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  • Andrea Lee

Canada Needs a Life-Changing Vision

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

What if the media does not fulfill their role? What happens?


Andrea Lee

VNA Canada/USA Media & Publishing

June 21, 2021



Canada consistently keeps finding itself on the amoral side of international human rights issues as of late. Human right abuses indirectly affect us all via various runoff factors, so ensuring that we remain on the correct side of history is a vital one, especially as a purported world leader in such matters.


The UN held their 47th Human Rights Council Session recently. Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner, announced at the opening that "To recover from the most wide-reaching and severe cascade of human rights setbacks in our lifetimes, we need a life-changing vision, and concerted action.”


What sort of action? What avenues are available for utilization?


One approach that anyone can employ, and which has an impact, is simply awareness. Information. A cause that is not known, not advocated for, is not one that will be fought for. It is a lost cause. It is the media’s purpose to fulfill this role: to act in a fair and responsible fashion, as that of the public informant.


But what if the media does not fulfill their role? What happens when it ceases to do its duty?


Coinciding with this cascade of human rights setbacks, I conclude that we have also seen a sort of backsliding on our international rights stance by our federal Liberal government, and by extension factions of our media, right here in Canada, on positions that we once held firm and righteously.


We’ve seen it in subtle ways.


Certain outlets refused to give airtime to Green Party leader Annamie Paul after she stated that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a pattern of “undermining strong women, capable women at the height of their careers,” and of “pushing, strong, competent, capable women out of politics.”


Is a full-on character assault launched against our Prime Minister not newsworthy? A Green Party member who had displayed anti-Semitic sentiments was headhunted and floor-crossed to join the Liberal Party of Canada. Paul responded by opening fire on the Liberals. Keep in mind, Annamie is a black woman, and Jewish. This bombardment was the news story of the day, but for some reason it barely registered on some network’s radars.


We saw similar unilateral reporting from the usual suspects during the Israel-Palestine conflict in Gaza. One would almost have thought that Israel had no right to defend itself against a terrorist organization, Hamas, whose very electoral platform consisted of the extermination of Jewish people and the destruction of the country. Many media figures aligned on the wrong side of this battle. They aligned with genocide.


And then, insidiously, we’ve seen it in not-so-subtle ways.


Chief Political Correspondent for CBC, Rosemary Barton, recently hosted the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, on her live show, in light of a recent mass murder and terrorist attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario. To say this was an abhorrent and morally vacuous stunt is an understatement. The show’s topic revolved around the need for censorship for the noble cause of restricting and controlling hate.


You can create a demand for anything, if you push a narrative rigorously enough. Even a demand for something that will restrict individual freedoms, which is a rights abuse in and of itself. We, in Canada, are aiming to create a demand for censorship Bill C-10, and our national broadcaster is using a most suspect character to do so.


Pakistan is a virtual war zone for journalists. They face threats, censorship, detention, assault, and even murder, from both armed extremist militant groups and government forces. It is one of the most heavily censored countries in the world, so much so that the voices of media are muted there due to self-censorship in the name of self-preservation. There have been 33 journalists murdered in Pakistan in the last six years, at least that we are aware of.


After this mockery of an interview with Imran Khan, one such brave individual contacted me to help bring awareness- to use one of the minuscule yet mighty pathways available to us to do our part regarding human rights.


In a separate interview conducted by Axios, Imran Khan stated that “If you raise temptation in society to the point, and all these young guys have no where to go, it has consequences.”


This was an outright shaming of women, whilst simultaneously blaming them for the sexual violence committed against them in Pakistan (of which there is a disturbing proportion of), by their own Prime Minister. Pakistan is ranked as the third most dangerous country in the world for females. And here in Canada, la-la land of the social justice seeking feminists, CBC’s chief correspondent places him upon a pedestal of virtue.


Let’s look at some of the stories sent to me from Pakistan, and we can see those “consequences” up close. The bulk of these atrocities are committed against Christian or Hindu women and girls, who are coerced to convert to Islam under threat of rape, or worse, death.


· Two sisters, 28-year-old Sajida and 26-year-old Abida, both married with children, were kidnapped, raped and murdered because they refused to convert and wed their kidnappers. Their bodies were found in a sewer. One of the murderers, Mohammad Naeem, has been arrested, confessed and is now free on bail. The other is at large.

· Arzoo Masih, 13-years-old, was kidnapped and forced to marry her Muslim abductor. Her captor too was released on bail. The 44-year-old Muslim man claims he has not violated Pakistan’s laws on statutory rape, because Arzoo has reached puberty.

