Misinformation, disinformation, gaslighting, all serve to polarize people, to distract and confuse. Now that we are a breath away from the writ dropping, the storm clouds are gathering.

On Friday Sept. 6, The Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province published an opinion piece on their websites titled: "Mark Hecht: Ethnic diversity harms a country's social trust, economic well-being, argues professor."

But Mark Hecht is an instructor, not a professor; a commentator, not an expert. And that’s the least of the problems with his piece. He’s a geography instructor at Calgary’s Mount Royal University. (The newspapers corrected the headline when they published the article in the weekend print edition.)

Hecht was arguing against Canada’s inclusivity: that diversity weakens democracy. To support this claim, he linked to a study from the Gatestone Institute. If that name sounds familiar, you may remember them for the six Islamophobic videos they paid for that were then published in Canada between May and October 2016. The videos asked questions like whether Europe is "doomed by migrants.”

Hecht’s editorial stated that “many western nations assumed that increasing ethnic and cultural diversity through immigration would be beneficial. The dogma of diversity, tolerance and inclusion assumed that all members of the society wanted to be included as equal citizens. Yet, instead of diversity being a blessing, many found that they’ve ended up with a lot of arrogant people living in their countries with no intention of letting go of their previous cultures, animosities, preferences, and pretensions.”

“So, is excluding certain people from one’s society a requirement? The short answer is absolutely,” Hecht writes.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations explains that the Gatestone Institute is far from the “non-partisan, not-for-profit international policy council and think tank, dedicated to educating the public about what the mainstream media fails to report in promoting human rights, institutions of democracy and the rule of law, etc.” it claims to be. The Council adds that Gatestone’s founder, Nina Rosenwald, “is the heiress to the Sears Roebuck fortune, and has used it to further Islamophobia through the William Rosenwald Family Fund.” In fact, a report titled Fear Inc. by the Center for American Progress found that the fund is one of the “top seven contributors to promoting Islamophobia in our (the U.S.) country” and has put forth $2.8 million to “organizations that fan the flames of Islamophobia” since 2000. U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, a hawkish Trump administration appointee, presided over the Institute from 2013 to 2018.

After appearing on the newspaper company’s online portal, the story was announced as taken offline. But readers archived it. Many Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province staff expressed outrage about it, and the outrage gained momentum among readers on social media. Harold Munro, the newspapers’ editor-in-chief, in an apology Saturday evening, promised to find out how it had happened and to review the newspaper’s publication policies.

By then, the article was in the weekend print edition.

In a country with free speech, Mark Hecht certainly has a right to his opinion. But to see this published in a country that prides itself on diversity was still jarring. Canada is an overwhelming rebuttal to the idea that diversity weakens us.

While it was reassuring to see the swift disavowals coming from the newspapers’ staff, the fact that a piece like this could see the light of day begs the question, is this part of a new strategy? Canadaland published a substantial piece last month by Sean Craig detailing a shift in strategy by Postmedia that includes consolidating political coverage. By placing the former editor of the National Post’s op-ed page in charge of political reporting across the newspapers, Postmedia’s senior vice president of content, Lucinda Chodan, said the publication was “fostering Postmedia’s clear and distinctive voice in the Canadian political landscape.”

That editor, Kevin Libin, said he had nothing to do with the op-ed ⁠— and I take him at face value when he says this.

I take Harold Munro at face value, too. He has apologized and I believe him that he’s sorry about it. But someone at Postmedia was responsible — apparently someone senior enough to green-light it for publication. Who was it? And why?

The public is owed an explanation.

Postmedia has a duty of care if they are to be viewed as a responsible news organization.

Editor's note: The story was edited on Sept. 9, 2019 at 12.25 p.m. ET to accurately identify the author of the Canadaland story on Postmedia. It was written by Sean Craig, not Jonathan Goldsbie. It was updated again on Sept. 10, 2019 at 8:24 p.m. ET to correct that the apology was issued late Saturday ET, not Sunday and to clarify that the piece was announced as taken offline early Saturday ET.

Keep reading

How much of this is a problem of the mainstream media's attitude that Op Eds are "just opinion" and it really doesn't matter if they are factual?

Hi William,
It's hard to know what the problem was, and why they published the piece.

Hate is on the move. Hate seeks out the darkness wherever it is to be found. Hate looks for weakness and confusion. Hate can seem reassuring to those that feel lost and alone. Hate reaches out and offers membership in the form of a tribal gathering. Once one absorbs the Cool Aid it's hard to turn back, so the preachers of the hate make efforts to stand on every corner and reach out to all that will listen.
In today's day and age of minimized critical analysis of just about everything that one is exposed to the probability of many responding to the siren call of hate is increased exponentially. So exposing such underhanded efforts is very important. Thanks for this piece and thanks for standing on guard for truth and real information sharing and publishing. Some of the media is unfortunately slipping more and more into the miasma of misinformation and misleading of the public.

I am appalled at the amount of foreign influence beginning to spread through media such as the one behind this article, the Fraser Institute. The Munk Foundation, and others. It seems as if billionaires with money to burn are determined to profit even more greatly by using their wealth to confound us all. I urge the National Ibserver to continue to pull the curtain back from the backers of these stories so that the.falsity of the sWiizard of Oz may stand revealed.

And the Fraser Institute continues to get funding from Koch brothers foundations and funds.

If one were to take a look at the names of many people who spouse anti immigrant policies, they are far removed from ones that might be considered to be 'originally' North American. Perhaps these people should take a look back at their own heritage to see that they are immigrants themselves.

The historical truth is that "immigration" has always been viewed through the lens of invasion, of force majeur, of takeover. That lens was quite accurate in the days before mass transport. During the early stages of human social evolution, wnadering tribes were, indeed, frequently guilty of invading the space another tribe believed was necessary for their survival. Wars, battles, feuds were the almost inevitable results of these existential migrations. Today, despite the inevitabilities of human migration, forced or not, we seem to have lost the reality that our tenure on any given part of the globe is temporary - at least insofar as we think of it as our immutable ancestral home.

Humanity has never, since it descended from the trees, remained static. Survival required adaptability, Adaptability, requires movement. In essence, all of us are the product of human migration (movement). With all due respect to the genocides practiced at times by the invaders/settlers, human migration is built into our DNA.

The only real question remaining is how to make this inevitable human trait, manageable in our modern, over populated, over consuming, apocalyptic times?

The answer does not lie in the myths, lies, and fantasies we tell ourselves about our origins.

Looks like Postmedia is following the FOX template, in which News is news and Opinion is "entertainment" - giving them licence to pander to a specific group.

I am probably just as guilty of "opinion journalism" or whatever you might call it, as Mark is save for the fact(s) that firstly I never read the Post and secondly I always look at the source prior to reading an article. It is probably silly of me but if it is sourced out of Alberta I treat it as entertainment if I read it at all. This is more of an indication of the split between me and Alberta than anything else.