used to discriminate and at the same time it is the heart of our country — this is a country made up of immigrants.”

There are 41 ridings where visible minorities form the majority of the voting population and another 93 ridings where minorities make up between 20 and 50 per cent of eligible voters, Griffith said. Issues that matter to them and the way they react to policy announcements in the campaign will make a difference in those ridings or in areas with close races, he said.

“You’re not going to win a majority government unless you have strong support in immigrant-rich or visible-minority-rich ridings. It’s just physically impossible.”

The tool is free to use, but Machalski said users can donate on the website to the public service project.

Beyond Election Hype: New Site Explores Ridings’ Cultural Data, Role of Ethnic Media

By New Canadian Media Reporting Desk

As a means for transparency and a window into the lead up for the fall federal election, a new online tool aims to combine an opportunity for voters to see demographic data from Canada’s most multicultural electoral ridings with the chance to determine whether ethnic media in those same voter pockets are tackling issues close to voters’ hearts.

The combination of offerings comes from Diversityvotes.ca, an interactive web project designed to break down political silos and level the playing field for Canada’s growing population of visible minority voters. The site launched Tuesday under the lead of Ottawa-based immigration policy and data expert Andrew Griffith, who has long been a key player in New Canadian Media’s own ventures. For the project, Griffith has joined forces with ethnic media monitoring service MIREMS (Multilingual International Research and Ethnic Media Services) to match riding level demographic and socio-economic data with insights from ethnic media in key provinces and cities.

Griffith, a former director general with the Immigration Department, may be best known as the 2015 author of Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote. He points to the controversy around the resignation of Liberal candidate Karen Wang in British Columbia’s Burnaby South riding as proof of the need for an informational tool such as Diversity Votes. Wang pulled out of the by-election race in January after essentially using her ethnicity to entice voters. In a social media post, Wang singled out her opponent as being of “Indian descent”, which many Canadians found to be an unnecessary act of political division.

“Diversityvotes.ca aims to improve the understanding and transparency of electoral strategies to the various language groups,” Griffith said. “By sharing what is reported in the major language groups, we hope that political leaders and the media will be more mindful of the need to ensure that any community-based messaging is inclusive, rather than divisive.”

Diversity Votes intends to provide a deeper understanding of the cultural composition around where voters live. It also aims to help understand how this composition interacts with electoral strategies by local politicians and media.

Numbers Tell a Story

While all electoral ridings will be covered, the primary focus of Diversity Votes will be the 41 Canadian ridings where visible minorities are the majority, and the 93 where they form more than 20 per cent. The site will also provide a window into another 95 ridings that have significant pockets of ethnic voters.

“The site then combines these statistics with an ethnic media headline feed from around 600 media sources in 25 languages, as well as editorial and opinion stories and invitational blogs written by ethnic journalists and journalism students,” stated Diversity Votes in an announcement about the project.

How local issues are portrayed in community and regional ethnic media may also raise new questions and further the discussion around accountability for ethnic-oriented media strategies.

“Diversity empowers democracy,” states a tagline on the new website.