Anatomy of a Misleading Press Release

Some Twitter followers have asked me to explain my comments regarding a press release that I have described as extremely misleading.

On February 22, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada released a press release titled “Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act Earning Rave Reviews“.  The press release contains quotes from politicians, lawyers, the media, and interest groups.  After reading it, one would reasonably assume that everyone quoted supported Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act.

However, anyone remotely familiar with who some of the people quoted in the press release are will realize that something is amiss.

Lets start with Don Davies, the Opposition Critic for immigration.  Are we really supposed to believe that Mr. Davies supports Bill C-31?  Of course he doesn’t!  It’s basically his job not to!  A quick glance at his website and youtube confirm that he does not support the Bill, so why is he included as someone who is positively raving about Bill C-31?

Next.  Lets turn to some of the press release’s examples of the media “raving” about Bill C-31.

The press release quotes the Globe and Mail as saying:

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s refugee reforms, aimed at making the process more efficient and decisive, are generally good. If implemented, they will improve an unwieldy asylum program.

The legislation rightly focuses on weeding out claimants who are not genuine, and stemming the flow of asylum seekers from countries such as Mexico and Hungary that are democracies with respect for basic rights and freedoms.

Fast-tracking refugee claims from these countries, and ensuring failed claimants are promptly deported, is an excellent way to ensure Canada does not become a magnet for abuse. The bill will also implement biometric identification, such as fingerprints and photos, for people who apply for visitor’s visas. This welcome change will guard against the use of false identities.

 

However, here is what the Globe editorial, which is titled Due Process as important as efficiency in refugee reform (the editorial’s headline is of course omitted from the press release), actually says:

The press release quotes the Toronto Star as saying:

Kenney’s latest reform plan would reduce the current backlog of 42,000 refugee claims; cut the processing time for asylum seekers from “safe countries” to 45 days (from 171 days under Balanced Refugee Reform Act); and save money.

 

The Toronto Star editorial is titled “Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s New Refugee Law Lacks Balance“.  Doesn’t quite seem like a rave review huh?

Now.  Presumably some of the people and institutions quoted in the press release actually like Bill C-31.  Some may even be “raving” about.  However, given the blatant cherry-picking, bordering on misquoting, above, why would I believe that anything in the press release actually reflects the views (as opposed to a snippet) of the people and institutions it quotes?

Bill C-31 contains many provisions which I believe are laudable, and some which I dislike.  At a minimum, it introduces changes to a refugee determination system that badly needs reforms.  However, in making its case for why its solutions are the best way forward, the Conservative Government needs to be seen by the public as having credibility when it presents facts, figures, and arguments.  Given the current scandal that the Conservative Party is facing over alleged voter suppression during the last election this should seem especially obvious.   Unfortunately, pulling stunts like this press release severely diminishes the government’s credibility.

And it makes you wonder, what can we believe?


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