The rise of the Green Party and environmental concerns in the ethnic media

As a riding that is about 80% Caucasian and 10% Aboriginal with no major concentration of any other ethnic group, Nanaimo-Ladysmith does not typically capture the imagination of the ethnic media in Canada. Its recent by-election got barely a handful of mentions in the run-up to the event. However, the surprise win of Green Party Candidate Paul Manly was widely covered, followed by reports that the Green Party is trying to recruit MPs Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott.

A lot of coverage was concentrated in the Chinese and South Asian media, which with their daily news reporting on radio, TV and print often mirror mainstream reporting and then add their own perspective in commentaries and talk show discussions, and in the Italian and Spanish media, possibly reflecting a heightened European and Latino preoccupation with environmental matters. All the coverage was neutral or positive towards the Green Party.

Much of the reporting concentrated on revealing the by-election results reflected that it shows that environmental issues are becoming more prominent in Canada and will be at play in the upcoming federal election. However, Punjabi media in particular were concerned with the implications for the NDP under Jagmeet Singh. A caller on the Punjabi program on Red FM in Vancouver speculated that the NDP and the Liberals lost because they ran First Nations candidates in a riding that was predominantly white. The Punjabi radio program on WTOR 770 AM in Toronto reported that Indian news channels in India consider the by-election a big loss for Jagmeet Singh. However, WTOR pointed out that it was a big loss for the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP.

Wu Chu He wrote a commentary in the Chinese paper indicating that Canadians are feeling betrayed and angry at Prime Minister Trudeau and have the impression that he does not deliver. The NDP’s performance has also been disappointing, so that non-Conservative voters have no choice but to vote for the Green Party. One comment on this piece argued that people are fooled by the mainstream media, who don’t like the Conservative Party because “the bosses of mainstream media are all rich people.”

The daily national Italian news on OMNI TV ran a feature connecting the by-election in Nanaimo-Ladysmith and the provincial election in Prince Edward Island, where the Green Party formed the Official Opposition for the first time ever, to national election polls, the struggle between the federal government and several provinces over the carbon tax, and a recent United Nations report on biodiversity. The United Nations found that a million species are threatened with extinction. A York University professor said humans will not survive as a species if they continue to have such a negative impact on the earth. Young people interviewed on the program expressed concern for the environment and called for more action.

With the national struggle over the carbon tax, environmental matters are increasingly becoming a concern in the ethnic media. To some extent, they reflect mainstream media and provincial priorities – support for the oil industry in Alberta vs. support for environmental protection in BC –, but they are also informed by the prominence environmental concerns have in countries of origin and by the views of individual opinion leaders on talk shows and in editorials and by discussion with callers from the audience and online comments.

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