Media council backs newspapers' handling of criticized anti-diversity op-ed

VANCOUVER — A council that reviews complaints about the news media says the Vancouver Sun and the Province took "strong measures" by apologizing for an anti-diversity op-ed.

The National NewsMedia Council says it has received complaints about the op-ed over the past few days, but its process asks complainants and news organizations to try to resolve any differences at the local level.

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In this case, the council says the decision to remove the op-ed from the newspaper websites and the editor-in-chief's written apology to readers are consistent with the remedies the council would recommend.

It also noted the Sun and the Province published another op-ed that "strongly refutes" the original column.

"The fact that the Vancouver Sun and the Province have taken these steps voluntarily, and in a timely manner is, in our view, a show of good faith in remedying a lapse in the news organization's normal adherence to journalistic standards," the council said in a news release.

Mark Hecht, an instructor of geography at Calgary's Mount Royal University, argued in the column that more diversity means less social trust. He commended Denmark for becoming more restrictive toward immigrants.

"Can Canada learn from Denmark? The jury is out," Hecht wrote. "But the minimum requirement is that we say goodbye to diversity, tolerance and inclusion if we wish to be a society that can rebuild the trust we used to have in one another and start accepting a new norm for immigration policy — compatibility, cohesion and social trust."

The piece was removed from the newspaper websites on Saturday, but not before it was published in print editions.

The news organization was criticized for running an op-ed that some argue may help fuel anti-immigrant sentiment in Canada.

The Sun's editor-in-chief, Harold Munro, said the piece did not meet the paper's journalistic standards.

"The Vancouver Sun is committed to promoting and celebrating diversity, tolerance and inclusion. Our vibrant community and nation are built on these important pillars," Munro wrote.

"We are reviewing our local workflow and editorial processes to ensure greater oversight and accountability so that this does not happen again."

In an email on Monday, Hecht wrote: "I am dismayed by the suppression of open and rational debate in this country."

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