Diversity Votes — February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (31 January to 8 February 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). 

Note: While Chinese in the chart of ethnic media coverage refers to written media, Cantonese and Mandarin to broadcast oral media, I generally summarize all three as Chinese media except where indicated. 

Ethnic Media Coverage

The ongoing focus on Burnaby South continued, with more articles commenting on the risks to  Jagmeet Singh’s leadership of the NDP should he not win the by-election in both Punjabi and Chinese (Chinese, Cantonese and Mandarin) media. Overall, coverage increased slightly to 25 articles compared to 18 the previous week (earlier weeks had 41 and 97 articles) .

Media coverage was roughly evenly split between Punjabi (44 percent) and 40 percent in Chinese media. 

In addition to the risks to Jagmeet Singh’s leadership, NDP fund-raising difficulties were covered as well as the Party’s poor prospects in Outremont based on polling data in Punjabi media. Singh’s universal pharmacare plan received coverage but was largely drowned out by stories concerning the risks to his leadership.

Stories covered in Chinese media included the risks to Singh’s leadership, that former Liberal candidate Karen Wang would not run as an independent (and noting her pregnancy), the visit of Andrew Scheer and his criticism of how the Liberals have handled the dispute with China over the requested extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, and that NDP leader Singh appeared to be in the dark regarding the change in his caucus’s position on the legitimacy of Venezualan leader Maduro. 

The all candidates meeting for Burnaby South was covered in both Punjabi and Chinese media, with the latter noting the “fiery debate.”

Korean media coverage focussed on the visit to Burnaby South of Conservative leader Scheer and the formal launch of Conservative candidate Jay Shin, who is of Korean descent. Scheer’s visit was also covered in Chinese media but curiously not in Punjabi or South Asian English media. An article in Arabic media focussed on the importance of Outremont to both Liberals and the NDP, as well as Quebec ridings overall to the Liberal re-election plans.

Five commentary pieces in Punjabi media appeared this past week. Three of these focussed on the electoral prospects of Singh and the NDP, with two highlighting the risks to his leadership and the generally poor prospects of the NDP. One noted that Singh’s prospects had improved given the controversial remarks of former Liberal candidate Karen Wang while another one criticized those who circulate fake news and rumours regarding Singh. Tarek Fatah’s previously published critique of ethnic voting (The Bankruptcy of Ethnic Vote Banks) was reprinted in English in the Punjabi media.

In general election coverage, the government’s announcement of measures to reduce foreign interference in the federal election continued to receive considerable coverage. Other stories of interest included former NDP leader Mulcair’s comments regarding the possible shift of NDP voters to the Green Party, and questions surrounding the controversial $300,000 fundraiser by Brampton area MP Raj Grewal in both Punjabi and Chinese media. Cantonese media covered the Conservative plans to assist candidates in their communication skills.

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

Mulcair, the niqab and ‘a dangerous game’ – Patriquin

Patriquin gets it right:

It’s gross stuff, reminiscent of the Parti Québécois identity campaign of 2014, and it deserves to be shouted down. Tonight, finally, one of the leaders did just this. Tom Mulcair’s statement during the fifth and final election debate on those few square inches of face-covering cloth deserves to be quoted in its entirety.

“The way Mr. Harper says it, it’s like there are people here that are pro-niqab. No one here is pro-niqab. We realize that we live in a society where we must have confidence in the authority of the tribunals, even if the practice is uncomfortable to us. If a journalist says something that is uncomfortable to me, I still support his right to say it. Mr. Harper, you are playing a dangerous game of the kind I’ve never seen in my life.”

Since the outset of the campaign, the NDP leader has been dogged with accusations of political pandering—of changing his message depending on the audience. Yet here he was in Quebec, the NDP’s power base and the place where anti-niqab sentiment is at its highest, saying exactly what much of his electorate doesn’t want to hear.

