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Literature!
THE NATIONAL ETHNIC PRESS AND MEDIA COUNCIL OF CANADA 

Working to make Canada a
true community of communities !

by Thomas S. Saras And Mashadi Massood

THE NATIONAL ETHNIC PRESS AND MEDIA COUNCIL OF CANADWriters and poets have always searched for the Canadian identity; almost instinctively, Canadians have tended to say that they are French Canadians or English Canadians or Ukrainian Canadians or whatever, or simply new Canadians. But what is Canada itself? With the charter in place, we can now say that Canada is a society where all people are equal and where they share some fundamental values based upon freedom.Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Memoirs

Classical democratic theory always viewed democracy as a set of institutions, which both promoted and depended upon the full rational development of the individual. For the political observer of the Canadian society it is clear that we are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religions, bound together by a single ideal, the ideal of freedom and equality.

An estimated forty percent of Canadas population, today, stems from a culture other than French or British. Most of the new arrivals are fluent in only one language the language of their country of origin.

They arrive daily in Canada, some for better prospects of a new life and others to escape oppression from the country of their origin, poorly equipped to take an equal place in our society. They knowledge of Canada, in most cases, is non-existent. Our way of life is totally strange to them, our cultural heritage, totally different from their own. For many of them who made the journey in only few hours, the transition and integration will take many, many years. To some of them probably will take a full generation.

In order to overcome the language barriers they face in this new country they turn to the Press or mass Media of their own community in Canada, to seek important information and valuable assistance.

In this context, the ethnic press and media becomes the source of information to newcomers to this Country and helps them adjust in the new society by bringing news about current events to them and in return communicating their concerns to the respective administrations in various levels of government.

It is therefore understood that the ethnic press in Canada performs o unique function within the mass media. 

Generally, its purpose is to inform its readers, in a language more readily understood than Canadas founding languages of French and English.

Furthermore, as we are entering the new millennium, it is more important that the place of every minority group in our democracy not be obscured by ignorance or prejudice. It is also basic principal of the modern democracies and very important for their function that members of every minority group have the ability to discuss and consider together their special problems so that these problems may find expression for the benefit of our broader society. 

Furthermore, it is common knowledge that peoples participation in the public affairs is the underpinning of our political system. However, in order for a democracy to work effectively and efficiently, it requires a knowledgeable population well informed about the affairs of the nation.      

It is, therefore, that in a newspaper published in the language this citizens fully understand, they can find answers to many of their questions.

The small, sometimes poorly printed-paper that is delivered to his community each week attains significance in his life that only few of us have experienced.

The ethnic newspaper must, therefore, provide a service that is not expected of the English language press. To a degree, it becomes a social textbook for the readers.

Every time government legislation is enacted, it is translated and published in every publication; furthermore the editor of the publication makes his comments and explain in detail the provisions of the new legislation.

This work takes special interest when we deal with immigration, pensions, welfare, housing, guaranty income, labour and minimum wages, where a more comprehensive explanation is necessary.

Frequently, readers bringing their legal problems to the attention of the editor.

In some cases we have to accommodate legal aid to them in order to take their causes to court and in others we have to put them in touch with the proper authorities.

The biggest part of the editorial content, of the ethnic press, is devoted to defining political parties, their philosophy and the structure and the institution of the government. The Canadian political culture, social customs, labour laws, bargaining rights, health and hospital coverage.

This are only few of the reasons which make important the role and the dual service  the ethnic press provides to this society, and which it is not appreciated by the political establishment of the Country.

It is great the social responsibility for the publisher and the editor of the ethnic publication since his role comes in short of patient tutoring that frequently provides the basic environment and places the cornerstone for the future citizenship.

This is the way that most of the newcomers to our Country educated politically and they become god citizens.

It is this publication the one which will undertake the task of helping in the creation of public opinion.

As a matter of fact, it seems that the newspapers role in public opinion is to report the issues and viewpoints, then try to guide the reader in the formulation of his opinion.

Mostly the reader is an intelligent person, capable of arriving at a decision once he is in the possession of the facts.

In the case of an ethnic newspaper it may be said that the potential for influencing the readership is greater than the English or French Press.

