By Lina Katrin
Since the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been debating over masks: should one wear them or not? How effective are they in preventing the spread of the virus? While some have very strong opinions regarding mask-wearing, others are still not sure what to do. Across ethnic media sources, there is a lot of commentary regarding the issue.
Amandeep Benipal, the host of the Punjabi radio show Morning Awaz with Aman Deep on CIAO 530 AM from Toronto, believes that people should wear masks because safety should be the main concern for Canadians as a high number of cases are being reported from across the border. Even though newly confirmed coronavirus cases in Canada remain in steady decline, the number of infected people is spiking in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. On the show, Benipal asks Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford to make a careful decision about reopening the Canada-U.S. border for public travel.
According to a Spanish talk show on CIRV FM 88.9 from Toronto, a study in Ontario showed that without the isolation measures, the death rate from the virus would have been much higher. Toronto’s City Council made masks mandatory in indoor public settings as of July 7, and masks are expected to be compulsory in Mississauga, Brampton, Durham, Niagara Region, and in many other municipalities in coming days. The talk show host Fabian Merlo said that initially wearing a mask bothered him but he is getting used to it, as it’s “a good thing to take care of each other.”
Now, will the mandate of mask-wearing change the behavior of those who have been against face coverings throughout the whole pandemic? Even though not wearing a mask is now a subject to a $195 fine, some people don’t like being told what to do. On OMNI TV: Focus Punjabi, a Punjabi TV program from Toronto, people on the street were asked about the mandatory mask order. While one man said that wearing a mask is a “good idea” to protect others, one woman believes people shouldn’t be forced to wear masks at all.
Americans reported being more likely to wear masks in public than Canadians.
American mask-wearing rate is currently at 71 percent compared to the Canadian 58 percent.
However, it is not surprising that some Canadians are unsure if there are any benefits to masks because of how the Canadian government handled the issue at the beginning of the pandemic. In the early stages of the outbreak, the federal government claimed that masks had little effect in terms of curbing the spread of the virus. Canada's Chief Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam had said in March that putting a mask on an asymptomatic person was not beneficial. Only at the end of May she finally changed her position and officially said that everyone should wear masks as an added layer of protection.
Dushi.ca, a Chinese web source from Markham, reports that mask-wearing appears to be a “simple issue” but since the Canadian government initially did not recommend wearing masks, a lot of non-Chinese Canadians were also against using face coverings. The source says that the Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations had been calling on people to wear masks and self-isolate since mid-March, and the Confederation's recommendation to the government regarding mask-wearing played a positive role. To support the government's pandemic prevention efforts, the Confederation will continue to donate protective supplies to nursing homes as well as to communities.
According to Sing Tao Calgary, a Chinese web source from Calgary, the Alberta government is set to resume its public face mask distribution program on July 13. This is the second phase of the province's public face mask distribution program that will distribute 20 million face masks. The phase-one program distributed the same amount of masks from June 8 to June 22.
Since many people have easy access to face coverings, Dushi.ca reports that Richard Powers, a business professor at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, said there's nothing wrong with businesses refusing service to customers not wearing masks. He believes that the safety of retail workers and employees exceeds the customers' right to not wear masks.
Canadian Tamil Radio, a Tamil source from Toronto, discusses how recommendations on non-medical masks have been confusing for many in Canada. Still, there is visible progress: a new online poll suggests that a bit more than half of Canadians support the mandate of face coverings. According to the survey, the majority of Canadians said they feel that people should wear protective masks when out in public or confined areas such as grocery stores, shopping malls, or public transit.
Dushi.ca believes that with the summer, the debate over masks in Canada is finally coming to an end. However, it is crucial to analyze the stem of the debate, which roots from the difference in the attitude of various cultures to face coverings.
Van People, a Chinese web source form Vancouver, reported in March that even when Canada's Chief Public Health Officer said it was unnecessary to wear masks, Chinese-Canadians chose to do so anyway. Still, Chinese people worried about being discriminated against for protecting themselves.
