New Canadian Media
Sunday, 17 March 2013 23:53

The Great Canadian Double Cross

Review of The Big Shift: The Seismic Change in Canadian Politics, Business, and Culture and What it Means for Our Future – by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson

HarperCollins (2013), 294 pages

By Our Books Editor

This week’s Globe and Mail bestseller list has The Big Shift at No. 6, down from No. 5 last week – less popular than Kevin O’Leary’s (of the CBC Lang and O’Leary show) The Cold Hard Truth on Men, Women and Money. That is not entirely surprising, given that the literati set who read still books are the very people that Bricker and Ibbitson rail against – calling them out-of-touch and gone the way of the dinosaurs in New Canada’s political landscape. The fact that people are reading the book does in some way negate the writers’ core argument that the Laurentian elites (also called Central Canada powerbrokers) have become troglodytes in denial.

To their credit, the authors acknowledge right up front that they are turning against their own class: “For we are the people we are warning you about.”

Although Bricker and Ibbitson write the book in almost 300 pages, it’s mostly repetitive and often strays away from its essential argument: that recent immigrants from Asia have changed the power dynamic in Canada. It then goes on to make the rather rash forecast that this is going to be a Conservative century, just like the last one was largely Liberal. For regular readers of Ibbitson in the Globe and Mail, this thesis would not be entirely new. He is almost alone in the Ottawa Press Gallery as someone who has for many years acknowledged the growing number of Asian immigrants and how Canada must better leverage them in international relations, trade and other opportunities.

Ibbitson is currently the Globe’s chief political correspondent, while Bricker is CEO of Ipsos Global Public Affairs, a leading polling company. The book relies heavily on Ipsos’ surveys on election day May 2, 2011, and thereafter, grounding the book in at least a snapshot of reality, rather than pure speculation and mind-reading.

Here’s the crux: “Immigrant voters living in the Greater Toronto suburbs, along with their counterparts in Vancouver, had joined Prairie and rural Ontario voters to deliver a majority government to the Conservatives.” And, the common thread that runs through these three constituencies are an affinity for values-driven politics and the belief that the Tories would do a better job on the economy, border security and criminal justice.

Not all immigrants voted Conservative

However, their research also suggests that 52 per cent of Muslim immigrants voted for the Liberals and that that the Conservatives were largely favoured by newcomers who have been here for more than 10 years. Immigration also divides Old Canada from New Canada, the parts where the Conservatives hold sway. The dividing line – which the authors call the Ottawa River Curtain – runs from the James Bay to the western reaches of Montreal. East of that in Quebec and the Atlantic – with fewer immigrants and dwindling economic prospects – is in decline, as the political centre of gravity shifts West.

“With every new arrival from Mumbai, with every moving van trundling west, with every dollar generated by the emerging economies of Alberta and Saskatchewan, with every new seat that gets added to the House of Commons, they [the Laurentian elite] wane.”

However, the authors do acknowledge that the old powerbrokers did get one thing right: the open-door immigration policy and multiculturalism policy that enabled an average of about 250,000 newcomers to annually make Canada home in recent years. Given that these very same newcomers have now turned on them, the book could as well have been titled “The Great Double Cross.”

The watershed elections in 2011 and the changing political dynamic has had consequences across the board, the authors say, including changes to immigration policy, cozying up to China and India, particularly, and the implications for the business sector given the new demographic realities. They also suggest Aboriginal issues will gain little traction in Ottawa given that “The ancestors of today’s immigrants played no part in dispossessing the First Nations of their land; their ancestors were themselves dispossessed.”

There’s only one dark cloud that could ruin this otherwise Conservative compact. In the closing pages, they raise a “red flag” around surveys that show a rather narrow spread (just five points) between those who believe immigration is having a positive impact over those who think it has a negative effect. “A nativist backlash would bring about demographic shifts even as it heightened social tensions.” – New Canadian Media

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Books
Sunday, 24 February 2013 14:51

Toronto winking at lawbreakers

by Ranjit Bhaskar for New Canadian Media

It would seem as if sharks and undocumented immigrants are equally deserving of Toronto City Hall’s mercy. Both have been spared extreme measures, although one hopes the reprieve granted to the immigrants is not as short-lived as the lifesaver granted to the marine predators.

The sharks basked in the Council’s attention recently when the sale of their fins was banned. The respite offered to them by Canada’s biggest city was soon dismissed in a court of law, rendering the whole resolution moot.