With your permission I would like to state at this point that there is a number of publications publishing and circulating in Canada and they try to manipulate the public Canadian public opinion of their readership.

Among them are et least four publications of Chinese origin. They are prepared and published outside of our Country by they are republished in Canada caring the message of the Country of origin to Canadian reader.

During the last one hundred years, the ethnic press of Canada, has performed not only the task of helping the integration of newcomers but has also been seriously interested in the development of this Country in a spirit of unity of Canadas population and territory.

Among the objectives of our organization :

To unite, represent, serve and negotiate on behalf of the interests of the members of the ethnic press and electronic media of Canada.

To promote and integrate the economic, social and cultural interests of the ethnic Press, as well as of the multicultural communities of Canada into the mainstream Canadian society.

To encourage unity among its members and the ethnic communities, to promote their social, cultural and political involvement activities, and political participation in the democratic process of Canada.

To promote excellence in journalism among the members of the ethnic press and help them integrate fully into the mainstream society.

To serve as forum for the study and discussion of barriers faced by ethnic groups, the press and the mainstream electronic media and help them integrate fully into the mainstream society.

To gather and disseminate information which will lead to better understanding and cooperation among the various ethnic groups in Canada and the mainstream society.

To promote the economic and social status of the members of the ethnic press as well as the multicultural communities of Canada.

To study and interpret Canadas role in international affairs and its position in relations to all nations dedicated to upholding the ideals of freedom and democracy.

To defend, in a lawful manner, the Charter of Rights and freedoms as part of the Canadian Constitution, and to promote the basic principles of Human Rights as presented by the International Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, by the United Nations.

To promote multiculturalism and to defend the freedoms of all Canadians, the Constitution and the Unity of Canada.

                        
THE NEED FOR SURVIVAL OF THE ETHNIC PRESS: 

Over the last fifty years many scholars, scholarly articles, monographs, M.A and Ph.D. and theses have appeared on the subject of the Canadian ethnic press.

Fifty years later the Ethnic Press of Canada still awaits a comprehensive, sober and objective, analytical study covering historical, social, religious, cultural, demographic, linguistic, literary and political aspects. The challenge would be tremendous, starting with clear terms of reference and a concise definition of the ethnic press and its role.

The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, in its Book IV of the report tried to define the ethnic press as :

The term ethnic press includes all private (I.e. non governmental ) publications designed to appeal to cultural groups other than British or French. These need implementation of the multicultural policy in all its aspects, with particular stress on sharing of the fruits of various ethnic cultures with all Canadians, so that Canada may truly become a multicultural society.

Even though the importance of the ethnic press was recognized by Canadian politicians, those in power as well as those in conflict of interests, seems that never accepted this fact.

This is the reason that the publishers and editors of the ethnic press feel that they have every right to regard themselves, side by side with the English and French language newspapers, as an important tool in forming public opinion.

Their record of always responding most generously to the call when the necessity arises is the best proof of the Loyalty and devotion of those men and women of the ethnic press who have decided to offer their time and talent to help their compatriots to become better Canadians, and so make Canada a better place to live in for all of us.

How many ethnic publications are there in Canada?

Our records indicate that 1999, there were 800 ethnic active publications all over the Country.Today and due to new philosophy of the government of Canada, to the best of our knowledge, there are 35 Publications in British Columbia, another 19 in Alberta, The province of Nova Scotia has only 1 Shalom Atlantic-Jewish Council, Saskatchewan has 2, (Faces and the Holos Institute-Polish), The Province of Quebec has 60 and finally the Province of Ontario 220. Total 337.

Last year this number was 600. Thanks to sponsorship scandals and the decision of the government of Canada to temporarily hold the Ads, half of them came to the point of stop publishing being unable to cope with the financial obligations of the operation, without any financial support by the government of Canada.

Over the years and due to limited access of the members of the Ethnic Press and Media of Canada to Public Works and the agencies responsible for the distribution of the Government ads, a number of agencies appeared in the industry.

There were running by individuals and through they own contacts with members of the Civil Service of Canada they were soliciting government ads from the department. For this service they were charging a fee of 30 to 35 per cent of the total cost of the ad, as a commission for their services. Eventually and over the years they became the godfathers of the industry, as they managed through they own contacts to get more ads for the clients they represented.

