English-language media outlets were not privy to a “media roundtable” on immigration statistics held last Friday by Minister of Multiculturalism Jason Kenney.
The Conservative Party of Canada minister took to Twitter to announce the roundtable, which he said was “primarily a review” of Chinese immigration statistics.
Kenney said he wasn’t certain who got the roundtable invitation, however, he did state that “mainstream media are never interested in covering” immigration issues.
Ana Curic, a spokesperson for Kenney, said the roundtable was not an official Conservative event, but rather party supporters organized it.
A source for the Richmond News forwarded the media invitation from Conservative supporter and past Burnaby candidate Ronald Leung, who appeared to have organized the roundtable.
Leung — who is thought to be advising the party on the local campaign trail — via his private email account, tells “media friends” that “Jason Kenney would like to share with you” information on immigration policies related to skills, investment and refugee programs at the Continental Seafood Restaurant.
Leung told the News the roundtable was in response to comments made to Chinese media by Liberal candidate John McCallum.
As such, the invitation — which makes no mention of McCallum — to all media was not relevant, said Leung.
Curic said media advisories go out to all media for “official” events.
Kenney took issue with some reporters questioning his Chinese media-only event on Twitter.
“I attended two Chinese community events yesterday for which general advisories (were) issued, but only Chinese-language media showed up, which is par for the course,” wrote Kenney, who then stated that “mainstream” media failed to adequately cover the cancellation of the Immigrant Investor Program (citing opposition from the New Democrats and Liberals was largely unreported).
At the roundtable, most local Chinese media outlets were present. On the same day, Kenney also visited OMNI News BC to speak to Chinese and Punjabi programs. He then visited a Chinese business group, citing its support for his party’s low taxes.
Richmond Centre MP Alice Wong and Steveston-Richmond East candidate Kenny Chiu also joined him at a local Chinese restaurant.
This is not the first time Conservative politicians have excluded English-language media from local events. In 2012, Wong only beckoned Asian media to a seafood restaurant to eat shark fin soup.
Such selective invitations have raised questions as to whether politicians are cherry-picking facts and/or telling the truth. In January 2014, 24 Hours was provided audio from another unpublicized roundtable with Chinese media.
There, according to 24 Hours, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a hand-picked media cohort that Canada had experienced employment growth, despite statistics to the contrary.
At Friday’s roundtable, Kenney presented media with what he called “pro-growth” figures on immigration, citing the Conservatives have allowed higher levels of immigration compared to the Liberals in their most recent first eight years of rule, respectively.
He noted, under the Conservatives since 2006, immigration from China has risen by 22 per cent.
Kenney also noted visitor “super” visas have allowed more grandparents to come to Canada.
And, since 2005, the Conservatives have tripled settlement funding for newcomers (now $925 million in 2014).