This time around it is the turn of migrants, specifically those who are here without proper papers. The City has declared that they can now surface, sparing them deportation or any punitive measures from Toronto. Toronto is now a “sanctuary city” that would ensure safe access to services for undocumented residents without fear of being turned over for detention and deportation.

The near unanimity (there were only three no votes against 38 ayes) with which the resolution passed gives the impression that its noble motive of protecting poor, disenfranchised migrants rose above partisan interests. However, given the entrenched divisions in the council, that is highly unlikely.

What seems to have happened is a rare convergence of interests for very different reasons. For the left, it sent out a signal to their constituents that they are doing their best to protect the interests of the downtrodden. For the conservative capitalists, this was the best way to ensure the continued availability of indebted workers at below-minimum wages to keep businesses running in profit. 

But the move is largely irrelevant given that the services the City is proposing to offer them are already available, with no questions asked about residency status.  Children without immigration status are welcomed in schools run by the city and information about them or their families are not shared with immigration authorities as per Toronto District School Board Policy P.061 SCH. The Toronto Public Library also is not keen to know about a person’s immigration status and is happy to accept a plethora of documents to satisfy its need for ID and address proof, including having a postcard mailed to confirm an address. Under normal circumstances, the Toronto Police too will not ask witnesses to or victims of crime about their residency status.   Other services where your residency status matters like health and welfare subsidies are offered by the provincial or the federal governments. The City Council has no say here, moral or otherwise.

However, the timing of the council’s vote is significant as Toronto’s undocumented population of 200,000 is expected to surge in April 2015. That is when many legal, but temporary, foreign workers will see their permits expire under a federal rule enacted in April 2011 that created a four-year limit on the cumulative time a foreigner can spend in Canada as a temporary worker.

That rule change was made to reduce the perceived over-dependence of Canadian employers on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to meet their permanent labour needs. The number of workers under this program has increased from around 100,000 in 2002 to over 400,000 today.

It should not come as a surprise that the concept of sanctuary cities originated in the United States, with Los Angeles being the first in 1979 by preventing the police from inquiring about the immigration status of those they arrest. Broadly, the term “sanctuary” generally applies to cities that do not allow municipal funds or resources to be used to enforce federal immigration laws, usually by not allowing police or municipal employees to inquire about one's immigration status. While the designation has no legal meaning, so far more than 30 U.S. cities have declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented migrants.

The Toronto Council was right to ask Ottawa to establish an amnesty program for undocumented migrants and similarly recommend that the Ontario government review its policies to ensure their access to health care, emergency services and community housing. But, Canada’s premier city and home to its largest number of immigrants has gone too far by offering “sanctuary,” even if the resolution is of little practical effect.  

It sends a mixed message from Canada. On the one hand the federal government has been battening down the hatches on asylum seekers and taking proactive measures to dissuade refugees from boarding creaking boats headed to our shores. While different levels of government may see things differently – and we are all for humane treatment of all arrivals -  a coherent immigration policy is a national imperative. We do not want to replicate the American nightmare with millions of “illegals” in Canada. Nor do we want to unravel the national consensus around rules-based immigration.

As Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, one of the few opponents of the sanctuary motion, said, it “sends a message to the world that it is okay to break the law to come to Canada and it says that the City of Toronto is an accomplice to this lawbreaking.” - New Canadian Media

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary
Saturday, 16 February 2013 07:17

The Toronto Raptors Iranian Night

 Raptors Coach Talks to Salam Toronto about Iranian Basketball For the fourth straight year, the Toronto Raptors are recognizing the importance of the burgeoning Iranian-Canadian community. In addition to hosting ...

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Salam Toronto

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Published in Arab World

 Eerik Purje (Translated by Alja Pirosok)

The official launch of the Alberta Estonian Heritage Society’s exhibition Alberta’s Estonians 1899 to ...

 

The Estonian Life

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Published in Eastern Europe

Astrid Idlewild films her daily bike rides with a helmet camera, and posts traffic violations, safety concerns and confrontations with motorist on the Internet. ...

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Canadian Turk

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Published in Top Stories
Thursday, 17 January 2013 16:00

Quan takes over Toronto public board

TDSB trustees chose the board’s deputy director as an interim replacement for Chris Spence, who resigned in disgrace after admitting to plagiarism. ...