With your permission I would like to bring to your attention that recently with the help of the PMO, I had a meeting with the department of Public Works Canada for a discussion of this situation. It proved that the last campaign of Health Canada was given only to the members represented by these agencies.

According to official, effective immediately, nobody has the right to get any amount from the amount of the invoice. My information is that the agencies continue to hold the amount of thirty per sent from any government ad.

This situation is even worst with the distribution of the ads to electronic media, (radio and Television), as the ads are directed to the owner of the station and not to individual producers or directors of the ethnic programming and shows.

As a result, not even a single cent going to help the financially oppressed producer who is asked to run the ad for free.

In the fall of 2003, thanks to help and understanding of the officials of the Canadian Heritage, Department of Magazines publishing, we organized a round table conference in Toronto with the participation of 60 publishers from all over Canada.

At the end of the conference the participant decided and affirmed that:

The necessity of the Ethnic Press of the Country is a vital part for the success of the policies of multiculturalism and the integration of the new Canadians in the Canadian society;

A group insurance should be sought by the Council, to cover the needs of the members and their families;

A retirement fund should be pursued and established in cooperation with the government, in order to cover the needs of the publishers and editors of the Ethnic Press and Media;

Government advertisement should be re-negotiated so that it would really help in establishing worthy publications and put a stop to the usurpation by the various advertising agencies;

The Editorial Assistance Program of the Canadian heritage for Canadian Magazines, should de extended to include qualify ethnic publications, under new set of rules of the new inclusive policies of the Department;

GST on Ethnic publications should be eliminated, as it is with the Canadian periodicals;

Communications Canada should be approached to raise the portion of the Government advertising budget for the ethnic media to 15% from the current less than one per cent; ( From a budget of $ 120.000.000 the ethnic media received last year $ 1.200.000. For the current fiscal year from a budget of $ 67.000.000 the ethnic media received les than $ 400.000 dollars.) 

Publications Assistance Program should be eliminate the provision of 50% subscription of the total circulation, in order an ethnic publication to qualify for the program;

Portion of 20% of the total advertising budget of the Government of Canadas contacts to private sector, must be given to ethnic media, as is the case in the USA.

Negotiations should  start forthwith with schools of Journalism in order to secure the best education for our members.

The ethnic Press and Electronic Media faces the task of making the ethnic communities interested in the Governments goodwill and achieve their active participation. The role of a guide, teacher and interpreter, of which the ethnic editors and producers spoke over 50 years ago, remains unchanged. It should be applied to our present situation.

The ethnic press can be one of the most efficient instruments in the implementation of multiculturalism if the ethnic editors and producers fulfill their mission properly and the Government will deem it expedient.

What always has characterized the ethnic press in general is the high rate of mortality. Since early beginnings on this continent the ethnic periodical has displayed a short life span caused mostly by financial and other reasons which already mentioned.

Some papers appear and disappear unnoticed by bibliographers interested in the ethnic press, and the reason is the unique situation they are facing.

No matter who publishes or edits ethnic newspapers, regardless of their ideology, size, frequency, language, printing technique, graphic appearance, circulation or readership, they all compete in the ethnic market. And this market, unfortunately, is very limited, today more limited than 30 or 50 years ago.

They have to compete today against the ethnic electronic media, radio, T.V, newspapers arriving daily from the old homeland to Canadian markets and the CRTC is licensing national channels to broadcast directly through satellite in Canada.

The Ethnic Press of Canada, in spite of all those setbacks, is still an important factor in the development of the ethno-cultural communities of our Country. 

The ethnic press always responded in a positive way to issues dealing with the further development of Canada and no ethnic newspaper has ever considered that a racial or linguistic background can be in the way of establishing a Canadian identity. It can help considerably in forging Canadian unity. The past performance of the ethnic press warrants this assurance and expectations.

Taking this opportunity I would like to close my remarks Honourable Senators member of the Committee, by appealing to you all for your understanding and help.

On behalf of all the members of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada and the Publishers and Editors and Producers of the Ethnic publications and programs, let me thank you for this rare honour to have our voice heart by your committee.

Thank you.    

saras@patrides.com 
http://www.nepmcc.ca/


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