Archive for April, 2007

That’s Multiculturalism….

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

In a lifetime that’s embraced sixty years in one form of communicating or another, I spent some time in public relations when the keyword was empathy: understanding your public, identifying with it and working to an understanding between communicator and audience.Today it seems most of that thinking has gone by the board. I get a lot of queries as to how pr people can get their stories accepted by ethnocultural media.

Recently a colleague and I met with the staff of a large pr company and in a very productive discussion one of the things we learned was our audience had never looked at an ethnic newspaper, listened to ethnic radio nor looked at ethnic TV. They’d have discovered most of these media are in a language other than English or French and maybe, just maybe, would have appreciated news releases in their language of choice. In any case, why not contact editors and producers and discuss their needs?

The basic fact pr people have to learn is in today’s multicultural society there’s much more to communicating than getting hold of a
mailing list and just firing off press releases.

Global warming feared but…

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

A recent Angus Reid poll has indicated that a majority of Canadians believe global warming is a genuine threat to us all. That it’s the most important issue of the day — one that won’t go away.However, to paraphrase Al Gore this truth really becomes an inconvenience when it comes to making everyday changes that could help combat global warming. Many are reluctant to commit themselves to the fight.

The online poll which questioned 3,500 Canadians revealed that people in Quebec are most concerned about green issues and willing to make changes while oil-rich Albertans are the least environmentally conscious.

Wealthy, educated Canadians are unwilling to give up their gas eating SUVs, long showers and frequent air travel — all of which contribute to climate change. Lowering the thermostat was deemed undesirable, as was driving a hybrid car.

Yet, those who have extra money to burn can afford to make lifestyle changes, like retrofitting their homes.

What does all this add up to, as the problem becomes more and more serious? Unfortunately, if we don’t begin to exercise a degree of self-discipline — Enforcement, which crybabies will lament when it’s too late.

Echoes of McCarthyism

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

The Prime Minister’s recent accusing of the Liberals of supporting the Taliban sent shock waves throughout the entire opposition. What’s more, he refused to apologize.

Those words followed other accusations spewed out recently by Conservative MPs. While we may tend to dismiss them as pre-election gusts of hot air, we mustn’t ignore them There’s a parallel in United States history and we should heed it.

In the 1950s, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, playing on Cold War paranoia in the United States began to find communists everywhere.

What became known as the 1954 Army – McCarthy hearings were finally torpedoed by a gutsy team from the CBS network who dared to speak up while other media feared the uncouth, alcoholic McCarthy.

CBS chair Bill Paley, Producer Fred Friendly and above all newsman Edward R. Murrow stuck their necks out to show what a liar McCarthy was.

What are Canadian media doing about these shameful Tory accusations?

A hero for our times, too

Sunday, April 1st, 2007


(Canscene) — This year, Italy and the rest of us who care, celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the remarkable Giuseppe Garibaldi, son and grandson of merchant sailors , whose own career began at sea.

Although Camillo Cavour and Giuseppe Mazzini played equally significant roles –on the political front — in the unification of Italy, it was Garibaldi who became the public image of the Risorgimento. (more…)

You say “brushetta,” I say “bruschetta”

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — I’m sure by now we all know what a bruschetta — some people still call it a “brushetta” –looks like like. Slices of Italian bread covered in a melange of chopped tomatoes and onions and sometimes cheese — all oven toasted.

Listen to this mind blowing experience. My wife and I had twice visited a restaurant called Nickels but the service and food had been so appalling we decided never to return. Nickels had some affiliation with Celine Dion , but one supposes she was too busy warbling at Vegas to appoint effective management of the Nickels chain.

Not long ago, seeking a light lunch we noticed the establishment’s name had been changed to Vedrina’s, offering food with a Caribbean flavour. Anne ordered a club sandwich, I a Caribbean appetizer plate which I was told wasn’t available So I ordered a bruschetts. (more…)

Book review

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

Gangster Priest by Robert Casillo
U of Toronto Press, 590 pages, $39.95 (paper)
(Canscene)) — Who among film lovers wasn’t happy that Martin Scorsese won an Oscar in his own right last February?


The Academy which had denied Hitchcock and Chaplin Oscars in their own right finally awarded them honorary statuettes, but it wasn’t the same and to millions smacked of an afterthought. We began to think Scorsese was headed for the same treatment.

