Ontario’s dynamic provincial election has almost come to an end. What began as a big lead for Doug Ford and the Conservatives has splintered into sweeping new support for Andrea Horwath and the NDP, and steep losses—bookended by Kathleen Wynne’s concession of defeat—for the Liberals.
With swift changes in the polls, allegations and denials, bad budgets and no budgets the election campaign has kept voters on their toes and glued to the news.
MIREMS has paid close attention to the multilingual and multicultural media during this time. Editorials, opinion pieces, columns and commentary stories help us understand not only what is being said, but by who, and why. And following the storytellers, not just the stories, can be illuminating.
In the city of Brampton, where 27.8 percent of people speak a language other than English most often at home the ethnic media has been vocal throughout the campaigns. After allegations of PC candidate Simmer Sandhu’s involvement in the 407 ETR data breach Punjabi CAIO 530 AM Morning called Sandhu, who pulled out of the East Brampton race, “a nice and educated guy.” A different tone came from Canadian Punjabi Post which wrote that the incident changed the entire campaign atmosphere in all of Brampton. Continuing to say “Ford’s charisma has faded away in Brampton and the situation has directly benefited the NDP.” An editorial from Canadian Punjabi Post questioned Ford’s decision to nominate Sudeep Verma as Sandhu’s replacement and not Naval Bajaj, who was second in the nomination race asking “whether Doug Ford’s decision to nominate Verma was a political flaw or a gift to the NDP?”
Mark Strong on Caribbean Radio G 98.7 FM Mark & Jem in the Morning called Wynne’s admission of defeat “very selfish.” Mentioning as well how Horwath said Wynne was playing a dangerous game conceding but encouraging people to vote Liberal anyways to create a minority government. The host said Ford says he’s there to work for the people “while the NDP stands for the wrong kind of change.”
A twice-monthly Punjabi source from Toronto, Good News, also weighed in on the election this week. The author, Ebram Magar predicts June 7 will be a historic day for Ontario. “Ontario is living in its worst days since 2003,” says Magar. He says the Liberal party is “weak, has nothing to offer and many failed projects.” Magar continued saying: “Many believe the NDP is an extension of the Liberal party; it is a party that has expensive plans and they plan for more debt, increases to the Carbon Taxes, and teaching sex ed in schools. Their plan is to make this province a sanctuary. The NDP wants to offer anyone crossing the border into Ontario access to all health and social services, even for illegal people. This will not be paid out of Andrea's pocket, but out of our pockets.” The article didn’t support Ford’s conservatives outright, but gave clear criticism towards his opponents.
In contrast, an editorial in Italian Corriere Canadese called the Conservative’s campaign a “trainwreck.” Saying the only reason people have not turned their back on them is the desire for a change in government and the “right-wing media’s emphasis on Liberal and NDP mistakes, while ignoring those of the Tories.”
Mónica Percivale wrote a column for Spanish Correo Canadiense titled: The verb, to vote: How to conjugate it for the June 7 election. She argued that all parties and candidates have their flaws and features, but that the NDP offers excellent options—with Hispanic candidates in two ridings “who will without a doubt bring our needs and concerns to the provincial legislature if they are elected.” She encourages all readers to “vote without fear and with the conviction that exercising our sovereign right to vote can only strengthen us.”
Amid Ford’s plans for a buck-a-beer and scrapping the carbon tax, his plans for cannabis registered on ethnic media’s radar. MIREMS knows multilingual and multicultural communities have often expressed unique opinions about cannabis legalization. And during this campaign, conservative-leaning publications criticised Ford’s stance on cannabis legalization. In Toronto’s Chinese Today Commercial News Ze Hui wrote that Ford’s plan to create a free cannabis market will “lead to further proliferation of the substance in the community.”
An editorial from Manuel da Costa in Toronto’s Portuguese Milenio Stadium gave some scathing and almost humourous remarks after the final leadership debate in Toronto:
“I’m sorry some people want me to stop writing. Sorry, I won’t. “I am really sorry that more people don’t like me, but I’m not sorry about what I’m about to say,” said Wynne. I watched the last leaders’ debate and started liking Kathleen Wynne. The insanity of it all changed my view about the future of this province. Wynne looked proper and professional, hiding the fact that she has harmed this province for the last 5 years. So Sorry! Ford, showing his chest hair because he can’t afford a Deco Label tie attempted to scare the voters about the other parties but is without any substance. And then Horwath, with red lipstick and a blue blouse couldn’t make up her mind about which party she should belong to. Maybe an orange outfit would suffice and she could move in with Justin Trudeau. The three candidates all offered recipes for disasters. Shame on them for not taking the interests of the voters seriously. Sorry!"
