By Andres Machalski
As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads down to Washington to meet with President Donald Trump, we at MIREMS decided to scan ethnic media opinions on Trump, Trudeau and what the new US presidency might mean for Canada. As with the mainstream media, the news reporting was overwhelming, so we had to be selective.
What we selected were primarily opinion pieces, and those that reflected social media input. The rise of Twitterocracy as a form of government seems to have led traditional media sources to look to netizen tweets as a form of editorial opinion, at least in some ethnic media circles, replacing the more traditional editorial opinion pieces written by professional journalists. These reactions played extensively in the Chinese social media both in Vancouver and Toronto, on sites such as 51.ca and BCbay.com, and should be troubling news to the Canadian government.
In contrast to what we read in mainstream media, which seemed to be advice as to what the Canadian Prime Minister should or should not do, and the risks and advantages of confrontation with the American President, the multilingual segment of the Canadian social media and its audience seemed inclined to suggest that Canada stick to its knitting, and deal with problems at home rather than on the international scene, leading us to wonder whether Canada has really escaped the wave of protectionist, isolationist and ultra-nationalist feeling that is sweeping developed nations, or is simply a late bloomer. This poses a challenge to Canadian leadership on the 150th anniversary of Canada’s birth as a nation as it struggles to keep our doors and minds open to trade, immigration and multicultural ideals worldwide.
Understandably, the Afro-Canadian media stood out in its concern about the negative impact of Trump’s policies. During Fitzroy Gordon’s three-hour phone in show on G 98.7 FM Grapevine (Toronto, 22/01/2017), listeners shared their views. Many suggested giving Trump a chance. Some felt it was time for a change, but many regretted the end of Obama's administration, saying Obama had represented Black Americans. The Caribbean Camera (19/01/2017) asked six readers if the world would be a safer place with Donald Trump as President. Three of the six answered in the negative, while a fourth said it was difficult to say, especially as Trump has not provided a detailed foreign policy. One reader accused Trump of promoting segregation and discrimination. Another predicted that the United States will become a Third World country with rampant prejudice against non-Whites. One reader, the manager of an auto mechanic shop, does not believe Trump will ‘look out for Canada,’ just for himself.
Caribbean Camera (26/01/2017) contributor Carlton Joseph analyzed US President Donald Trump’s inauguration speech. While Trump is right to argue for the need for great schools, safe neighbourhoods and good jobs, Joseph wonders whether this means the targeting of minority neighbourhoods and ‘stop and frisk policies’ implemented by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. Joseph also approves of Trump’s stated resolve not to impose the American way of life on other countries. Finally, Joseph says the protest marches after Trump’s inauguration show that the US, particularly the women, will not be ‘fooled with lies and empty promises.’
These views are echoed in the Chinese Vancouver paper Today Commercial News (03/02/2017), where Guosang Chen says that US President Donald Trump's inauguration speech is full of lies and promises that will prove very difficult to fulfill.
Reflecting on Donald Trump’s speeches during the presidential campaign and his inaugural address, some callers on CMR FM 101.3 Radio Pakistan (20/01/2017) said that he will definitely attack Islam. This concern was also central to Harjinder Thind’s talk show (Red FM 93.1 Vancouver, 06/02/2017), on which callers discussed whether minority groups in Canada are facing increased racism and hatred in the wake of US President Donald Trump's controversial immigration policies. Callers expressed their opinions of Trump's policies as well as shared their experiences of racism in Canada. A few callers asked why it is always people from Asian and Muslim countries who fall victim to racism and why they are not considered equal to the mainstream population by some. Some defensively said that not all Muslims and other minorities are bad. One caller said that immigrants and refugees from all communities should integrate well into the country to which they are immigrating and should not impose their own cultural beliefs and traditions like the hijab and the turban. Many said that most racism occurs within the community itself.
The Chinese Readers website (23/01/2017) points out that countless people around the world, especially Americans, said they want to immigrate to Canada, and concludes that many U.S. voters don’t like Trump. BCbay.com (Vancouver, 23/01/2017) tells them that Trump taking office is not scary but if they’re willing to move to Canada, they can also achieve their life goals.
The readers on 51.ca (Toronto, 24/01/2017) are not so welcoming, saying Canada's housing prices will continue to rise. Out of seventeen comments, Dragonok’s opinion that Trump’s "America First" policy will only make the US better and better received five likes. Longago’s comment that none of the Hollywood stars followed through with their promise to immigrate to Canada received twelve. In contrast, HeartSutra felt that Canadians will flock to the US in order to stay away from the Liberal Party’s high taxes and high electricity rates.
