How Canadian media often times looks the other way or excuses racist behaviour.

The moral cowardice of Canadian media is leaving racism unchallenged
Andray Domise: Our cancerous political climate, and all the attendant bigotry that arrived with it, is what happens when the media does nothing

A few weeks ago, Edmonton-based writer and educator Minister Faust asked if I would consider writing about the populist movement coalescing in Alberta, known as the Yellow Vests. I gave it some thought, but decided it was too niche of an issue to pitch my editor. I’ve written about the ideological capture of populist movements by hate groups before, of course. But I rationalized the Yellow Vests as an astroturfed campaign by oil interests which would, much like America’s Tea Party, amount to a brief and self-annihilating costume party for aggrieved white xenophobes.

After the shooting, I exchanged messages with Bashir Mohamed, another Edmonton-based writer, regarding the tendency of Alberta politicians to be photographed or associated with white nationalists. They did so without the prospect of being shamed into resignation by Canadian media. Mohamed was interested in writing a column specifically calling out Kerry Diotte, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Griesbach, and I recommended he broaden the scope to include other politicians, lest the pitch come off as a vendetta column and not cogent political analysis.

In both of these instances, and other conversations I’ve had with writers of colour lately, I did what I promised myself I would never do as a Black writer with a platform, which was to play the role of gatekeeper. I told myself that I was looking for angles that could find a foot through the door of the notoriously white-centred Canadian media. In reality, I had been cowed by hate groups and their enablers in my industry into silence, and I was unconsciously passing on the memo to others.


Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer has also surrendered political principles for the bigot’s vote, presiding over a party willing to virtue-signal anti-immigrant sentiment to supporters whose “Canada First” mantra places them firmly in our country’s white nationalist tradition. There was the empty grandstanding around and misrepresentation of the UN Migration Pact, often reported by media as if the pact were legitimate cause for sovereign concern, with only a nod to the fact that the pact is non-binding. There was also an infamous tweet sent out by the party, meant to stoke further fear and paranoia over asylum-seekers crossing into Canada from the U.S., that just so happened to echo this country’s history of migration pessimism where Black refugees are involved.

Despite this abysmal record, Scheer is given leave to credibly present the Conservatives as a viable governing party that will act in all Canadians’ interests, while retaining the services of staffers who include Georgeanne Burke (who co-founded a political organization which, regardless of its stated purpose, effectively keeps the fear of Sharia in the headlines of right-wing publications) and Hamish Marshall (a former corporate director at Rebel Media). Scheer doesn’t acknowledge the problem of white nationalism in Canada, or within the party ranks, because there is no media pressure on him to do so. Not even when he speaks at the same Ottawa rally promoted and attended by far-right hate groups. That’s simply not the way things are done in this country.

Scheer’s tolerance for subordinates blowing the dog’s whistle is not limited to his office, but has trickled down to regional MPs such as Kerry Diotte, himself a former journalist. In 2017, Diotte tweeted a picture of himself with Faith Goldy, lauding her efforts to “Make the Media Great Again.” The tweet remains on Diotte’s Twitter timeline. When this was called out by Bashir Mohamed as an endorsement of racism, Diotte’s lawyers sent him a letter threatening legal action. Additionally, Diotte filed a lawsuit against The Gateway, a student newspaper at the University of Alberta, which is, to date, the only media organization to pull together his history of dog-whistle politics (which includes tweeting a picture of a “Liberal Buzz Word Bingo card,” including the words “indigenous” and “Syrians,” for which he later apologized).