Exclusivity of BC NDP ethnic press conferences draws concern
Prime Minister Stephen Harper took flak earlier this week for a press conference inviting only ethnic media, and now the BC NDP is hosting a similar event. BC NDP MLA Bruce Ralston (left), Leader Adrian Dix (centre) and Jenny Kwan (right) at a press conference in Vancouver, B.C. on Wednesday January 8, 2014. B.C. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
The BC NDP is the latest political party holding an ethnic-media-only event as on Monday it will host members of the local Chinese press at a Richmond luncheon.
In an invite sent to Chinese media, Opposition Leader Adrian Dix invited outlets to a meal celebrating the Lunar New Year.
A communications officer for the party said the event was meant for Chinese media only and explained, by definition, this means a newsroom where the majority of people speak Chinese.
She said an invitation would be extended to 24 hours if asked and described it as a social event, not a media conference, and usually a formal question period is not involved.
The phone call was followed by an email to 24 hours, encouraging this newspaper to attend with “many questions” and to expect a lot of answers.
While ethnic media events are nothing new there is increasing concern from media and the public alike about their purpose. The general feeling among English-language media is that ethnic media don’t ask hard questions and are hence preferred by politicians.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper held an ethnic roundtable during his visit to Vancouver earlier this month and accepted questions from reporters, something the English- and French-language press were not allowed to do at an event earlier in the day.
Harper’s meeting with the local ethnic media appeared hidden as there was no mention of it on his website or that of other MPs who attended.
Late last year, the BC Liberals also held an ethnic media press conference without inviting the English-language press.
Months prior to the 2013 provincial election a major scandal broke in B.C. relating to a plan to gain support in ethnic communities, highlighting how desirable the growing demographic is to politicians.