'Minutes of the Monthly Meeting held on February 14, 2011 at Queen’s Park



Thomas S. Saras

Asha Rajak

Muse Kulow

Sara Alimandani

Dumitru Popescu

Teshome Wolfeamanuel

Mohammad-Bagher, Samimi

Hassan Zarehi

Bahram  Bahrani

Ned Blair

Rakhi Prabhakar

Sandeep Prabhakar

Aziz Bhuiyan

Suleyman Guven

Neel Nanda

Iosif Spataru

Maria Viero

Mario Spataru

Mohammad  Tajdolati

Saad Alsafar

Sultan Ali Shunbuli

Khan  Khodar

Dilbag  Puar

Ian Delacourt

Ali Salm

Moorthy Sellathurai

Viara Dimitrova

Ahmad Hotaki

Susana Donan

Irene Kereglidis

Jose Donan

Balmukunda Nepal

Tariq Sardar Nation

John Saraidaris

Srimal Abeyewardene

Ranjit Wicks

Marek J. Goldyn

Maria Cristea-Vieru

Hermie Garcia

Mila Garcia

Johnathan Ahnobil

Emmanuel Ayiku

Raffi Der Boghossian

Pobeda Piskaceva

Bob Ristic

Kevin Wang

Shivamurugan (Thooral Mrg)

Parry Long

Fardad Housh (Mehregon)

Logan Logendralingam



1.      Welcome Remarks by the chair.

2.      Minutes of the previous meeting.

3.      Presentation by Rob Oliphant, M.P. Don Valley West ( Liberal Party Critic for Multiculturalism)

4.      Presidents Report

5.      New Business

6.      Adjournment

Speaker of the Day:

Hon. Robert Oliphant, M.P., Don Valley West

Liberal Party Critic for Multiculturalism



Welcome Remarks by the Chair:


Thomas Saras, chaired the meeting and declared the meeting open. Suleiman Guven moved a motion to approve the agenda. Ahmed Shah Hotaki seconded it. The motion was carried.





Minutes of the previous meeting:

Dr. Khan Khoda moved a motion to approve the minutes of the previous monthly meeting held on January 2011 Dr. Tajdolati seconded it.  The motion was carried.


President’s Report/Discussions:


·         Thomas Saras thanked all the members for attending the meeting.

·         The President read out the financial statement of the organization. He answered specific questions regarding the financial statements making it transparent to all present.

·         A letter from the ministry of revenue stating exemption from HST was distributed to all members present during the meeting. The letter would dispel all doubts when invoices are raised by respective printing houses.

·         President suggested to organize a two day workshop in City Hall dealing with training of application for PAP

·         Thomas Saras interviewed Premiere Dalton McGuinty in February 2011, which will be published in the website.  Copies of the interviews will also be circulated to the members of NEPMCC via email if they wish to publish the interview in their respective publications.

·         Asha Rajak, will be undergoing the Auditor’s training in Ottawa. This will help exclusively the members of NEPMCC to get their publications audited.

·         On our March meeting, we are jointly going to hold our Annual General meeting and bi-annual elections to renew the mandate of the Board of Directors. The newly elected Board of Directors should reflect the diversity of the Council. The members running for office should be committed for the cause by giving his or hers valuable and dedicated time.  All positions are available and open. The only request to the interested candidate is to make sure that they have time and energy to work as per their commitment for the position that they are interested to run for. For the executive positions they must served for at least two years prior to any other office of the board of directors of the organization. Eligibility criteria in for running for any position of NEPMCC were discussed by the President. Members were urged all members to pay membership fees before the start of the annual general meeting.

·         There will be representation from all provinces in the board of directors.

·         By March 7, 2011 a list of selected candidates running for office would be circulated to members.

·         This year NEPMCC is organizing the annual ethnic press festival Exhibition from May 9 – May 16 at City Hall.  If funds are available, besides the Toronto City Hall, we will also move this exhibition to Quebec, B.C. and  Manitoba.

·         President Thomas Saras, mentioned that when we are deciding on an award we are recognizing a publication due to their attendance and for their commitment in supporting the organization by working hard for the cause of the ethnic media and the council.

·         NEPMCC Awards. In October we will organize our Awards ceremony. Effectively from January 1st until 31st of May 2011, members can download nomination form from our website and submit names of members they propose from their community, media or organization who they think are eligible for recognition or to receive the NEPMCC Awards. Forms are available online. For the awards, we are planning to reach various Ministries to sponsor awards for each award recipient and category. This process is open for the submission now. Members were asked to send the completed nomination form to either Dr. Tajdolati or to the office of the President.

·         Effective from the month of September, we are going to start planning second phase of the educational seminar. We are going to hold this seminar in 2012, since there are various processes involved in applying for funds and preparation and we need enough time for the preparation.