Similarly, 51.ca, a Chinese web source from Toronto, around the same time highlighted various comments under mask-related forums. One Internet user, Hongyuwu, wrote that if people continue to get “brainwashed” into thinking that the coronavirus is just a bad flu and don’t wear masks, “they would find out how painful it is once they get infected.”
Women wear face masks in public as a safety measure against the spread of COVID-19.
Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images
BBC reports that in East Asia, many people are used to wearing masks when they are sick or when it's hay fever season, because it's considered impolite to be sneezing or coughing openly. The article identifies the key difference between the Asian and Western societies — many parts of Asia have experienced contagion before, “and the memories are still fresh and painful.” That is probably one of the main reasons why many Asian people have embraced face coverings since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, while a lot of Westerners have shunned them.
According to Sciencenorway, in Japanese everyday life, wearing a face mask is associated with taking responsibility for your own and your family's health, and also for the financial situation of the company a person is working for and the nation's economy.
Alternatively, in many European countries, garments that cover the face are banned in schools and public institutions for security reasons. Sciencenorway reports that scientists have conducted a study on why many people in the USA are against wearing masks. Even though a large majority of the informants believed they could protect themselves and others by wearing a mask, they were still not willing to use one. The barriers included everything from others not being able to read their facial expressions to the risk that they could be suspected of planning a crime. The masks were also perceived as unattractive in appearance and uncomfortable to wear.
Such research points to the fact that people in Western societies are more likely to put their comfort above the safety guidelines due to the lack of personal experiences with health crises.
Even before the global coronavirus pandemic, people across the world have been wearing masks to protect themselves from pollution, sun exposure, and viruses. Yet with almost six months into living in the “new normal,” many Canadians are still arguing over the importance of face coverings. People of various cultural backgrounds wear masks mainly to protect each other and help slow down the spread of the virus, but at the end of the day, it is your choice whether to cover your face or not. It is important to stay open-minded, educate yourself on such prominent issues, and follow the safety guidelines to ensure protection for yourself and others.
By Muskan Sandhu
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the conference Stories of Hope: A Celebration of Canada, organized by the Association for Canadian Studies to celebrate Multiculturalism Day, were the diverse speakers who brought unique perspectives to the struggles of their communities in building an equitable Canada. The event effectively linked the “hope” to overcome these difficult times with diversity, in the process illuminating the importance of listening to myriad voices.
But how does one access these voices on days that aren’t set aside to celebrate multiculturalism? On days that do not shine a spotlight on diversity by articulating it in Canada’s official languages?
Michaëlle Jean, former Governor-General of Canada, gave us a hint in her opening remarks at the event when she thanked “those along the chain links of solidarity who persist in making the voices of the most vulnerable and the voices of the most deprived heard, their realities known.” Canadian ethnic media has been playing precisely the role of “those along the chain links of solidarity,” of making lesser-heard voices heard on days that aren’t earmarked for them, and thus this media is where one must look to hear diverse voices every day.
This isn’t to say that mainstream English and French media don’t give these voices space or importance. The perspective of ethnic media, however, differs in that it is often able to present what may be deemed as the ‘insider’s point of view,’ on issues that impact their respective communities, and give community-specific opinions on general matters. The coverage of the recent encounter between a South Asian woman and the wife of Delta Police Chief is a prime example that illustrates the existence and value of this viewpoint.
Kiran Sidhu’s alleged assault
Kiran Sidhu, a South Asian woman from Surrey, filed a complaint with Delta Police against Lorraine Dubord, wife of Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord, who according to Sidhu sprayed her down with a water hose. The alleged incident took place on June 6, when Sidhu was returning from a socially distanced party on Centennial beach and found herself trapped by a high tide as she made her way to her car parked far from the party spot. To circumvent the tides, which a police officer later informed Sidhu were 10-12 feet high, she climbed onto some rocks right next to the Dubord’s beach facing residence. While she made her way across the fence, L. Dubord came out of her house and allegedly started screaming insults at Sidhu, asking her to not touch Dubord's fence and to get off the rocks. Reportedly, L. Dubord went on to spray Sidhu down with a water hose, body-shamed her, and asked her to go back home as she didn’t belong there.
