New Canadian Media

 NEW UBC research finds that many online resources for preventing Alzheimer’s disease are problematic and could be steering people in the wrong direction.

In a survey of online articles about preventing Alzheimer’s disease, UBC researchers found many websites offered poor advice and one in five promoted products for sale—a clear conflict of interest. “The quality of […]

 

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in Health
Friday, 02 September 2016 10:27

Free Online Employment Program for Immigrants

It’s very competitive to find jobs in Toronto, let alone for those Brits thinking of coming over to try their luck. Any little helps, basically. CanPrep, offered by JVS Toronto, is a free specialized employment program designed for internationally trained individuals immigrating to Canada to help them quickly connect to a career. The program is […] 

Brits in Toronto

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Published in National

 BY AARON WUDRICK Federal Director Canadian Taxpayers Federation   LAST week, news broke that federal Health Minister Jane Philpott had spent $1,700 on a high-end car service for a single day of driving her around the Toronto area. Her office then revealed there were more in the same vein: a $2,000 bill for a car […]

 

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

Commentary By Herman Thind in Vancouver

A racial slur against a former Vancouver Park Board commissioner with a South Asian background is creating a social media furor.

Meanwhile, a protest group is championing an online petition calling for the firing of British Columbia’s only deputy minister of colour.

To many, these are disturbing signs that racism is on the rise in British Columbia – just one week after the Hands Against Racism campaign launched its second year.

In a recent incident, Niki Sharma, who is running to be a director of the Vancity Credit Union and previously served on the park board, received an offensive tweet saying “you people are taking [o]ver our country.” Meanwhile, a digital map tracking anti-Muslim incidents in Canada shows that British Columbia is on track for 2016 to be twice as bad a year as 2015.

Individuals under attack

Fazil Mihlar is the subject of the online petition campaign. He is a prominent South Asian intellectual with a long track record in public life.

Mihlar, according to his LinkedIn profile, came to the civil service relatively late in his career after many years in charge of the opinion pages of the largest-circulating Canadian newspaper west of Toronto, the Vancouver Sun. Before that he worked for RBC Economics and spent several years with a think tank widely known for its conservative views, the Fraser Institute.

"[T]hese are disturbing signs that racism is on the rise in British Columbia."

Sharma is a lawyer who represents residential school survivors, works closely with First Nation governments and has been connected with many progressive causes. Her affiliation with Vision Vancouver suggests she and Mihlar would not agree on everything. Yet in both cases they are high achievers with visible minority backgrounds and both are under attack for reasons that have nothing to do with their performance.

When Mihlar was appointed to an assistant deputy minister role a couple years ago, his successor as editorial pages editor of Vancouver Sun had this to say: “The smartest guy in the room is now the smartest guy in government.”

Newspaper colleagues of Mihlar say that one of his jobs was to run the newspaper’s editorial board, which is where politicians, business tycoons and policymakers come for their ideas and records to be put to the test. “There were groups who feared coming to an editorial board run by Fazil, because his questions were so tough,” recalls one former colleague. “It didn’t matter who they represented – everyone got the same treatment. On his watch, coming unprepared was not a good option.”

Apparently LeadNow has launched its petition because it thinks that Mihlar’s time with the Fraser Institute should cause him to be stripped of employment as the deputy minister responsible for climate change policy.

There is no sign that LeadNow has any particular policy grievance with Mihlar’s handling of a particular issue, and they are not questioning his competence. They just don’t like him.

To be skewered for being bright is a problem some people might love to have. But is it actually dangerous to have intelligent people leading our civil service and seeking elected positions?

In both incidents, other motives appear to be at work.

One view attributed to him in a speech he gave at the University of Northern B.C. before leaving journalism is that the “ban everything crowd” is quick to critique and oppose B.C.’s resource extraction industries, but slow to provide solid alternatives for economic development. It’s hardly a radical position, even though some people would probably disagree with it. So you have to wonder why LeadNow is hellbent on damaging Mihlar’s character rather than trying to explain why it has a better idea.

[A]ctions like LeadNow’s seem to test our reputation for tolerance.

Impacts on future generations of leaders of colour

Mihlar has origins in Sri Lanka, a country that has had some rough times yet remains a place of rare co-operation. It’s widely known that Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians live there in peace today because of a determination to hear and respect a whole range of viewpoints, however trying that can be at times. Canada thinks of itself highly in this area too, but actions like LeadNow’s seem to test our reputation for tolerance.

In a democracy like India, the world’s largest democracy, a vast range of noisy viewpoints compete for voter attention. This is what many South Asian immigrants are used to. The idea that “winning” a debate by snuffing out the other viewpoint is, quite clearly, foreign to the Indian perspective.

Will these disturbing acts of intolerance drive out the next generation of leaders of colour? Let’s hope not.

Sharma has refused to delete the offensive comment, a decision she explained in this Huffington Post column.

If Mihlar is fired for being “too smart,” that would be a sad statement on who we are as a society. And it will send a clear message to visible minorities that they are not welcome in the upper echelon of leadership.