….But back to Mulcair. In the throes of the 2014 Quebec election, when the Parti Québécois introduced a bill that would ban religious head coverings of all sorts from Quebec’s civil service, it was Trudeau who denounced it as an unseemly electoral gambit. Mulcair remained largely silent. “We don’t want to give ammunition to the separatists,” his aide told me at the time.

The PQ ended up losing the election. As it turned out, the scapegoating of religious minorities wasn’t boffo electoral fodder after all. Quiet then, Mulcair was anything but tonight, giving Conservative and Bloc attempt to capitalize on fear the full-throated condemnation it deserves. Mulcair is nothing if not calculating, and perhaps he has calculated that the niqab isn’t nearly the electoral millstone some of his opponents hope. That is a hell of a gamble. It is also an honourable one.

Source: Mulcair, the niqab and ‘a dangerous game’ – Macleans.ca

Behind the Komagata Maru’s fight to open Canada’s border and the Question of an Apology

Fascinating account of the legal battles and the lawyer, J. Edward Bird, regarding the passengers of the Komagata Maru. Well worth reading:

The government’s strategy became clear the very day the Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver. Health screening, a process normally completed within an hour, followed by immigration board interviews of all passengers, dragged on for days. The ship became a prison – no one was allowed off or on; food and water began to run low. The passengers’ lawyer, J. Edward Bird, was denied the right of access to his clients for weeks.

“I can only surmise that the instructions from the department at Ottawa to the immigration authorities here was to delay matters and delay matters and procrastinate and delay until such time as these people were starved back to their original port from whence they came,” he told a meeting hall packed with both South Asians and whites on June 21. “They talk about socialists and anarchists. There are no set of anarchists in Canada like the immigration officials who defy all law and order.”

Behind the Komagata Maru’s fight to open Canada’s border – The Globe and Mail

Interesting that Leader of the Opposition Tom Mulcair has called for a formal apology in Parliament.

I witnessed PM Harper’s “drive-by” apology in 2008 at the Surrey community picnic and it was not pretty. I quickly came to the conclusion that if governments wished to apologize (without legal liability for events which occurred in the past), the only acceptable way to do so was in Parliament, as was the case for Indian Residential Schools, the Chinese Head Tax, and Japanese WW2 Internment:

As we celebrate Asian Heritage Month this May, we cannot ignore the mistakes of our past — we must remember the history of the Komagata Maru Tragedy.

We must condemn these acts, respectfully, officially, and with sincerity, no matter when they occurred.

That is why New Democrats stand with members of the Indo-Canadian community in their call for an official apology from the Parliament of Canada for the Komagata Maru Tragedy.

In 2012, Canada’s New Democrats presented an Opposition Day Motion calling on Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to deliver an apology long overdue — they refused.

While successive Liberal and Conservative governments have failed to do the right thing, the NDP has always advocated for an apology.

Today, we renew our call.

Let’s not wait another 100 years to do the right thing — it’s time for the government to act now.

Mulcair: 100 years after Komagata Maru tragedy, Parliament’s apology is overdue | Toronto Star.

Le ministre Kenney appuie le projet de charte de Couillard | Charte de la laïcité

Federal reactions to Premier-elect Couillard’s proposed Chartre de laicité. Minister Kenney focussing on the proposed ban on receiving government services for women wearing the niqab/burqa, other federal leaders expressing general confidence that a reasonable approach will be taken without commenting on the specifics:

«J’ai toujours dit que ce serait inadmissible pour un fonctionnaire fédéral de traiter un client, un citoyen à visage couvert», a déclaré le ministre fédéral du Multiculturalisme.

M. Kenney dit n’avoir jamais entendu parler d’un tel cas au fédéral, mais qu’on lui avait rapporté que des personnes avaient prêté serment de citoyenneté canadienne le visage caché. Il affirme avoir ensuite publié une règle pour interdire cette pratique.