Sidhu’s friends arrived at the scene later and were seen confronting L. Dubord in a video posted by them on Facebook. Sidhu filed a police report with the Delta Police Department the next day, and was informed that the case was closed after a few days. Sidhu then filed a complaint, citing conflict of interest in DPD investigating their boss’s wife, and the case was then transferred to Surrey RCMP. L. Dubord later issued an apology, which according to Sidhu wasn’t a sincere one.
Image Source: Red FM 93.1 Face Book
Media coverage of the incident
The encounter between Sidhu and L. Dubord was covered by various prominent English newspapers from BC such as Vancouver Sun, Global News, CityNews, CTV News, and Delta Optimist. The first instance of coverage by these papers followed a similar pattern that delineated the series of events as narrated by Sidhu. These articles did have subtle differences in emphasis brought out by word choice--for example, Global News did not mention the fact that Sidhu is South Asian, or quote Sidhu’s comments that identify her as a racialized woman. On the other hand, CTV News identified Sidhu as South Asian and Delta Optimist and Vancouver Sun quoted her saying: “I was made to feel so unwelcome in these white spaces, which is something I’m aware of being a racialized woman in these white spaces as a teacher, as an active member of my union and I work on changing that.” Barring such choices, however, the articles remained almost identical in their approach of presenting the incident and the papers did not offer editorials on the matter.
The coverage of the encounter on Harjinder Thind Show, a prominent Punjabi radio show aired from Vancouver on Red FM 93.1, distinguished itself by going a step further and contextualizing the matter in terms of Delta’s community relations and the Delta police department’s role in them. In Thind’s 3.5-hour long daily morning show, the report of the encounter between Sidhu and L. Dubord was given space in both news and commentary segments. In the news segments, broadcast four times at regular intervals during the show, the incident was reported in a manner similar to that of the aforementioned mainstream articles with the exception of L. Dubord being identified as White and Sidhu being identified as Punjabi. In the segment where Thind spoke to Sidhu on call, Sidhu repeated much of what she had stated to different English media houses, both in print and on television.
Where Thind brought the issue to life was in his 6-minute long commentary on the subject. Thind introduced the issue in the context of the ongoing local discussions around racism and went on to paint a historical picture of the relationship of the Delta Police with the people of colour in its jurisdiction. Thind said:
North Delta’s policing has always been of prime quality. Jim Cessford was the Delta police chief for a long time, and, during his tenure, there was a large population of Indians and people of colour in North Delta. Cessford maintained very good relations with them. As the king does, so do his subjects; the behaviour of the police chief starts reflecting throughout the police department to a certain extent. In the last few months, there have been several reports relating to people of colour from Delta. People of colour used to say that they are proud of the Delta Police and Jim Cessford--Delta’s crime rate was very low as compared to Surrey. But recently, there have been instances where the police have been harassing people of colour with one excuse or the other, be it house calls, approaching someone randomly, or using an unworthy choice of words with truckers, such as the instance with Inderjeet Singh that I discussed earlier. Now, such behaviour meted out by the wife of the chief of the same police department, towards a Punjabi lady, is hurtful.
By presenting Sidhu’s encounter within its historical context, Thind transcended the space between the individual and the community. Sidhu’s alleged assault was not simply seen as a rare personal issue, but one that raised questions about community relations and policing in Delta. It drew attention to the fact that this wasn’t an isolated incident and was one that warranted attention to context. Thind also added an emotive layer to his analysis - L. Dubord’s behaviour wasn’t simply wrong, but also hurtful. In this fashion, Thind became the voice of the community in a matter of injustice meted out to an individual.
