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Council urged to condemn Maclean’s ‘Asian’ headline

Toronto’s reputation will be “tarnished” if city council doesn’t demand that Maclean’s magazine apologize for a story about universities headlined “Too Asian?”, says the Chinese Canadian National Council.

Toronto’s reputation will be “tarnished” if city council doesn’t demand that Maclean’s magazine apologize for a story about universities headlined “Too Asian?”, says the Chinese Canadian National Council.

Karen Sun, executive director of the council’s Toronto office, made the remark at a press conference at City Hall yesterday in support of a motion from Coun. Mike Layton, seconded by Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam.

“It doesn’t cost the city anything to support this kind of motion to reaffirm its commitment to diversity and inclusion but I do think it will tarnish the city’s reputation if this motion doesn’t pass, as a city that uses ‘Diversity our Strength’ as its motto,” Sun said.

The story, published last month as part of Maclean’s big-selling edition that ranks Canadian universities, suggests some non-Asian students are avoiding schools they consider “Asian” — “so academically focused that some students feel they can no longer compete or have fun.”

Amid criticism that focused heavily on the headline, Maclean’s changed it online to “The enrolment controversy,” ran an editorial saying it is sorry for any offence taken and has agreed, the CCNC says, to run a rebuttal article.

But the group, and others including the Toronto Federation of Chinese Parents, say Maclean’s needs to issue a full, unreserved apology for the story and headline, arguing it continues a stereotype of “perpetual foreigners” stealing school spots from real Canadians.

Layton needs two-thirds of council to support a bid to get his motion — that council “disassociate itself from the views expressed by Maclean’s ... and request that Maclean’s apologize unreservedly for the negative stereotyping of the Asian-Canadian community” — debated.

“It’s personal,” he told the news conference. “This statement and this offensive headline was offensive to my neighbours, to my constituents,” and to the “multi-ethnic” household in which he grew up.

Layton’s stepmother, Trinity-Spadina NDP MP Olivia Chow, has tabled a similar motion in the House of Commons. Vancouver council on Tuesday followed Victoria’s lead in calling on Maclean’s to apologize.

 
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