“Ten new Canadians are taking their oath right now, here at our Sun News studio here in Toronto.”
We all know now – that’s a load of bull shit.
With its tabloid headlines and vicious (often unfounded) commentary, and let’s not forget some of the most unethical television hosts – Sun News scores another victory. And this time, it’s personal.
The CBC posted an article about the Canadian Press and its Access to Information request:
“Documents released under Access to Information legislation show that just a few weeks before Canada’s Citizenship Week last October,[Immigration Minister Jason] Kenney’s staff directed departmental officials to add a last-minute citizenship ceremony at the network to their list of scheduled events.
Bureaucrats scrambled to work out the logistics, suggesting to the minister’s office that Sun News could cover one of the 13 scheduled ceremonies in Ontario — four of them in Toronto, including one at the Air Canada Centre.”
But even though there were viable options for REAL citizenship ceremonies (you know, because journalists should report on real events), a bureaucrat told Kenney’s office Sun Media only wanted to feature “the oath,”* which would “short-change new Canadians from the full ceremony experience.”
*It should have been at this point when the PR people for Kenney’s office stopped to question their morals. Should we really interfere with new citizens at a time that is so special and important, just for a television spot? Correct answer: no.
So after trying to figure out a way not to ruin the moment for new Canadians, the immigration office decides to have a wonderful “reaffirmation” ceremony at Sun News studio.
Their hopes: even though it’s not their official ceremony, have recent New Canadians reaffirm the oath and be announced as “New Canadians” once more. Now at this point, the ethics line is blurry, but one can (sort of) argue evenly both sides.
BUT as it turns out: staging the ceremony with new citizens is tough stuff – they’re too busy working and probably relieved that the arduous process of citizenship is finally over. (great commentary by the National Post here)
So it’s time to fake it. The Access to Information request found this:
“Let’s do it. We can fake the Oath,” reads an email from a @sunmedia.ca email address, the name blacked out of the document.
Local department staff in Toronto then set out to find 10 new Canadians who would want to restate their oath at the Sun News studios on Oct. 18, calling people who had dealt with the department in the past.
…In the end, only three of the 10 people the department had lined up to appear at the Sun’s studios actually showed up. But the show went on — featuring at least six federal bureaucrats. Three of those who took the oath wore identical T-shirts with a citizenship logo on it.”
I have to stop to take a moment to vomit. Identical T-shirts? It’s a metaphorical slap in the face. Have these immigration bureaucrats ever met the people they are insulting? But wait - there’s more.
The show continued, with Sun Media people tweeting about the 10 new Canadians reaffirming citizenship. The hosts sometimes dropped the word “reaffirmation” altogether; host Alex Pierson said she didn’t know about the bureaucrats. Co-host Pat Bolland even asked them what it felt like to sing the national anthem.
As someone who now shares citizenship as a South African Canadian, I am appalled at how far the media has gone. So much is invested into that ceremony: medical exams, paper work stacked on more paper work, money, tests, time – each time you travel it’s that much longer until you’re a Canadian.
Bet those bureaucrats have never dealt with the frustration of the immigration system; a friend of mine just took her oath after ten years of a paper work nightmare (you could’ve filmed her ceremony).
As a journalist interested in television broadcast, I’ve learned a really important lesson:
[don’t] fake it, because you [won’t] make it.
There are instances in broadcasting where asking someone to repeat an action, so you can capture it, is allowed. But to stage a ceremony on a completely different day, in a studio, and then pretend to care about new Canadians all because it’s PR week for Kenney’s office: disgusting.
The positive from this: there are news organizations out there critical of the media. The Canadian Press did a great job bringing this situation to light, putting in an Access of Information request (not a free endeavour) to bring the truth to Canadians – and those still waiting in line at the Immigration office.
Now that makes me proud to be a Canadian.