A few weeks prior to the ceremony, I received Gangster Priest for review. It’s a long book, thick with source notes, by Robert Casillo PhD, professor of English at the University of Miami whose previous books include studies of Italian fascism and Italian stereotypes. (more…)

Where was Cool Britannia?

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — In Hamilton and Toronto recently somebody staged something called a British Isles Show. In Toronto, at a cost of twenty-two dollars for two, I found I’d paid for the privilege of seeing what was little more than a collection of booths selling U.K. made goods. They ranged from Cornish pasties to complete DVD sets of British television comedies like Rumpole of the Bailey.

I’m not arguing about the quality of what was offered. The baked goods we bought and took home, including the pasties, were excellent. But being of partly British heritage, I found little to remind me of it. Where was the cool Britannia that draws millions of visitors every year.? All we got in the way of culture was a succession of Irish, Scottish and Welsh folk dance groups, plus a good pop singer who gave us Matt Munro and Tom Jones numbers.

The show which ran from eleven a.m. to five p.m. seemed to be inhabited with busloads of seniors. I hope they had a better time than we did. The next time I visit the British Isles it will be in person, not through an ersatz experience.


Somebody gets it right

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

(Canscene) –There are two kinds of panini — Italian sandwiches in a conventional bread roll and those served between two slices of foccaccia (made with pizza dough) and grilled. For me the latter are the favoured kind, but as I’ve discovered there are panini and panini.


Susanne Pacher (in turquoise shirt) and friends at Gelato Milano.

Imagine my delight when attending Susanne Pacher’s launch of her book The Beach: My Home from Home. at Gelato Milano, 2156 Queen Street East Toronto to discover the perfect panini. Never overstuffed but grilled to perfection of crispness with a filling that was actually cooked in the process, but not melted into a gooey mess.

And then there are the gelatos – or to be precise gelati. They have to be seen and tasted to be believed!IMG_4271.JPG

And just a sampling of the gelati…

This establishment is run by three young men named Prokos, Altman and Pablevski –scarcely Italian — but with real Italian flair. Steve Prokos who grew up in Little Italy and married a girl Frum Naples didn’t need any convincing about getting into the food service business and soon had his two best friends as partners. And isn’t that what multiculturalism’s all about?

Things to think about before March 2008

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has been diligently commemorated by Canadians since its inception.

But today, I’m forced to ask myself; what total effect has this day had on the nation as a whole?  The United Nations Committee on the  Elimination of Racial Discrimination in a recent report commends us for some of our efforts but finds us wanting in quite a few others. Among them are:

* Concerns that Canada isn’t making sufficient progress in tackling discrimination against aboriginal peoples who continue to face discrimination in employment and are under-represented in government offices and positions.

* A heightened rise of discrimination arising from security measures, although this report was made before the recent Supreme Court decision striking down security certificates.

* Police using a disproportionate amount of force against African Canadians.

And my own pet peeve…….?

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

The use of he term “visible minorities” which can lead to discriminatory implications. Please see below

Let’s let up on this term.
(Canscene) — I’ve often railed against the indiscriminate use of he term “visible Minorities” and now here comes the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which asks us to reflect further on its use.

To me, the term has always suggested a dividing line — pinkish white skins on one side and those of other pigmentation on the other.

When we say by 2017, the population of Toronto will be more than fifty percent visible minorities, we imply they’ll still be minorities which is untrue. The real visible minority will be white!

To me identification by skin colour is just as offensive. Aren’t we sufficiently aware by now of what might be the physical characteristics of a person named, say, Lin Wong or Ravi Gupta or Marcos Alvarez? If not, we should be.

The challenge is now
Immigrants made up the vast majority of the 1.6 million new Canadians between 2001 and 2006, giving the country the highest population growth rate among G8 countries, new census data released last month suggests.

Canada’s population stands at 31,612,897, with a growth rate of 5.4 per cent during that five-year period. That’s up from the four per cent growth rate in the previous census period between 1996 and 2001.

Roughly 1.2 million new immigrants made up the bulk of the population growth outlined in the latest census, while the country’s native-born population increased by 400,000.

That’s why we need to think inclusively: let’s consider also that to some degree we are all minorities and forget all this silliness about visibility in a country as diversified as Canada and one which isn’t going to change. Let’s help the reluctant accept the inevitable and don’t stir up trouble with terms like “visible minorities.”