The role Thind played in reporting Sidhu’s story is one that ethnic media journalists play on a day to day basis. While ethnic media performs the same tasks and functions as mainstream English and French media, it also brings to the fore community perspectives on local, provincial, national, and international subjects, often morphing into a communal voice. If one were to listen closely to the stories ethnic media shares daily, multiculturalism would be an everyday celebration.
Image Source for Stories of Hope: A Celebration of Canada - Association for Canadian Studies website https://acs-aec.ca/en/main/
PRINT - Corriere Canadese - Toronto, 29/06/2020 - ARTICLE, p. 3, Italian
Image Source: Corriere Canadese website
Summary Translation: Mariella Policheni - Sensitivity to racism against Blacks and Indigenous people and commitment to bringing in policy changes will be prerequisites in selecting a new Toronto police chief, according to Mayor John Tory. Tory said whoever succeeds outgoing chief Mark Saunders must commit to confronting anti-Black racism and discrimination, which are still “very present in our city.” Meanwhile, City Council must consider a proposal by Tory to introduce a number of changes to Toronto’s policing system, including the creation of an “alternative community safety model.” Tory's recommendations do not call for cutting police funding, a demand that has become a battle cry for Black Lives Matter.
Link to original article: https://www.corriere.ca/toronto/tory-il-futuro-chief-sensibile-al-razzismo/
WEB - Philippine Canadian News - National, 19/06/2020 - EDITORIAL, English
Image Source: Philippine Canadian News website
Summary: Ted Alcuitas - Why white-privilege training can't fix Vancouver politics - or many other broken institutions. The Vancouver City Council recently put forward a dizzying spread of anti-racism measures. This equity-infused smorgasbord of actionable items includes: piloting anti-Black-racism and white-privilege awareness training, declaring a new Day of Action Against Racism and developing an “Equity Framework” to implement a race-forward equity and intersectional lens on city decision-making. However the same anti-racism measures, are also intended to preserve the systemic racism deeply rooted in Vancouver municipal politics. Yes, they are the same set of measures. Fixing institutional racism doesn’t need more sensitivity training, it requires real measures, such as electoral reforms that end exclusion. These types of in-case-of-fire-break-glass boilerplate solutions — issuing pro-diversity statements or recommending anti-racism training — are not a new tactic. They are used frequently by all range of companies, politicians and sports team owners, often when scrambling to respond (or deflect attention from) some form of crisis. And while these gestures sparkle with the right PR optics, they are little more than an illusion when it comes to actual progress. To wit, an International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination already exists on March 21. Vancouver residents don’t need another calendar date to fix this city’s broken political system, which has one big, fat, root systemic issue: representation. Every elected Vancouver city councilor or mayor, almost without exception, is white. This despite Vancouver being a city where half the population is not. This core problem will not be resolved by numbing city staff with more diversity workshops. It can and will, however, be resolved by the mayor and council committing to the only efficacious diversity measure at their disposal: upgrading the current at-large based election system to a ward-based version. The implementation of a standard ward system — one used in cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and others — would finally allow Vancouver residents from all racial backgrounds much greater access to real power in the city.
Link to original article: https://philippinecanadiannews.com/canada/why-is-the-city-of-vancouver-council-too-white/
RADIO - CMR FM 101.3 Tamil Morning - Toronto, 22/06/2020 - NEWS, Tamil
Summary Translation: Military police are investigating reports of a service member spreading racist pictures even as top defence officials apologize for their slow response to questions about systemic racism in the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. Canada's top military and civilian defence leaders revealed the investigation in a letter to the troops Friday that promised to root out all racism while acknowledging "the social structures that formed our nation disproportionately privileged white people." "We reaffirm our commitment that no defence team members should feel unwelcome in a room, workshop, drill hall, ship or airfield," added Defence Department deputy minister Jody Thomas and chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance.