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Canadian Turk

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Published in Top Stories

Unknown to the larger Canadian public and media, a story that originated in Toronto this month had caught the interest of Koreans around the world. Spawned on a Facebook page, it was about a sexual assault in the Yonge and Finch area of the city leading to murder and suicide. The details were bizarre and soon it found traction on social media and got picked by the hyper-active South Korean media.

That’s when Toronto’s Korea Times Daily reporter Jay Jung decided it was time to investigate a story happening right on his turf.

“It went viral on the Internet, so we went for the source of the story,” Jay told the Toronto Star.

Kay’s reporting for the local ethnic paper cast doubts on the original story, reiterating that police in Canada were not confirming any of the reports. He spoke to the Facebook poster again and this time he confessed that it was a fake story. “It turns out it’s all fabricated by him,” Jay told the Star. He said the man apologized to him for lying. “He didn’t say why he’s done it, but his mother actually (said) to me he’s under a lot of stress.”

Toronto Police spokesperson Mark Pugash told the Star of the force’s concern that misinformation has been so widely disseminated within Toronto’s Korean community of more than 34,000 people.

But thanks to Jay’s original reporting in the Korea Times, the fallout from the false news was stemmed before it could do more damage. And it reinforces a Ryerson University journalism professor’s suggestion that ethnic media outlets will better serve their communities if they put more emphasis on reporting local news.

At a recent presentation to ethnic media representatives, Professor April Lindgren said many media organizations that publish in languages other than English devote too much time and attention to homeland news that is easy to access online.

Offering more local coverage would give ethnic media a competitive advantage, she argued, because it isn’t as readily available on the internet for people with limited English-language skills.

“I’m not saying eliminate home country news,” Lindgren told the 30-odd members of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC) as she presented her findings her ongoing The Local News Research Project.  “Some people don’t have access to the Internet or don’t use it for news. My plea is to just think about the balance” between news from home and news about the Greater Toronto area.

Lindgren said that local stories act as a road map for newcomers trying to understand the people, places and events in the Greater Toronto Area. Yet many ethnic papers have so little local coverage it was difficult to find papers with enough content to explore as part of her ongoing investigation into local news and its role in Canadian cities.

Apart from Lindgren’s ongoing scrutiny, a keener observer of the ethnic media In Canada is the federal government.

The Privy Council Office, the bureaucracy that supports the prime minister, spent $463,300 in January 2011 on a two-year contract with the same ethnic media monitoring company that Citizenship and Immigration Canada paid almost $750,000 over the past three years.

This information, obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information laws, make clear that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney consider ethnic media critical sources of intelligence.

"In fact, both the minister of immigration and the prime minister have been quoted as saying that 'ethnic media sources are the new mainstream media' and that 'more people follow ethnic media than mainstream sources,"' states the backgrounder in a May 2011 contract document.

After coming under fire for the spending, Kenney said ethnic media monitoring is a window into the problems and concerns of minority communities and boosting the budget for the activity was a conscious decision made soon after the Conservatives formed government in 2006.

“I have to say the most important reading I do in the morning is the ethnic media scan because frankly, very few other people in government are as focused on that,” he said during a news conference in Toronto.

“I’m picking up stories, issues, voices and perspectives there that are often not reflected in so-called mainstream media and I think it’s very valuable.”

Poor local content  

That value is arguable going by the Ryerson professor’s study.

Lindgren analyzed the news content of four ethnic newspapers as part of her work. She examined the Chinese language daily, Ming Pao, in 2008, and then in 2011, she looked at the dailies Canadian Punjabi Post and Korea Times Daily, as well as the weekly newspaper, Russian Express.

With the exception of Russian Express, all the newspapers paid much more attention to homeland news relative to local coverage. Eight per cent of Ming Pao’s news content was local compared with 26 per cent in the Canadian Punjabi Post, 26 per cent in the Korea Times Daily, and 39 per cent in Russian Express.

Some members of the NEPMCC – which has 530 members across Canada – defended their emphasis on news from their country of origin.

“In our community, they want to know what’s happening back home,” one member said during the question-and-answer session with Lindgren.

Another member, Arif Ahmed of the Bangladeshi newspaper Jogajog, said that probably only about 40 per cent of his readers are interested in local news.

Many in the audience, particularly those from weekly or monthly publications, also did not see any value in regurgitating local news that readers might have already heard or read in the mainstream media.

