Ethnic media dominated jubilee honours
Stephen Harper. (Postmedia)
At least 11 people working for ethnic media outlets in the Lower Mainland received Diamond Jubilee medals —nearly all from politicians — compared to three known members of English media outlets.
Organizations, MPs and MLAs were to distribute them to people they felt deserved recognition for community work or excellence in a given field. The medals were named for Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th year on the throne in 2012.
Five of the medals went to people working at the same Chinese-language radio station in Richmond, and were awarded by three Conservative MPs, SUCCESS and a BC Liberal MLA.
Also on the list is former AM 1320 CEO turned Liberal MLA Teresa Wat, and Radio India’s Maninder Gill, whose decoration by New Democrat MP Jinny Sims sparked controversy last year because Gill was facing criminal charges.
English media receiving the medals were Tyee writer Tom Sandborn, Vancouver Sun writer Barbara Yaffe and former Vancouver Sun editor Fazil Mihlar.
Nationally, members of the English media found to have received the medals include Peter Mansbridge, retired anchor Lloyd Robertson and media mogul David Black.
Weeks ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper came under fire for a secret press conference Jan. 6 in Vancouver to which only selected ethnic media were invited.
Audio of the event revealed Harper’s scathing criticism of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
The story has called into question how politicians are courting ethnic media and what they are telling them in the absence of English and French media.
Thomas Saras of the Toronto-based Ethnic Media Press Council of Canada said he was offered two medals, one each from federal Liberal and NDP MPs, but didn’t accept in the interest of integrity.
Saras pointed out there is an unfair assumption ethnic media is merely printing propaganda for political parties.
He has helped organize ethnic roundtables in the past and said the government takes into consideration the circulation of publications and asks for an issue of the paper when considering invitations.
“They are asking the publisher of the paper to submit one copy to a specific person who reads in the main language of the publication,” Saras said. “And then this person submits to the head office a list of the content of that paper, with the articles and then this list goes to various ministries.”
One ethnic media outlet told 24 hours the topics raised by media at the Harper event in Vancouver were pre-submitted before the conference.
Last week, members of the English media crashed an ethnic press conference held by British Columbia Premier Christy Clark.
Clark’s communication’s director said the premier was unlikely to stop the practice.