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By MIREMS Editor-in-Chief Silke Reichrath
In the current electoral context, ethnic media have a two-fold role of reflecting national political messages to diverse multilingual audiences – as illustrated in our previous blog [http://www.mirems.com/mirems-blog/ethnic-media-shine-spotlight-on-electoral-uncertainty-for-trudeau] - and of illuminating local political dynamics within these multilingual segments of the population. This includes coverage of election issues relevant to the audience, like immigration, anti-racism policies and Canada’s relationship to the respective homeland, and the participation of candidates across the political spectrum from the respective ethno-cultural group.
Candidates running from an ethnic group capture significant attention in the multilingual and ethnic media and are often seen as representing not just the local riding and the party, but also the ethno-cultural group of their ancestry.
MIREMS captured about 80 stories featuring local candidates. Initially they focused on criticism of Vancouver Granville Liberal candidate Taleeb Noormohamed over his history of house flipping and of Kitchener Centre Liberal candidate Raj Saini over inappropriate conduct towards female staffers. Then over the last week to ten days of the campaign, a lot of ethnic media outlets ran interviews or features on candidates from their ethnic group as well as comparative reviews of the candidates in certain ridings, particularly in Brampton.
OMNI Punjabi ran overviews of each Brampton riding on successive days. On September 13, commentators on 1350 AM Ramz Punjabi felt that Liberal candidates have high chances to win in all five Brampton ridings and that the Conservatives have said that Brampton is not on their wish list. Portuguese media focused on the race in York South-Weston, while Filipino media focused on the Little Manila riding of York Centre.
In addition to covering ethnic candidates and races in multi-ethnic ridings, several ethnic media contributions showed an active concern for political participation among their group, including encouraging people to vote so that their voices may be heard and worrying about representation of their ethnic group by candidates from that group.
On September 14, OMNI Filipino featured a virtual meet-and-greet of Justin Trudeau with four Filipino-Canadian candidates. Oxford County candidate Elizabeth Quinto is running because she wants not only Oxford County, but also the 900,000 strong Filipino community to have a voice in Ottawa as it has been two decades since Filipinos have been represented. On September 9, Toronto-based Spanish newspaper Correo Canadiense featured Hispanic Liberal candidate Pablo Rodríguez and NDP candidate Matías de Dovitiis. Both pointed to a need for Latinos to be more active in Canada’s political life and to be represented - the Hispanic community is very big, but it has no political representation.
Meanwhile, on September 16, two Chinese websites from Vancouver, Vansky and Van People, both ran articles showing concern for a decline in the number of Chinese candidates, following an analysis in Ottawa’s CFC NEWS on August 27. There are currently 17 Chinese candidates, compared to 40 candidates in 2019, 25 in 2015 and 23 in 2011.
Ding Guo, a political commentator in Metro Vancouver, believes that there are fewer Chinese candidates because Chinese candidates are “a little unacceptable”. He explained that this is due to the pressure of racial discrimination caused by the pandemic and the unprecedented state of Canada-China relations. The Chinese Communist Party has become a common opponent of Western countries, making Chinese candidates feel that they cannot “move up” in the party. In addition, Chinese media and the Voices of Overseas Chinese had difficulties getting candidates to attend their proposed all-party forums in the Vancouver area, according to Van People.
Broadcasting from Oakville, Ont., CJMR Punjab Di Goonj reported on September 9 that a total of 47 Punjabis are contesting the election, which is similar to the 2019 elections. Nevertheless, there was some concern about high-profile Punjabis retiring from politics or not winning nominations because the Punjabi vote was split among multiple candidates at the nomination stage, according to Toronto’s Punjabi newspaper Hamdard Weekly.
A Canadian Press analysis found at least 77 indigenous candidates this year, compared with 62 in 2019. Operation Black Vote Canada has reported a slight increase in the number of Black candidates to 60. In 2019, there were reportedly 45 Black candidates, but only five were elected, as reported by Jeremiah Rodriguez on CTV News1 on September 2.
Election day will show how many of these candidates were in winnable ridings and which ethnic groups will garner representation in the House of Commons. Regardless of the outcome, the ethnic media can be counted on to provide insights into the microcosm of diverse ridings and constituencies, as well as into the specific issues of concern for minority groups.