·         Canada Day celebration will take place on July 2nd.

·         Annual get-together is slated to take place on December 16, 2011.

·         Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). This year we have requested for space on international pavilion where we can display exhibition of the ethnic press for the eighteen days. Members were urged to ask their local business to sponsor some prizes which is going to be announced through lucky draw for the people who visit our pavilion.

·         Word on the Street. Besides Toronto, this year we are going also to organize this exhibition in Vancouver on the same day with Toronto.

·         Motion:  Irene Keroglidis moved a motion to approve the President’s Report. Suleiman Guven seconded the motion. The motion was carried.






Presentation by Rob Oliphant M.P. Don Valley West:

Thomas Saras introduced M.P. Rob Oliphant to the council and welcomed him to address the floor.


Remarks for the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada

February 14, 2011


Robert Oliphant, M.P., Don Valley West

Liberal Party Critic for Multiculturalism




A 21st Century Multiculturalism


Canadians of all backgrounds are increasingly engaged in a conversation about the challenges and opportunities of multiculturalism in Canada. What has been taken as a given for over forty years in Canada is now coming under important and necessary scrutiny.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel brought this discussion to the fore last fall with her comments that multiculturalism (“multikulti”) in Germany had failed. Pointing to the failure of a number of ethnic groups to integrate into German society, to speak fluent German in their daily and work lives, and to share in the huge success of the German economy, Merkel called for a national discussion on the topic.


This was followed on February 6, with a speech by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, delivered at in Germany, in which he said that Multiculturalism has failed in the U.K. and will be abandoned. French President Sarkozy has followed the European pack with similar statements very recently.


Canadian commentators and interest groups are taking these as an opportunity to talk about the state of multiculturalism in Canada – some with genuine concern about improving the quality of life for all Canadians and others seizing the chance to criticize long-held Canadian values in favour of other, sometimes right-wing or xenophobic agendas.


Shortly before Merkel’s comments, Michael Ignatieff asked me to take on the role of Multiculturalism Critic for the Official Opposition. This has given me a great opportunity to engage in the discussion that includes one of the core values of Canada and of the Liberal Party: that the First Nations and the founding peoples of Canada are constantly being enriched and inspired by those who have come to this country as immigrants seeking a better economic future, by refugees seeking safety and opportunity, and by families seeking to be reunited to share in a better home and community life.


While this core value is still widely held, questions are being asked:


Are all communities integrating appropriately?

Is Canadian citizenship valued for its intrinsic worth or has it become an economic commodity?

Are the Canadian values of human rights, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and justice and equality for all being fully embraced by newcomers?

Is Canada evolving naturally and appropriately as newcomers arrive or is it being radically changed?

Are language skills in English or French being appropriated by newcomers quickly enough and at a high enough level to work as professionals, trades people and entrepreneurs?

Are newer Canadians able to have their foreign education or professional credentials recognized and are they able to get “Canadian experience” to enable them to succeed financially and to contribute to the economy as they want?

And finally, does the Government of Canada recognize that we have a new comparative advantage in international trade by virtue of the fact that we have the languages, cultural knowledge and business contacts in every country that we want to do business with?


These are fair questions and are far too complex for me to address this evening, but they give an entrée into the discussion that is going on in Canada today. Despite these questions which remain, however, suffice it to say that Multiculturalism in Canada in no way resembles “multikulti” in Germany, or the failed so-called “passive tolerance” of divided communities that Prime Minister Cameron speaks of in his recent speech. Canada is a far more mature and well-developed multicultural society.


I offer two stories from some recent travels as a Canadian Member of Parliament. While visiting Copenhagen, I was sitting in a coffee shop, taking a break watching people. A group of Moroccans walked by, obviously comfortable in the city in which they lived. A short time later a group of Turks walked by. Again, they were completely comfortable and obviously not tourists. I thought, “No matter how long they live in Denmark, they will never be truly Danish.”  The same could not be said if they had chosen to move to Canada. In Canada, newcomers have every opportunity to become fully Canadian.


Proof of that came a few months later. I was in Paris with a Canadian delegation of Liberal Members of Parliament. Each delegation was called on stage. The Dutch, frankly, looked Dutch. The British, looked British, and so on. When the Canadian delegation was called up, we too looked decidedly Canadian, but not at all the same. One of us was born in Portugal, one in Argentina, one in France, one in Tanzania and one in Canada; one was Muslim, one a Jew, two were Roman Catholics and one was a Protestant; there was one married woman, one never-married woman, one widow, one married man, and one gay man who is married to a man. Again, I thought, “This is Canada. This is the Liberal Party.” I was proud to be from both. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms lives and breathes meaning into being Canadian.


But there are some worrisome trends even in this great multicultural land.