PRINT - Today Commercial News - Toronto, 19/06/2020 - ARTICLE, Chinese
Summary Translation: Ke Ma - A former Chinese-Canadian police officer in Toronto said that he does not know what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meant by the existence of “systemic racism” in police forces. The officer added that even if racism exists in police forces at all, it is by no means prevalent and only manifests itself in isolated cases. The article remarks that racism is considered illegal in Canada. In addition, the training of police officers is very strict, and officers are very cautious in race-related matters.
Link to original article: pg. 4 http://todaycommercialnews.com/m/epaper
RADIO - Red FM 93.1 Punjabi Morning - Vancouver, 18/06/2020 - COMMENTARY, Punjabi
Summary Translation: Harjinder Thind - These days, racism is getting attention. Charanpal Singh Gill and his group have been fighting racism for the past 40 years, but their methods were different. First, they tried to raise awareness, and when that did not work, things got violent. At that time, racism was different: White people would beat up Black people; spit on people of colour, turbaned people, and women wearing suits; and cause various types of harm. Therefore, the form of defence was also violent. Now the conversation is about systemic racism. There is individual racism, but institutional racism is the worst: that is, if the system is such that policies themselves are racist. Individual racism depends on one person and can be transferred to their children. For example, White people sitting in a car talking will lock their car instantly if a turbaned or Black person passes their vehicle, which they would not do if it were a White person. This is individual racism. Individual racism is often unconscious. Institutional racism is in the system and is ingrained in policies. For example, the RCMP's initial hiring policy was to hire only White blond men taller than six feet with green eyes. This is why Vancouver's elementary school teachers association has passed a resolution banning the entry of the Vancouver Police Department in schools because they stop and ask questions based on a person's colour. As they have the carding system, they racially profile. The association said that they do not want the Vancouver police to enter schools as liaison officers. No one has said anything against the decision because now there is a wave in favour of people of colour, Indigenous people, and gender equity to overcome systemic racism. RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki repeatedly said that there is no systemic racism. The argument in Parliament was also with regard to systemic racism. The Prime Minister has affirmed that there is systemic racism in the RCMP.
PRINT - Puls - Mississauga, 18/06/2020 - ARTICLE, Polish
Image Soure: PULS newspaper
Summary Tanslation: Zbigniew Jemiola - White people generally don’t admit they are racist. It gets even more complicated for white immigrants. This group, regardless of the colour of their skin, experiences difficulties when settling in Canada. White immigrants find it difficult to accept that they are perceived as people who enjoy “white privilege” because it is not easy to adapt to a new country, and often white immigrants themselves experience discrimination and have to overcome prejudice. Except that white immigrants do benefit from being perceived as “white” and after few years, they blend into the surrounding environment. The same cannot be said about immigrants from other races; they will always be identified by the colour of their skin. It’s no wonder that the young generation is now demanding drastic changes. The police especially have to face increased scrutiny and look into systemic racism within the police itself. A black person in Toronto is 20 times more likely to be shot dead by police than a white person, according to a 2018 report from the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). This report and others point to persistent concerns about anti-black racism policing in Toronto.
WEB - Russian Express - Toronto, 12/06/2020 - COMMENTARY, Russian
Image Source: Russian Express https://russianexpress.net/
Summary Translation: A. Gladkov - The author discusses the anti-police campaign in Canada, and the fact that mass media is circulating demands to disperse the police. Unable to withstand the pressure, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders resigned: an African-American Chief of the service which is accused of racism against African-Americans. However, the author says that Saunders could have left his post much earlier. Chief Saunders could have resigned last fall, when he announced that Toronto is a safe city unless you visit its dangerous neighbourhoods when it gets dark. Probably, Saunders already knew that the gangsters shoot and kill at any time, anywhere, including busy downtown streets. However, his words were also a hidden acknowledgement of the fact that the police were no longer able to effectively ensure that Toronto remains a safe city. Therefore, the author says that the anti-police campaign and comments of some Canadian politicians, including the "top" ones, about the "widespread" racism in Canada, seem completely unacceptable. According to the author, a responsible politician should talk about how fair and democratic Canadian society is, how much it has achieved in the fight against racism and inequality. The author continues by saying that the absence of “systemic racism” in Canada is evidenced by an open immigration policy, by the official multiculturalism policy, by employment priorities for racial and other minorities, and by a desire of millions of Africans, Hispanics and Asians to immigrate to Canada. The author admits that police reform is needed in order to to make its work more effective. But this has nothing to do with "racism." The anti-police campaign does not help the fight against crime. The author says that "this hysteria is contrary to the interests of the vast majority of the Canadian population, who see the police as the last defence against the invincible and ubiquitous armed gangster."