“You look for stories that bounce off the news,” Lindgren responded. She said a stale story about a robbery can be turned into a feature on the issue of crime in the neighbourhood as a whole. Stories can also be “localized” to include the voices of people from the news outlet’s target audience, she said. A story about Toronto homeowners who are fined for not clearing snow from the sidewalk in front of their houses is a good example of how news can indirectly inform readers about local rules, responsibilities and practices. It would be even stronger, she argued, if it included community members reacting to the bylaw, or talking about the challenges faced by newcomers who aren’t used to dealing with snow and its many complications.

Lindgren also said that mainstream media outlets miss local stories specific to certain ethnic communities, a reality that ethnic media can use to their advantage to attract audiences. Her research, for instance, shows that the Toronto Star published 21 local stories dealing exclusively with the Chinese community while Ming Pao had more than 300 in the same period.

“So, obviously, Ming Pao is telling its community about local news that people aren’t going to get from the Toronto Star or CP24,” she said.

Preventing ghettos

Lindgren said greater emphasis on local news coverage would also be a way to introduce members of different racial and ethnic groups to one another. The GTA, she noted, is a place where visible minorities will become the visible majority by 2030 yet other groups turned up rarely in the ethnic publications she examined.

“Ethnic media can play a major role in introducing these different groups to one another even as they improve their local coverage,” she said.

Journalists working for ethnic media, she suggested, could identify issues affecting other groups and then explore those issues within their own communities. A newspaper could point out that another ethnic group is grappling with tensions caused by interracial marriages, she noted, and use that as a jumping off point to explore how its own community handles the same problem.

Lindgren said it is also important for journalists working in ethnic media to avoid negative representations of other groups. In Ming Pao, for instance, 25 per cent of stories that mentioned other racial or ethnic groups did so in a way that was inconsistent with Canadian Press guidelines. The guidelines state that a person’s racial or ethnic background should only be mentioned if it is relevant to the story.

The problem was particularly pronounced, Lindgren said, in crime stories involving the Vietnamese or Black communities. Stories that gratuitously mention the arrest of  a Vietnamese man for running a marijuana grow-op or the shooting of a Black man sitting in his SUV present those two communities in a negative light, she said, especially since there is little positive coverage to offset the unflattering coverage. There is no reason to mention the racial or ethnic background of the individuals involved in either story, she pointed out.

Conversely, Lindgren said, it is also inappropriate to mention race in a positive story about a person from another ethnic community. “By doing that, you’re making them exceptional,” she said, noting that the reference would suggest it is unusual for a person from that group to do something positive.

Gerald Paul, associate editor at The Caribbean Camera, said he was intrigued by Lindgren’s suggestion that ethnic media should introduce readers to other groups of people in the Greater Toronto Area.

“That’s an area that I will mention to (my editor) that we need to get into,” Paul said. “As Caribbean people, we do intermarry with other ethnicities and do business.”

Parry Long, reporter and marketing director for three Chinese-language weekly magazines – Ads Guide, Chinese Real Estate Magazine and My Home Guide – said his magazines only mention whether or not subjects are Chinese. Reporting on other ethnic groups, he noted, can be difficult.

“In our community, we are familiar with which event is an important one and most attractive,” he said. “For other communities, maybe there’s a big event, but we are not familiar with that. So in that case, we cannot write too much about it.”

Long and representatives from other ethnic media outlets said reporting local news is a challenge for many of their news organizations.

“If we just put homeland news, we can get it all from the Internet,” Long said, highlighting how much easier that is than local coverage. “For local, we should translate, we should interview in person or by calls, and also we should go to some event to be involved in the event so we can write (the story).”

Ned Blair, a journalist at The Caribbean Camera and vice president of business development of the NEPMCC, said many journalists working for ethnic news media confine their reporting to covering events: “Hardly likely do we have the staff or the expertise to follow up on a particular story that would take weeks and weeks.”

NEPMCC members said increased training opportunities would make boosting their local news content easier. They cited the need for workshops and professional development that address issues such as:

•Canadian media law and how to avoid being sued

•Journalism ethics in the Canadian context

•How to find and develop local stories the target audience can relate to

•How to handle negative reaction to stories about sensitive issues that cast the community in a less-than-positive light

•Canadian Press style for coverage of other groups

-          With additional reporting by Sahar Fatima, Ryerson journalism student

Published in National


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Published in Books
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Published in Books
Page 27 of 27

Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

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The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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