News British Columbia

Wat’s Chinese-only press conference bad for relations: advocate 0

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

International Trade Minister Teresa Wat during a press conference at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in Richmond, B.C. on Thursday November 21, 2013. Premier Clark and Minister Wat leave on a Jobs and Trade Mission, leading a delegation of over 120 companies to China, Korea and Japan from Nov. 21 to Dec. 3. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

International Trade Minister Teresa Wat during a press conference at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in Richmond, B.C. on Thursday November 21, 2013. Premier Clark and Minister Wat leave on a Jobs and Trade Mission, leading a delegation of over 120 companies to China, Korea and Japan from Nov. 21 to Dec. 3. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

A news conference held Monday by International Trade Minister Teresa Wat that invited only Chinese media and not their English-language counterparts, is a trend to target specific ethnicities and quash popular discussion, according to a community leader.

Wat’s office issued the advisory to the Vancouver press conference Friday to talk about her recent Asian trade mission. On the same day, under her other hat as multiculturalism minister, she released a bulletin announcing six more dates for consultation forums around the language of an anticipated apology to the Chinese community for historical injustices.

Chinese media told 24 hours Monday’s conference was predominantly attended by journalists from that community. The minister was asked about the apology during the event.

Wat’s office said the conference was for Cantonese media and held at their request.

Bill Chu, the Canadians for Reconciliation Society chair, said the minister should be going through the apology process as a representative of B.C. not just the Chinese community.

“Without talking to the mainstream people she came out with this bright idea and just wanted to sell it to the Chinese media alone,” Chu said. “(Non Chinese) are not supposed to be there.”

He said the optics of the situation could give less meaning to any future apology and feared a public backlash.

Mary Chapman, a University of B.C. associate professor of English and political analyst, said while it’s good to have media conferences in other languages it was “unfortunate” English media seemed to have been excluded.

“Not offering an alternative press conference, that’s a bit weird,” she said. “Is the exclusiveness a language exclusion, or is it a political-citizenship exclusion or is it a racial exclusion?”

A spokesman for the minister said he would keep complaints about the conference in mind and “not do that next time.”

 

 

 

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