Link to original article: https://russianexpress.net/nid/26226?mid=864
By Lina Katrin
Image source: collage of ethnic media stories
Self-reflection is crucial in times of public unrest, and it is time to look at the facts. The issue of racism is not new, and everyone who says there is no definite answer on whether systematic racism exists in Canada is turning a blind eye to people’s testimonies. In fact, several ethnic media outlets have come forward with opinions on and discussions about the history of unjust discrimination in Canada and repetitive instances of police brutality toward minorities.
On OMNI News: Punjabi Edition, a Punjabi TV program from Toronto, U of T Sociology Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah reminded the viewers: “We don’t have a Canada without the Indian Act, residential schools, and the reservation system. We don’t have Canada without slavery and segregation.” To this day the old system and beliefs influence how employers perceive the potential work ethic of job applicants or how the police decide who they want to stop and search.
Similarly, Annie Lu of Ottawazine, a Chinese web source from Ottawa, said she believes Canadians pay little attention to racial discrimination in their own country. She urged Canadians to take care of their own domestic affairs first and recognize that Black people are suffering due to discrimination. On Mark & Jem in the Morning, a Caribbean radio program aired on G 98.7 FM from Toronto, the hosts provided an example: last fall, an independent study showed a Black person was four times more likely to be stopped by officers.
According to CBC News, since Caucasians are the largest racial group in Canada, they represent nearly half the victims of police violence in the database. However, when taking into account the racial and ethnic composition of the overall population, two distinct groups are overwhelmingly over-represented in these encounters: black and Indigenous people.
It is important to remember that behind each statistic there are real people who suffer from years of oppression. On CIAO 530 AM Punjabi in Toronto, former immigration minister and current Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Ahmed Hussen, said that despite his high-profile position, anti-black racism is a part of his life – and that so many of others. During the interview, he shared that he still gets followed around in stores and has a visceral reaction when police vehicles are nearby.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan also shared his experiences with discrimination with the Canadian Punjabi Post, a Toronto-based newspaper. He said: “It’s the sort of story Canadians love to boast about: a country so accepting of others that even our most tradition-loving institutions will immediately welcome people of all colours and backgrounds. But it’s not the full story.” Sajjan said that in his early years in the military people were “throwing” power and privilege in his face, showing him the depth of racial prejudice in Canada.
These are just two stories of high-ranking Canadian government officials. What about the stories of countless Black victims who didn’t just experience an uncomfortable encounter with racism but lost their lives because of police violence and negligence? Van People, a Chinese web source from Vancouver, reported the recent death of a 29-year-old African-Canadian woman, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, as the fuse of Canada’s protests. As the tension between protesters and police officers is growing, it is quite easy to identify one of the main reasons for public frustration and calls for defunding the police — ignorance of the existence of systematic racism in Canada.
Fadi Al Harouni of RCI Arabic, a web source from Montreal, reported that although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Francois Legault agreed that racism against black people exists in Canada and must be combatted, the two disagreed on the presence of systematic racism in the country. Trudeau said: “Racism towards blacks, systemic discrimination, injustice, it is also with us.” Yet, many officials take Legault’s side. The hosts of Mark & Jem in the Morning specifically called Premier Doug Ford’s commentary on the US protests a “normal blind-sighted ignorance” when Ford said Canada doesn’t have the systemic deep-rooted racism of the US.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Stockwell Day, a former MP and a former cabinet minister of the federal government, both sided with Ford on the issue. Van People reported that Day was dismissed and resigned from two important positions within one day after denying that Canada is a racist country.
