If you pass along Marine Drive, you may notice some bus shelter advertisements covered in stickers reading, “Please respect Canada’s Official Languages.”
This is because these ads feature content in the Chinese language, and as a result are stirring up controversy amongst some residents in the area.
Brad Saltzberg, of North Vancouver, is a spokesperson for Putting Canada First. He has vocalized his dismay towards advertising that features languages other than English or French.
According to their website, Putting Canada First is, “a non-profit organization [that aims] to bring about change in the country that puts Canada first.” The group supports policies that push for reduced immigration, sovereignty and the promotion of English and French to be Canada’s official languages on a municipal, provincial and national level.
In April, Putting Canada First targeted the social service agency SUCCESS to remove its Chinese- only ads in Richmond bus shelters.
Although the advertisements along Marine Drive include Chinese writing, they also feature English as well. For Saltzberg this is still a problem, as he believes signage that advertises in other languages compromises Canada’s traditional English and French identity. In an interview with The North Shore News, Saltzberg stated that, “[He has] never believed in multiculturalism for even one minute of [his] life.”
Saltzberg has taken the issue to the West Vancouver council, as he has seen an increase of advertising featuring Chinese in several West Vancouver Bus shelters. He believes that,“if [advertising in the Chinese language] goes on unchecked it will continue to the degree we’re seeing in other business districts and other municipalities whereby No. 3 Road in Richmond, [looks] like Hong Kong. It doesn’t look like Canada.”
The Pattison Group owns the bus shelters in West Vancouver. The company has not yet come out with a statement regarding Saltzberg’s concerns.
However, West Vancouver Mayor, Michael Smith has commented saying that he sees no problem with ads that feature other languages.
Elizabeth Jones, the executive director of the North Shore Multicultural Society, told The North Shore News that negative feelings towards immigration become more prominent in correspondence to advertising featuring other languages. She highlights that “a lot of racism and a lot of feelings about the change that’s taking place in communities is unspoken. When you get signage, it is right there.”
It is evident that the Lower Mainland is becoming increasingly diverse, especially when it comes to the languages being spoken in the area.
A CBC report released in 2012 shows that Punjabi and Chinese were the dominant immigrant languages spoken in Metro Vancouver. The number of residents whose mother tongue was a language other than English or French was reported to be around one million people.
Featured Image: Chinese bus stop via Shutterstock