· Farah Shaheen, a 12-year-old girl, was taken from her home last summer, shackled, raped, and forced to convert to Islam and to marry her kidnapper, a 45 year old man.

· Huma Younus, age 14, was kidnapped from her home, converted, raped, impregnated, and married to her abductor. She is purportedly kept confined to one room in her oppressor’s house.

· Maria Shahbaz, also 14-years-old, abducted by a Muslim man, was drugged, raped, and married off to her captor, then fled and went into hiding with her family after a court ordered her to return to her kidnapper.


This is just a small sample of the obscenities Christians and Hindus face in Pakistan. One human rights organization suggests that approximately 1000 such cases happen every year. Another pegs that number closer to 2000. My correspondent thinks it is much higher than either of those estimates, which is a sobering thought.


Sharia law allows the courts to circumvent statutory rape laws in favor of Islamic men, and to rule that these “marriages” are valid because the girls, these children, have had their first menstrual cycles. The children are removed from their families and often never see them again.


Barbaric. Heartrending.


Is this not a genocide of sorts? And, should we be allowing ourselves to be scolded and chastised on human rights by Imran Khan, and have him platformed and championed by our Canadian national broadcaster?


Now, I am not for conversion therapy, and we have a bill on the table here in Canada, Bill C-6, which outlaws conversion therapy for the LGBTQ community. This is a good thing. But imagine, just imagine, supporting this bill and then having the hypocritical audacity to host the Prime Minister of a country where resistance to a form of “conversion therapy”, conversion to Islam, could result in a death sentence? How stunned does one have to be?


Another part of the Axios Khan interview posed a question on the persecution of Uyghurs in China, and why he was fixated on Western society’s one-sided obsession with Islamophobia, as opposed to what was happening on the other side of his border and closer to home. When pressed about the repression and detention of the Uyghurs, and whether it was a “grotesque human rights atrocity”, Khan said simply “Firstly, I’m not sure about that.”


Sound familiar, Canada? The odd and extreme reluctance by our federal Liberal government to recognize the oppression and genocide of the Uyghurs, and the relative silence of divisions of our media to call this disturbing behaviour out, is just another prime example of how far we have fallen from grace.


We keep doing this. Tiptoeing around the difficult issues, repeatedly, but we are in excellent company. World class, in fact.


The UN Human Rights Council released their itemized agenda and only one nation was on the list for discussion: the human rights situation in Palestine, which translates to an undercover stealth attack on Israel. And while abuses in China, Russia, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Belarus were mentioned by name on the opening day, may I ask where is the UN voice for the people of Pakistan? What will it take to see concrete action from the international community, and to recognize the crimes being committed against Christians, Hindus and other religious minorities?


How many thousands of little girls need to become lost causes?


Claims have been made that these girls, after having reached a certain age, are either killed or divorced, resulting in public shame and disgrace. Helpless, if they survive, they are then forced into a life of prostitution, as society turns its collective back on the true victims of these coerced unions. The men remarry, and the cycle continues.


This is the utter perversion of a religion by extremism. We need to be able to discuss issues like these reasonably without the label of “Islamophobia” coming into play. Until we stop pussyfooting, these practices continue. There will be no voice for those in need if we muffle ourselves in favour of political correctness.


Realizing you have inherent bias is a building block towards achieving self-awareness. We all have it, myself included, and understanding that is making a leap towards reaching objectivity. Our media bias on many levels in Canada has become so extreme however that we are utterly lacking in credibility at this point. We are no longer the defenders of subordination. We trip over our own feet to appear fair and unprejudiced, yet flounder on facts.


If we wish to claim that we are feminists, with a feminist government, in a feminist country, as Liberal Chrystia Freeland suggested in response to Annamie Paul’s well-orchestrated takedown, I suggest we start conducting ourselves as such first and foremostly here at home. If our media continues to preach what they refuse to practice, they then by all means deserve to be defunded. They have lost their right to act as public informants. If Canada is to reclaim its political prowess both in house and on the international human rights stage, and speak once again for the people, we need a life-changing vision.



Addendum:

After this was completed, CBC’s Natasha Fatah began reporting on the tragedies befalling the minorities in Pakistan. A most welcome influential media boost in recognition of the lost girls and suffering families of Pakistan. Awareness. A small but essential step in the right direction. There is still good to be found in our national broadcaster. Perhaps defunding is not the answer, but a change of leadership and direction is.

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