On Chinese Readers (Vancouver, 23/01/2017) commentators talked about how Canada is a good neighbour to the U.S. Po Mianao asked why Trump would bother Canada, saying there’s basically a trade balance between the US and Canada, and Canada even accepts refugees from the U.S.
This opinion is echoed in Xin Feng’s column in 51.ca (Toronto, 24/01/2017), who says Trump is neither a risk nor crisis for Canada, but a wake-up call for the Canadian government to think about how to grow the economy without depending on Big Brother, to completely get rid of the carbon tax, and safeguard traditional social values. As for Canadians who are protesting against Trump’s presidency, he says, there is no point. They should actually be focusing on Canada’s own issues!
51.ca (Toronto, 24/01/2017) netizens took the debate on US- Canada relations as an opportunity to lambaste the Canadian government. Of seventeen comments, most are negative and aimed at Trudeau. Xi Fengzong said ‘Prime Minister Potato’ (Trudeau) kept his promise to accept Muslim refugees, charge a carbon tax and keep all the promises that would harm the people. HeartSutra said Trudeau is not on the same level as Trump, seeing how Trump just sends his son-in-law to take selfies with Trudeau. “Trivial” remembers that during the elections, Trudeau criticized the Harper government for following the United States closely, but now he’s following the US even more closely than Harper did.
An editorial in the Canadian Punjabi Post Toronto (24/01/2017) asks to what extent Canada is ready to re-define its trade relations with Mexico to save its trade relations with America, suggesting that the Trudeau government has an opportunity to reverse its trade relations with Mexico by taking advantage of America's NAFTA talks.
Focusing more on trade issues, Ramanjit Sidhu on FM 93.1 Punjabi Morning (23/01/2017) says there seems to be a major contradiction between US and Canadian perspectives. While Trump's statements on trade are based on business and do not see climate change as a big issue, Canada talks about protecting the climate. Trump's 'America First' policy is also a challenge that Canada has to deal with.
Italian newspaper Corriere Canadese (24/01/2017) publisher Joe Volpe says that globalization has worked for the Americans thus far, as has the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). However, Volpe says Trump has decided to ‘squeeze’ the US’ main trading partners – Canada and Mexico – in order to send a message to his rivals Europe and especially China.
Fairchild Radio FM 96.1 (23/01/2017) Mandarin commentators and international economic and trade experts Xie Jin and Zhu Xinyan said that pulling out of the TPP does not mean that the United States no longer needs trade relations with the countries involved in the partnership. Will NAFTA be next?
Speaking on CIRV FM 88.9 Mandarin (24/01/2017), Teng Jianqun, a scholar at the China Institute of International Studies, believed that Trump is not against trade. He believes Trump just wants to bargain one-on-one to get the maximum benefits. On Dushi.ca (24/01/2017), American and Canadian trade lawyer Hua Na said that Canada doesn’t need to exaggerate the threat, because Trump did not target Canada during his election campaign.
Writing on Dushi.ca (20/01/2017), Chinese chartered financial planner Yang Fan pointed out that the U.S. has a large trade deficit with Mexico, so it’s not surprising for Trump to get his hands on Mexico first. Trump’s border tax will obviously protect manufacturers within the U.S. and punish importers. Consumer products and automobiles are the primary drivers of the U.S. trade deficit. The writer asked if Americans are willing to work the bitter, dirty, low value-added jobs again.
Punjabi CIAO 530 AM Sarang (Toronto, 25/01/2017) suggested NAFTA is not only about trade, but people and services are also involved in this agreement. Any changes may affect 30,000 jobs. At least 36 American states consider Canada as their largest trading partner. Therefore, it will not be easy to cancel NAFTA. Trump is troubled with Mexico's part of this agreement but he has no problem with Canada. The NAFTA renegotiation is expected to be more about Mexico than Canada.
An editorial in the Hispanic Sin Fronteras News (Surrey, 25/01/2017) points out that in addition to the hike in gas prices, Mexicans were dealing with an increase in energy services prices, a lack of gas supply, growing inflation and depreciation of the peso as a result of the measures proposed by Donald Trump even before he had assumed the US presidency. The Trump phenomenon is another one of the factors that has created a perfect storm for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Trump's continuous comments about the policies that he will implement regarding the Mexican government have caused many difficulties for Peña Nieto as well as a huge fall in the value of the peso.
