Diversity Votes — February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (16-23 January 2019)

For background data on the riding demographic, economic, social and political characteristics, see: February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (1-18 January 2019).

Ethnic Media Coverage

In contrast to coverage in the previous weeks, which included coverage of the general by-election announcement by more different language ethnic media, the past week was almost exclusively focused on Burnaby South and the ongoing controversy over the divisive remarks by former Liberal candidate Wang and overall issues related targeting ethnic votes, with only 41 media items compared to the 97 earlier in the month  .

Media coverage was overwhelmingly in Punjabi (39 percent) and 43.9 percent in Chinese, Cantonese and Mandarin language media. There was only one tangential media reference to Outremont in the context of NDP prospects.

The focus of candidate specific coverage was former Liberal candidate Wang and her efforts (unsuccessful) to distance herself from her comments on WeChat that basically said vote for the Chinese Canadian candidate, not the Indo-Canadian candidate. Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel’s revealing that Wang had sought being nominated and being rejected as a Conservative candidate was covered, as were Rempel’s press conference criticizing the Liberal government immigration record, including her statement that poor vetting had resulted in the killing of Burnaby teen Marrisa Shen by a Syrian refugee (charged, not yet convicted). The announcement of Wang’s replacement, Richard Lee, a former provincial politician was covered in summary fashion.

While NDP leader Singh’s housing, immigration (withdrawal from the Safe Third Country Agreement with the US)  and other policy proposals were covered, there was still some lingering coverage of his apparent unawareness of the implications of the Canadians detained in China in retaliation for the extradition proceedings against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Svend Robinson’s nomination as the NDP candidate for Burnaby North-Seymour after an 11 year absence was covered in Chinese media (the largest visible minority group in the riding). 

In terms of commentary (including analysis and opinion pieces), Punjabi media predominated with seven items and Chinese three. 

While most of these were neutral in tone, there were three critical pieces. Two of these were in Chinese media, which were highly critical of Wang and how ethnic politics was playing out among Chinese Canadians, and one in Punjabi media, making similar points with respect to Canadian Sikhs. There was one more positive piece on ethnic politics, noting that all candidates seek support from their ethnic group and that the Wang controversy was  “not a big deal.”

Related issues such as the ongoing dispute between Canada and China over the extradition request of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and the inappropriate comments regarding her possible extradition by Canada’s now former ambassador to China have not seen much by-election related coverage but are being covered by ethnic media separately.

See the MIREMS blog for some of the stories being covered: MIREMS blog.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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