However, firing government officials and prosecuting police officers who take the lives of black people isn’t enough. The public is demanding a clear change in the system, starting by defunding the police.
Radio host Eric Sifuentes, speaking on Toronto’s CHIN 91.9 FM Spanish program, said that he isn’t against the police but is in favour of other areas of service, which don’t receive the same injection of public funding, such as services for children and sports. When the crime rate rises, there is a call for more police officers, but when the crime rate drops, there is a call to keep the number of police officers up to maintain the rate, according to Sifuentes. Silvia Mendez, another host on the show, said that the police have been receiving too much funding for too many years. They both agreed that in times of budget cuts, police shouldn’t be spared, and Sifuentes doesn’t want his property taxes funding “the most expensive force in the galaxy.”
Just this January, the city of Brampton welcomed the Ontario government’s funding announcement of $20.5 million for Peel Regional Police to increase resources to strengthen community safety initiatives, according to Urdu Times Canada, a newspaper from Toronto. During the announcement, Mayor Patrick Brown said: “I am grateful that Premier Ford and Solicitor General Jones have heard our call for guns and gang funding. This is an important tool that our police require to keep Brampton and Peel Region safe.” This statement creates an impression that there can be no safety unless the police have access to guns. Yet as recent events show, the immense power the funding grants the police can lead to more violence toward people of colour.
Defunding the police means reassigning some of its roles rather than abolishing it. Mark Strong of Mark & Jem in the Morning said that in Toronto, where almost a quarter of property taxes go to funding the police, two city councillors put forth a motion to cut the city's police budget by 10%. The hosts discussed how redirecting some of the funding would reassign certain functions that the police are not performing well, instances where there have been negative outcomes such as violence and criminalization.
For example, in the tragedy of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, the police didn’t take advantage of the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team initiative that was launched in February of this year, allegedly creating a new approach to first response to mental health crises. Prime News Canada, a Punjabi TV program in Brampton, reported that people call the police in an emergency but now with the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team, they are supposed to have a social worker and a health care professional with them to help provide people with the right health care. After Korchinski-Paquet's death, there are even more calls for redistributing the police departments’ funding toward organizations that are better prepared to provide essential services.
However, in January this year, Jasbir Shameel, the host of Good Morning Toronto, a Punjabi radio program on Red FM 88.9, expressed an alternative viewpoint, saying that the police budget cuts compromise public safety. Callers also said that increased immigration and migration in the Peel Region, especially in Brampton, is causing more crime in the area. Still, the police have proven time and time again that more funding doesn’t guarantee safety and protection. On the contrary, according to many spokespeople in the community, it gives the police power over people, and such power is often deadly toward minorities.
Racism didn’t start with George Floyd’s death. This issue is deeply rooted in our society, in ways we communicate and treat each other. This issue is ongoing, but enough is enough. What happened to Floyd, Korchinski-Paquet, and thousands of other black people who lost their lives because of police brutality is unacceptable, unforgivable, and measures need to be taken to rewrite the code and change the systemic racism in Canada. Many ethnic media outlets agree that the first step is to review police funding and make appropriate cuts. A caller on Red FM 88.9 Good Morning Toronto bottom-lines the argument: “The police are there to enforce the law and not to deliver justice.”
PRINT - Corriere Canadese - Toronto, 17/06/2020 - COMMENTARY, Italian
Image Source: Corriere Canadese website
Summary Translation: Joe Volpe - In Canada, being “bilingual” means being able to speak one of the two official languages as well as one’s own. Governments engaged in “nation-building” seem reticent to recognize this fact, except when they are in “campaign mode.” The “third-language” group is second only to the Anglophones in number. Given the immigration policies, it is the only one that is growing. The 2016 Census discovered that 23% of the population communicates in a “third” language. Sixty per cent of ethnic language periodicals have ceased publication, a number that could rise to 90% if the COVID-19 crisis continues much longer. The damage culturally and in terms of lost jobs and activities will surely reflect on senior levels of government.