Following these editorials, columns and opinion pieces provides MIREMS with a direct line to the opinions of publishers and commentators that are being shared with listeners and readers across the province in their mother tongue or from the mouth of someone who is a part of their community.
The Ontario provincial election is still too close to call, with election day a week out. What began with Rob Ford and the Conservatives with a clear lead has become a much closer competition. Since May 1, Andrea Horwath and the NDP have been steadily rising in the polls: Slated to snag seats long held by the Liberal and Conservative parties.
This is Horwath’s fourth provincial election—third as leader of the NDP—and she’s got her work cut out for her if she hopes to win. Paying close attention to the opinions and voices of voters across the province is paramount to any politician’s success, and MIREMS makes those voices—otherwise hidden behind language barriers—accessible.
MIREMS is currently monitoring 616 multilingual and multicultural media sources in Ontario, ranging from Windsor’s Arabic Almohajer Al Jadeed, South Asian Saanj News in Caledon and Ottawa’s six Arabic and seven Chinese sources.
A special collection of editorial and opinion stories from these sources over the past month highlight the role of multilingual and multicultural media in this election as well as Ontario politics year-round.
Many reports covered the opinion that voters are leaning towards the NDP the same way they leaned towards the Liberals in the last federal election. The “keep the conservatives out” mentality has certainly moved some voters from Liberal to NDP, but this alone isn’t enough to swing the entire election. As Inacio Natividade wrote for Sol Portugues: “The idea is that given the polarization of the electorate, there’s still an undecided portion in the volatile electorate that could be a surprise factor and give Andrea Horwath a final victory.”
The Canadian Punjabi Post called the rise of the NDP in the polls a “big surprise.” Christo Aivalis writing for the Philippine Canadian Inquirer went further. In his article titled: “How an NDP victory in Ontario is a real possibility” Aivalis comments on the surprising turn of events, with the race now almost neck and neck between Horwath and Ford; a contrast to first thoughts of Wynne and Ford’s race adding: “The momentum is with the NDP.”
Some sources threw their support behind the NDP. A column in Share, a weekly newspaper serving the Black and Caribbean community in the GTA urges readers to give the NDP “genuine consideration.” Noting that Horwath’s platform’s focus on health care, pharma care and childcare “deeply resonate” with many Ontarians, mentioning as well, her party’s complete ban on police street checks. On CIAO 530 AM Morning with Tejinder Sidhu callers chimed in to support the NDP’s position on auto insurance policies.
Other sources shared opinion and editorials that were more critical. Toronto’s Farsi Salam Toronto, a weekly paper weighed in on all three candidates' promises surrounding the price of gas, calling Horwath’s pledge “vague.” And an editorial on 51.ca the online Chinese source out of Toronto says “The New Democratic Party is handing out candy; their candy is sweeter and has nicer packaging than the Liberals'. In the end, however, perhaps voters only get to see the colourful wrappers, but don't actually get to eat the candy.”
Multicultural and multilingual media has also given two NDP candidates a direct line to connect with their voters. Kingsley Kwok was introduced to the readers Chinese source Ming Pao Toronto in an article highlighting candidates in the area. Sandra Lozano, a Salvadoran-Canadian candidate for Vaughan-Woodbridge wrote an article for the Spanish source Correo Canadiense saying she’s proud to be the first Latina woman running in her region finishing with “I believe the NDP is the change that Ontario needs, a positive and energetic change."
Four years ago, during the last provincial election, MIREMS paid close attention to the multilingual media. The Punjabi Post reported in 2014 on Horwath’s campaign launch in the incredibly multilingual and diverse city of Brampton where MIREMS monitors 22 multilingual and multicultural sources. This year, the NDP party leader kicked off her campaign in Hamilton, which has six sources covered by MIREMS consultants.
As the next two weeks unfold, the polls will make their predictions, and news sources across the province will stay on the election trail.
Ensuring that all Ontario voices are accessible is the foundation of MIREMS’ work, and could hold the key to swinging voters and winning seats.
MIREMS 2014 Ontario Election Sample Report
Look back at some stories and headlines from the 2014 election, as told to Ontario's multilingual and multicultural communities.