Only time will tell if the LeadNow people get enough signatures to force the casting aside of Mihlar’s legendary abilities.


Herman Thind is the Principal of Buzz Machine, a social media company based in Vancouver. 

Republished in partnership with Asian Pacific Post.

Published in Commentary
Monday, 15 February 2016 19:02

Online Resources Key to Integrating Refugees

by Florence Hwang in Regina

Integrating new immigrants quickly and seamlessly when they arrive in Canada not only makes their lives easier, but benefits the rest of society. 

For this reason, Garen Direnfeld, a social worker in Dundas, Ontario says that providing refugees and their sponsors with services that allow them to integrate into society is in everyone’s best interest.

“The degree to which we can facilitate one’s transition to Canada and the quicker that transition, the sooner these folks can be productive in a way harmonious with our values. That’s in everyone’s interest,” he says. “So spend that money upfront, and you get a faster payback in the back end.”

After the Liberal government pledged to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada, settlement agencies across the country had to quickly respond to the wave of queries from private sponsors and the general public.

Debbie Douglas, executive director of Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI), knew that her organization needed to supplement its services with something that was both accessible and informative for newcomers and eager volunteers. That something ended up being Welcome Ontarioa site that would provide both volunteers and refugees with all the information they needed in one place.

“We knew that we needed to play an information role because we are often the first point of contact for folks,” says Douglas. 

Resources for refugees and sponsors

OCASI was formed in 1978 to act as a collective voice for immigrant-serving agencies in Ontario, sharing the needs and concerns of newcomer Canadians.

After Canada announced its Syrian refugee plan in November 2015, the organization was inundated with phone calls and email inquiries from folks who wanted to volunteer, donate and even offer offer jobs to the refugees.

"The quicker that transition, the sooner these folks can be productive."

“One of the things we’re trying to do is harness the enthusiasm we were getting from Ontarians and folks from the across the country wanting to do something to help,” Douglas says.

Dave Montague, the OCASI IT and media manager, put together a simple, clean and easy-to-use website to act as a portal specifically for those involved with the Syrian resettlement process.

“What we really wanted to do with this site was — [for] sponsors or people trying to help Syrian refugees — to introduce the settlement sector, if you will, because a lot of them will be new to the whole idea of immigration and settlement,” explains Montague, who has been with the organization for more than 15 years.

He says people may not be aware of all the services, so they put together a database of all the settlement agencies of Ontario. The site also provides information regarding referrals for legal advice, housing, health care and more.

Similar initiatives across the country

OCASI is not the only organization trying to develop resources to help newcomers and refugees integrate.

In Alberta, Immigrant Services Calgary connects new immigrants to services and resources, such as employment agencies, government offices, schools, daycares, libraries, legal aid and therapeutic counselling agencies. 

They also offer an Integrated Mentorship program to help immigrants find unpaid internships in the fields they are interested in working for.

"A lot of them will be new to the whole idea of immigration and settlement."

Meanwhile in Newfoundland, the Association for New Canadians has orientation and integration programs as well as settlement social workers that work with newcomers to adjust and take steps to become established in their new home.

The Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) is yet another program that can help connect new immigrants with services in their respective communities. 

These programs all build on existing networks to make services more accessible to newcomers who might not know where to begin their search.

Coordinating with settlement groups

In order to make the OCASI site useful for resettlement organizations, two additional forums were created for Lifeline Syria, a group in Toronto working with private sponsors, and Refugee 613, an Ottawa group working with private sponsors.

Over the next two years, Lifeline Syria hopes to recruit, train and help sponsor groups to welcome and support 1,000 Syrian refugees coming to Canada as permanent immigrants to resettle in the Greater Toronto Area, according to its website.

Refugee 613 offers ways for citizens to sponsor, donate or volunteer their time or resources for privately sponsored immigrants.

These programs all build on existing networks to make services more accessible to newcomers.

“This is not only what we’re about, but it’s what we can do and what we’ve proven we can do,” wrote John Tory Toronto Mayor on the Lifeline Syria website.

Nevertheless, many settlement agencies have felt overwhelmed by the number of Syrians arriving in the country, making resources like Welcome Ontario and Immigrant Services Calgary, which allow Canadians to learn more about resettlement services on their own, especially useful.

So far, Douglas says that the feedback on the site has been good. 

“Often at meetings, I’ll hear, ‘Oh, we went on your site’ or somebody who used your site they’re thankful because it’s so easy to use and the information was quite relevant,” Douglas notes.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Top Stories
Saturday, 05 December 2015 19:46

Niche, Ethnic Media Struggle to Compete

by Leah Bjornson in Vancouver

When you turn on your TV, answer your cell phone or read an advertisement online, chances are more and more likely that the same company is behind all three services.

By both historical standards and when compared to other countries, there an exceptionally small number of companies in Canada that control the production and distribution of the media, according to a recent study by the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project.

“Our media environment is very badly served by the high levels of concentration we have,” comments Dwayne Winseck, the study author and a professor in the school of journalism and communication at Ottawa’s Carleton University.  

