By RON FANFAIR
The federal government pays close attention to what the ethnic media is reporting in print and on the air.
Federal Minister Jason Kenney says one of the first things he does every morning on work days is read the ethnic media summary where most of the media outlets represented at the recent National Ethnic press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC) three-day development training seminar are tracked.
“Many of the things our government has done and delivered for cultural communities have been done because we have been listening to the debate and news unfolding in your newspapers, TV programs and magazines,” Kenney told delegates, including Share’s founding publisher, Arnold Auguste. “Things that come out through your outlets, but are not on the radar screen of the mainstream media, have informed government policy and changed Canadian history. That is happening on many fronts and you are being listened to.”
Kenney said that it was because of the ethnic media and what was reported in the Chinese press that Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology in June 2006 for the use of a head tax and the exclusion of Chinese immigrants to Canada.
Canada passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1923, effectively preventing Chinese immigration to this country for nearly a quarter century. As part of the apology and redress, the Conservative government decided to compensate the surviving head tax payers and surviving spouses of head tax payers.
“The mainstream media did not acknowledge the longstanding sense of concern and shame felt by many Chinese Canadians because of the head tax and exclusion act,” said Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. “Because we were watching and reading what was being said, we realized this was an important issue.”
Kenney thanked the media executives – the majority of them immigrants – for keeping new Canadians in touch with news developments in their countries of origin and also news in Canada that relate to them.
“For our government, immigration isn’t just about welcoming people to Canada,” he said. “It’s about making sure that their Canadian experience is a successful one and one that they are able to contribute to the full capacity of their abilities, talents, education and work ethic.”
Canada is on pace to receive 250,000 new permanent residents this year which is about the same as last year. Close to a quarter million temporary residents, excluding visitors and tourists, also came here last year.
“That is an amazing reflection of Canada’s generosity,” said Kenney. “And what is really more remarkable is that in most other Western developed democracies, there are strong political currents against immigration and diversity. But there is hardly any political voice in Canada to reduce immigration.”
Harper also attended the seminar and presented awards to several ethno-cultural media executives including Auguste.