The Conservative government sees immigration solely through am economic lens. This leads them to favouring temporary foreign workers rather than immigrants who work, contribute and are then eligible for citizenship. The German model of migrant workers hasn’t worked. Why would we start to imitate it?


The German, English and French governments have put few financial resources into settlement services, including language training.  Just before the end of last year, Jason Kenney announced $53 million in cuts to settlement programs across Canada. He attempted to justify this saying it was a re-allocation of funds to newer areas now receiving immigrants, but that was simply not true. Yes, money is moving out of Ontario, but the overall level of funding is down across Canada by $53 million. This is following the federal government holding back some $207 million in settlement funding over the last five years, failing to honour the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement.


The Minister delights in saying that funding is now at a record $600 million for settlement services, but he fails to add that under the Liberal plan, if it had been fully implemented by 2009-2010, funding would have reached $920 million. Mr. Kenney is a massive underachiever when it comes to giving newcomers to Canada a chance to succeed.


More resources in this endeavour, not fewer, are needed and must be viewed as an investment in Canada’s future, not an expense to be endured (or, worse, mismanaged). Multiculturalism is at stake if we don’t put the resources towards ensuring that we can communicate with each other and that we can depend on each other economically, socially and culturally.


Of even greater concern, however, are attitudes of the current government that betray its real understanding of both immigration and multiculturalism. Whether it is capitalizing on fears and misunderstandings about refugee claimants arriving on the shores of British Columbia, responding slowly regarding the protection of human rights for Sikhs in Quebec, or the recent blatant attack on the Muslim community regarding voting procedures, the Harper Conservatives are endangering the social cohesion we have built over the past number of decades under both previous Liberal and Conservative governments.


The Conservative government favours words like “diverse” or “pluralistic” as opposed to “multicultural” knowing that diverse and pluralistic describe a reality that we can all easily see in Canada. We are diverse, obviously. Multiculturalism, however, is more than descriptive. It is a value describing the respect and generosity demanded by our constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  It doesn’t allow the Conservative government or any government to pick and choose from among communities, attempting to divide and conquer.  It demands equal respect for all.


The Harper Conservatives are playing with fire when they engage in community wedge politics. A government is supposed to build bridges between and among communities, not blow them up.


Multiculturalism does have limits. These limits have developed over two generations of learning to live with each other, respect each other, learn from each other and, most importantly, care for each other. We understand the give and take of individual rights as we share public space and live public lives. We understand that accommodation rests primarily in conversation not in the setting of laws aimed at one community over another. We know that our national institutions will evolve as the population changes, but at their core they will remain distinctly Canadian. And critically, we hold that multiculturalism must always incorporate core Canadian values like equality rights and the rule of law and we, as a society, must build a consensus around what it means to be a Canadian.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives have chosen to keep communities apart for partisan advantage - choosing to divide Canadians on lines of race, religion, language or national origin.

The concept of multiculturalism is being questioned around the world, as seen in recent statements by the German Chancellor and the British Prime Minister.  But in Canada, unlike many other countries, our success has been built upon ensuring that Canadians see diversity as a strength and by making sure new Canadians have a path to full citizenship and feel that they can fully participate in Canadian society.

By indulging in a multiculturalism of political wedges, a multiculturalism of pandering, voter targeting and electoral math, we can only shred the soul of true Canadian multiculturalism – the equal respect and equal citizenship that’s written into our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada is multicultural at its core and that is a value that the Liberal Party of Canada will not only defend, but will constantly promote.

Following the Honorable Member of Parliament’s remarks there was question and answer session

Muse Kulew, Bahram Bahrami, Suleiman Guven, Ahmad Shah Hotaki, Srimal Abeyawardene, Blagoja Bob Ristic, Marek J.D. Goldyn  and other members participated in the roundtable discussions.

A wide variety of topics such as

·         Star news article on Canadian policy of multiculturalism has failed.

·         21st Century Multiculturalism. It has to go beyond food, festival and fashion.

·         Review of Multiculturalism and proportionate representation of diverse communities in caucus and in Government.

These and other questions on other issues were candidly answered by the Liberal Multicultural critic. Thomas Saras thanked the Honourable Member of Parliament for his time and gave his take on multiculturalism.


New Members:

The following new members were introduced to the council

Sandeep Prabhakar – Asian Connections (South Asian Weekly)

Rakhee Prabhakar   - Asian Connections  ( South Asian Weekly)

The President hoped that they would be active participants in the council.                              

 Adjournment: Suleiman Guven moved a motion to adjourn the meeting, Srimal Abeyawardene seconded it. The motion was carried. The chair adjourned the meeting at 10:30 pm. The next meeting would take place on March 14, 2011.


The minutes prepared by Neel Nanda, Secretary General of the organization and approved for distribution to the members.