Le ministre de Stephen Harper avait dans le passé été cinglant envers le projet de charte des valeurs québécoises du gouvernement péquiste. Il avait même dit que le fédéral irait devant les tribunaux pour protéger les droits des minorités religieuses si la charte ne respectait pas les droits et libertés des citoyens.

Quant à savoir pourquoi l’interdiction du voile le choquait et non pas celle d’interdire le visage couvert, il a expliqué que l’usage pour les femmes musulmanes de cacher leur visage n’est pas une pratique religieuse, mais bien une «coutume culturelle».

Minister Kenney’s position evolved over time; initially, he appeared to give more weight to religious freedom when the niqab issue was first raised in the 2007-08 Quebec debates on reasonable accommodation (I cover this in chapter 5 of my book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism).

Le ministre Kenney appuie le projet de charte de Couillard | Stéphanie Marin | Charte de la laïcité.

Within the PQ, the start of some reflection regarding the Charter, and it will be interesting to see how they position themselves with respect to the upcoming Liberal version, and whether they use that to turn the page on what was a cynical and divisive election strategy:

Le problème qu’a posé la Charte des valeurs en campagne électorale est abordé de front dans un texte rendu public hier par Jean-François Lisée sur son blogue. Hier, le ministre sortant refusait de préciser sa pensée en entrevue; le texte suffit, a-t-il expliqué. Dans son texte, Lisée relève que les stratèges péquistes auraient pu centrer davantage la campagne sur les questions identitaires comme la Charte et la langue. Le projet de charte aurait été mieux accueilli avec un bouquet de mesures favorables à l’immigration. Surtout, la proposition aurait nécessité «un ensemble cohérent et plus attractif».

Accessoirement, comme l’ex-ministre Joseph Facal, Lisée estime aussi qu’il aurait fallu encadrer étroitement la sortie de Janette Bertrand en fin de campagne. Mme Marois, qui a louvoyé et dit que des femmes congédiées pour leur voile obtiendraient de l’aide du gouvernement pour se recaser dans le secteur privé, n’a pas aidé. «Une meilleure gestion, en amont, de la question des congédiements n’aurait certes pas nui non plus», observe Lisée.

Dans l’analyse la plus fine jusqu’ici des causes de la déroute péquiste de lundi, Lisée explique que les stratèges de la campagne péquiste, dont il ne faisait pas partie, prend-il soin de préciser, étaient convaincus que l’entrée en scène de Pierre Karl Péladeau allait attirer des sympathisants caquistes au PQ. Une «présomption raisonnable», observe Lisée.

Les langues se délient au PQ

PQ leader Pauline Marois losing her feminist allies: Hébert | Toronto Star

One of the ironies of the debate over the proposed Charter.

PQ leader Pauline Marois losing her feminist allies: Hébert | Toronto Star.

And in other Charter-related news, Tom Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition and NDP, maintains his position against the proposed Charter but will not provide any funding for a legal challenge, trimming his sails somewhat:

Charte des valeurs québécoises – Thomas Mulcair modère ses intentions

And no surprise, the hijab is largely accepted, the niqab is not. Previous polls in English Canada are similar; covering the face is rejection and separation, not integration:

Pour certaines personnes, c’est le concept de la domination homme-femme. D’autres ont tout simplement un sentiment anti-islam. Mais il y a aussi le fait que le niqab crée une distance entre les gens qui est en dehors des normes sociales. Des gens vivent un inconfort par rapport à ça.

Sondage sur la tolérance des Québécois: le hijab oui, le niqab non

Charte des valeurs québécoises – Round-up

Starting with some political analysis on how this is playing out on the national and provincial stage. Some good insights on the leadership styles – strengths and weakness – of both federal leaders in Quebec. My own take is that while both ended up in the same place, first mover advantage Trudeau.

On PQ charter, Trudeau and Mulcair take different paths to condemnation – The Globe and Mail.

John Ibbitson of The Globe notes the political challenges and calculations for the government, and why they have hewed to a more cautious approach while being clear on their fundamental opposition:

Can Tories put the heat on Quebec over its secular charter without getting burned?