The report, titled “Media and Internet Concentration in Canada”, analyses the trends in media concentration across cable TV, newspapers, online news sources and more between 1984 and 2014.

“Part of a vibrant media environment in any country . . . is having a diversity of voices."

Ben Klass, a PhD student at Carleton who assisted Winseck with his research, echoed his professor’s concerns.

“Part of a vibrant media environment in any country . . . is having a diversity of voices and a diversity of opinions so that the population can be very informed about important social and political issues.”

Space for alternative Canadian news sources

“Canada and its media industry overall is highly concentrated, and this is not unusual,” says Klass. “Where Canada is an outlier is in the extent of vertical integration.”

Vertical integration refers to the cross ownership of companies that control the means of media distribution. As demonstrated by Bell’s re-acquisition of CTV in 2011 and Shaw’s acquisition of Global TV in 2010, the number of companies in control of the sources of distribution is shrinking in Canada.

To contrast, the Internet news sources frequented by Canadians are defined by “astonishingly high” levels of diversity, according to Winseck, both in terms of niche content and the geographic location of the providers.

“You have traditional media outlets kind of [side by side] with some new media outlets and domestic media outlets sitting [beside] foreign media outlets,” explains Winseck.

[There] is a consumer desire for new and niche content, such as targeted blogs and ethnic-based media.

Winseck speculates that this might be a result of a lower cost of entry online, as well as the perceived reliability of sources like The Guardian, BBC and ABC.

“People are looking for trustworthy and credible news sources so they go to sources that they’ve heard of or they already know,” he says.

Paired with this access to international news sources is a consumer desire for new and niche content, such as targeted blogs and ethnic-based media.

While currently these sites receive a minuscule proportion of the available revenues online, Klass suggests that they may be able to attract advertisers looking to reach niche audiences.

“Advertisers don’t seek an undifferentiated, mass audience,” he explains. “They seek an affluent audience or at least one that is going to pay for the goods that are being pedalled.”

Dangers of media concentration

Despite these trends, Winseck cautions against being too optimistic.

“While there is some additional space for sure in the online news space . . . to go from niche to top 20, it still takes a lot of resources,” he says.

"[T]o go from niche to top 20, it still takes a lot of resources.”

Of the countless blogs, websites and sources of news online, two companies – Facebook and Google – take a massive portion of the total advertising revenues. 

“While there’s a large diversity of sources available on the Internet . . . they all sort of exist in a relatively competitive environment,” says Klass.

According to the report, the largest 10 telecom, media and Internet companies accounted for 83.4 per cent of all revenues in 2014.

This is problematic for many reasons Klass explains.

“When you have a small number of very large companies owning a lot of [the media] they also own the way these things are delivered to people . . . and you can see the sort of dangers of these things in action.”

Winseck agrees: “That ugly underbelly is that as newspapers go belly up; you have rich patrons moving in and buying them up. That was the case we saw with [Jeff] Bezos scooping up the Washington Post.”

Expectations for future

Winseck says he expects to see a mixed model in the future of Canadian media.

“We are going to see traditional news organizations like the CBC, like the Globe and Mail, like the BBC retain a solid position at the centre of the news environment, although it’s going to be pared back significantly.”

Winseck hopes to see a potentially more democratic core of news that involves a plurality of voices.

“Flanking these core media we’re going to have the partisan media,” he continues. “Then we’re going to have cooperative news ventures where people are working on a voluntary basis, if you will, to create and share the news.”

Winseck hopes to see less worry about the ongoing “crisis of journalism,” and instead see a potentially more democratic core of news that involves a plurality of voices financed by different support structures.

Klass speculates that the government will encourage this by being more involved in the regulations around media concentration and ownership.

“In order to ensure that we continue to have relatively vibrant media ecology, I think that these issues are going to become more contentious at a political level.”

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Arts & Culture

TORONTO: Aggressive moves by U.S. retailers to win over Canadian online shoppers with perks such as price-matching and free shipping might be just what Canadian stores need to sharpen their e-commerce offerings.

“I think (Canadian) retailers have been complacent — until now. (But) things are changing with the influx of U.S. competition,” says retail analyst Doug Stephens.

“Canadian retailers really have to ask themselves, is it not time to at least get on board and do e-commerce like it’s 1999?”

The Weekly Voice

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Published in Economy

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, on Tuesday, January 6th, announced a new partnership with the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs to launch the Digital Public Square project, an up to $9-million initiative that will increase digital space for free expression and open political dialogue in places where civil society and citizen participation are under threat.

Salam Toronto

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Published in Top Stories

African social marketplace, MoboFree has predicted that that the total volume of items that would be sold on the marketplace by 2015 would be about US$1.5 billion, it also announced...

Afri-culture

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Published in Africa

By TOM GODFREY   Some 100 Caribbean farmworkers were racially profiled when asked to provide DNA samples to OPP officers who were probing a sex assault last year, the head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission says.   C

The Share News

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Published in National
Page 1 of 2

Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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