On CHIN AM 1540 (22/01/2017), Jewish program commentator Mark Adler said Trump will look out for America above everything else and that's the lens by which he will define whatever he does. NAFTA will be re-opened, and Canada has a lot to lose. Harjinder Thind on Red FM 93.1 Punjabi Morning (24/01/2017) said Canada is very concerned about the future of NAFTA, which is responsible for creating thousands of jobs and increasing prosperity in Canada, as the new US president is willing to end the North America Free Trade Agreement.
On BCbay.com (20/01/2017), School of International Studies at Beijing University Dean Jia Qingguo said that Mainland Chinese leaders want to know whether or not Trump’s threats on Twitter were serious. If Trump challenges “One China”, then ties may sever, and military conflict is not impossible.
A Portuguese Correio da Manha editorial says that the United States and Britain have turned their backs on the world and, in contrast, the Chinese president announced at Davos during the World Economic Forum that China will keep its doors open and that it will focus on globalization. “Who would have thought this could happen in the 21st century?” the editorial concludes (Toronto, 24/01/2017).
“Between China and the U.S., which is more reliable?” asks writer Chang An Jian on 51.ca, (25/01/2017). He believes that other countries, especially countries in the Asia-Pacific region, already have an idea. Trump’s “prescription” is shifting from “interfering with others” to “minding your own business.” Another internet user said diplomats are useless for him, since he rules the country using Twitter. Some people are worried he will test out the nuclear button the next day.
U.S.-China issues scholar Diao Daming said Trump is in a rush to get rid of all the arrangements left behind by Obama. Trump wants Americans to see that he’s making changes, because he has been saying that he wants to give power back to the people.
On BCbay.com in Vancouver (24/01/2017), one writer is not sure whether you’d be able to enter the U.S. from now on if you are anti-Trump. Many Chinese people can actually understand this. If you’re entering their country to protest against their leader, then they obviously shouldn’t let you in. There are five comments on this article. Most commentators don’t see anything wrong with what the U.S. custom officers did who refused admission to Canadian protesters. It doesn’t make sense for you to go to someone else’s country to protest against that country’s leader. Echoing false news themes, one of the commentators wrote that there should be a thorough investigation at the border, because most of the terrorists come from Canada. Another commentator agreed with the thorough investigation – “After all, doesn't Canada welcome Muslim refugees and Mexican illegal immigrants?”
An article in the Russian Express weekly (Toronto, 20/01/2017) says that Donald Trump's presidency will be the historical moment of truth, and that great hopes for a government's return to the interests of common people are associated with this presidency. First of all - peace! Ending wars and conflicts: a real fight against terrorists and their employers. Immigration: putting an end to the mass immigration of terrorists and criminals who compromise the existence of civilization. Environment: taking real measures for the protection of the environment. Society: putting an end to gender extremism, taking measures to protect children from sexual abuse and to return to normal moral standards. Democracy: the restoration of civil rights and freedoms violated by totalitarian political correctness. The author concludes by saying that "the global parasites" will do everything to persecute Trump and discourage change, but human nature cannot be infinitely trampled and distorted - the disregard of the interests of common people has gone too far and has become dangerous for everyone.
Not all comments are that favourable to Trump. DuoWei News, quoted on 51.ca (24/01/2017), said U.S. President Trump has been creating “chaos” and this strategy proved to be working for him. Trump will definitely be using this strategy in the future, including in domestic and foreign affairs. In another 51.ca article on Trump's cabinet ministers, Jie Qing Bao (iMarket) said that it appears Trump has moved the entire Wall Street over. “Look at these people: a finance minister with no political experience, a US ambassador to the United Nations with no experience.” Another comment states that Trump has the mindset of a businessman; he keeps his true intentions a secret. This is not only inappropriate in international politics, but it’s also dangerous. If this will be his mindset going forward, then governments in different countries may need to be prepared for the worst.
51.ca (25/01/2017) quotes usqiaobao.com saying Americans can become arrogant again! Trump is admired, because he’s an outstanding businessman. As an outstanding businessman, he dares to talk about anything. Since Trump took office, people’s hearts are racing, because they don’t know what to expect the next day. Trump said that he would “Make America Great Again”. This is too abstract, what exactly does it mean? It means “I get the final say.”
By Andres Machalski