Andrew Coyne argues that the PQ may have over-reached, and may have as much support in the end as it counted on. And bang on implications and implementation:

But not to worry, the minister responsible, Bernard Drainville, assures us: “It will be done humanely.” But of course. They will not be told to get out in a cruel way, but with care, compassion, or what the minister calls “good old common sense.” It will simply be made clear to these people, as kindly as the occasion permits, that, notwithstanding their years of blameless service, their continued employment is incompatible with Quebec’s common values — that their insistence on wearing the yarmulke or the turban, in accordance with the deepest teachings of their faith, has become a source of “tension” and “division,” and that for that reason they will have to find other work.

Far from certain Quebecers will side with PQ on values charter

Tabatha Southey does a funny yet serious take on the approach, citing her mother, following hair loss due to chemo, reached out to the Muslim Canadian community for help in wearing a scarf elegantly.

The Quebec charter: Maman, qu’est-ce qu’un turban?

 And Maria Mourani, former Bloc MP, who left the party and questions her faith in sovereignty given the divisiveness of the Charte and the implications for her vision of an open, inclusive and independent Quebec. Her action, and criticism of other indépendentistes like her of the Charte, may help Quebec get past the identity politics. One can aim for rural Quebec; one can’t ignore Montréal.

Mourani remet en question sa foi en la souveraineté

And a good summary in The Globe about Quebec’s francophone press reaction, largely negative:

What Quebec’s francophone media thinks of the secular charter 

Lastly, some general opinion pieces. Starting with Conrad Black reminding us of the role the Catholic Church played for most of Quebec’s history in preserving Quebec’s francophone culture and society (he glosses over the less savoury aspects):

Spurning Quebec’s proud Catholic roots

And a couple of opinion pieces (Brian Lee Crowley, André Schutten) that blur the lines between what people wear and performing their job. It is one thing to express one’s faith; it is another thing to expect that one’s duties on the job should accommodate those beliefs.

As public servants, we have an obligation to serve all citizens, and provide the required services of the government. We cannot pick and choose; we can likely however find alternative work within government without such matter of conscience issues. And if we can’t, we should work elsewhere.

Quebec charter wrong in execution, not principle

Who is calling the kettle black over Quebec values?

Charte des valeurs québécoises: Articles

Another series of articles on the proposed Charte des valeurs québécoises.

First, confirmation that the government plans to go ahead, and leak is likely more than trial balloon:

Charte des valeurs québécoises: Drainville dit unir les Québécois | Paul Journet | Politique québécoise.

Quatre conditions pour un accommodement raisonnable

Secondly, a piece by Jocelyn Maclure, quoted in a CBC interview earlier, speaks strongly of the risks and dangers of such a rigid, exclusionary approach, and notes the false assumption that the Canadian and Quebec charters of rights allow every form of accommodation, where the reality is different:

Charte des valeurs québécoises – Le jeu dangereux du Parti québécois

And from the English media, Farzana Hassan, former president of the secular Muslim Canadian Congress, a harsh critique, particularly interesting how consistently strong the MCC has been on secularism:

More xenophobia from PQ’s Marois

And a few pieces on some of the broader ethical and rights issues involved from professors of religion and ethics: Ian Henderson and Margaret Somerville:

 The state cannot decide what is a religious symbol

Op-Ed: Quebec bans religion from the public square (I do disagree with her definition of ‘freedom from religion’; religious freedom applies to all, whether they are believers or non-believers, the issue is whether or not the government allows people this freedom.

On the federal political level, interesting to see how this plays out. One leader has been clear and categorical against it (Trudeau, the same week as his marijuana revelations), the Prime Minister has ducked the issue but the real Minister for multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, issued a strong tweet, and the NDP and official opposition leader has also ducked, saying he will await the actual bill before commenting. Not inspiring leadership that.