I Read The News Today, Oh Boy . . .
The recent news that Postmedia had purchased the Sun Media chain certainly raised a few eyebrows, not least my own. Media commentators were quick to ask some obvious questions: Is this the print media’s last stand? A survival strategy? Will shrinking newsrooms result in a lack of diversity and poorer content? Can independent media in Vancouver, for example, truly thrive if three of the four dailies are owned by the same company?
But one question came to my mind immediately: Will this purchase change the editorial stance of the Sun Media titles? We live in hope.
When it comes to immigration, Canadian media organisations, much like the Canadian people, generally follow a progressive, open-minded and nuanced line of thinking. Canada is known around the world as a country with a broad immigration policy, which is reflected in our ethnic diversity, sustained peace in our land, and economic security. Canada is, quite frankly, one of the most successful nations in history — and immigration has had a huge part to play in that.
If, however, Sun Media newspapers were your predominant, or indeed only, source of news on immigration to Canada, you would be left with the impression that Canada plays host to thousands upon thousands of immigrants for whom the only goal is to take welfare, then sponsor family members to join them in Canada and do likewise. You would be led to believe that the average immigrant is a scrounger, out to take the ordinary taxpaying Canadian for a ride. This is, at the very least, disingenuous and reactionary. At its worst, it is dangerous. Sun Media’s views on immigration lie somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun.
Take, for example, a news article published in the Vancouver Sun just last week. The article states that median employment earnings for men in B.C. have plummeted by a third since 1976, and that, according to economists, immigration is one of the principal reasons for this. But there is not a single direct quote from any economist to back up this claim.
A reader of the news sections of Sun Media publications could be forgiven for not noticing that lead statements such as that in the Vancouver Sun article are not backed up, but the mask truly slips when it comes to the Op-Ed sections.
In a Toronto Sun article titled ‘Work? Why Bother!’ published on October 5, 2014, columnist Ezra Levant says that Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program is “Canada’s answer to illegal Mexican immigration in the U.S.” He then goes on to discuss the issue of Mexicans in the U.S. for the next four paragraphs. This is not just the very definition of a straw man argument; it also insidiously implies that temporary foreign workers have committed some sort of offence just by their very presence in Canada. It scapegoats people who have not carried out any crime.
Furthermore, an article by Salim Mansur published in the Toronto Sun in January, 2012, essentially says that immigration leads to acts of terrorism. Mansur cites the infamous “rivers of blood” speech given by British MP Enoch Powell in 1968, in which he urged Britain to significantly curb the number of immigrants it allows into the country. That speech referred to Powell’s conversation with a constituent who stated that “In this country in 15 or 20 years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.” Powell, expecting that his audience would fear such a scenario, made the claim that allowing visible minorities to immigrate is “like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre.”
And yet, the revisionist Sun Media Op-Ed pages are willing to reference Powell’s words as a vision for Canada. Indeed, Mansur says that “four decades later [after Powell’s speech], especially in the aftermath of the July 2005 suicide bombings in London and concerns over ‘homegrown terrorism’ many now view Powell’s Birmingham speech as prophetic,” drawing a direct line from immigration to terrorism. Canadians don’t fall for this kind of hysterical coverage.
I could go on and give other examples, but that could take me until Christmas. Postmedia, mainly through its National Post newspaper, has typically offered a more balanced editorial stance on matters concerning immigration. Let us hope this rubs off on their new acquisition.