RADIO - Red FM 93.1 Punjabi Morning - Vancouver, 12/06/2020 - COMMENTARY, Punjabi
Summary Translation: Harjinder Thind - There is talk that the RCMP should be more diverse. Commissioner Brenda Lucki also said that there can be improvement in the RCMP. Initially, the RCMP was a paramilitary force and consisted only of White people, and Indigenous people were not given entry into it. Slowly, different people came to be recruited, but today does the RCMP reflect the population it serves? For example, are the people of colour who live in Surrey reflected in the Surrey RCMP? So this is the biggest issue. Years ago, the decisions made for Indigenous people were made by boards consisting of White people. The population being served should be reflected in the boards. That is why a long time ago, I [the host] started a campaign on this show for employment equity on decision-making boards in British Columbia, such as the Fraser Health Board, where there were no people of colour when its policies would impact a large number of people of colour. Now there is some improvement, but it still is not enough. Now there is pressure for more diversity to be visible in the RCMP. We hope that diversity will increase. It should not happen that people of colour in the RCMP are unable to rise above the position of constable. It should not happen that they do not rise above certain ranks and other less deserving people rise instead.
Peel Police Services Board will take every step to fix accountability and win trust of the people: Ron Chatha - Punjabi
PRINT - Canadian Punjabi Post - Toronto, 10/06/2020 - NEWS, Punjabi
Summary Translation: Chairman of the Peel Police Services Board Ron Chatha says that they can feel the restlessness, fear and anger among a large number of people in North America because of the recent incidents [around George Floyd]. Ron says he wants to assure that Peel Regional Police and The Peel Police Services Board are standing with all those people who are heartbroken and perturbed by the recent facts. He says the board will ensure everyone is accountable for every decision, which will be taken to win the confidence of the people.
RADIO - CHIN 91.9 FM Spanish - Toronto, 10/06/2020 - TALK SHOW, Spanish
Image Source: https://www.ctvnews.ca/
Summary Translation: Eric Sifuentes, Silvia Mendez - According to radio host Eric Sifuentes, he has been consistent for years in his opinion regarding de-funding the police. It's not that he is against the police, but he is in favour of other areas which don't receive the same injection of public funding. This includes important areas like services for children and sports, among other things. It's not that we monopolize municipal funding for the police, but in Eric Sifuentes' opinion, funding has been too favourable for them. For example, Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earn less than the Toronto police chief, who earns more than $1,000 per day. Eric Sifuentes asks is this is fair and does this make sense? He sure doesn't think so, and he noted that the police don't want Mark Saunders. This is creating an uncomfortable situation for the police union, which is very powerful. Mark Saunders could have been a police chief who implemented reforms. Radio host Silvia Mendez said that the police have been receiving too much funding for too many years. When the crime rate rises, there is a call for more police officers, but when the crime rate drops, there is a call to keep the number of police up to maintain the rate, noted Eric Sifuentes. The police do a good job, but not all problems in society need to be solved by the police. It's unfortunate what happened to George Floyd but his legacy is bringing about a much needed change in policing. In times of budget cuts, why are the police always spared? Eric Sifuentes is tired of seeing this year after year in Toronto, and sick of seeing his property taxes going to fund the most expensive police force in the galaxy.
WEB - RCI Arabic - 09/06/2020 - NEWS, Arabic
Image Source: https://www.rcinet.ca
Summary Translation: Dan Brian, spokesman for the RCMP, confirmed that the police will begin providing some of their members with body cameras, in a move that coincided with mass demonstrations denouncing the police’s aggressiveness. The decision came after the prime minister made a phone call to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki expressing his desire to provide all RCMP personnel with body cameras while carrying out their duties. Brian said that he does not yet know the cost of the project and who it is responsible for it.
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