‘Toronto Star’ Editorial Board and Community Reps Meet on Armenian Issues

TORONTO–Representatives of Canada’s Armenian Community met the Toronto Star’s editorial board headed by editorial editor Bob Hepburn–to exchange views on a variety of issues–including the Armenian genocide Canada-Armenia relations–Mountainous Karabagh–and the establishment of a Canadian Embassy in Armenia.

The Armenian delegation included Aris Babikian–president of the Armenian National Federation of Canada (ANFC); Shaen Mirakian–of the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto (ACC); and Vahan Ajemian–Armenian National Committee of Toronto (ANCT).

"In light of recent developmen’s–we had to update and sensitize the Toronto Star editorial board–especially after the April 23–2004 House of Commons resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide," ANFC’s Babikian said–describing the frank and open exchange.

Since the adoption of that resolution–the Armenian National Committee of Canada and the ANFC–and their affiliated chapters in Montreal–Laval–Toronto–Hamilton–Cambridge–St. Catharines–Kitchener–London–Guelph–and Vancouver have routinely contacted the Canadian media asking them to clarify their stance on the ethical issue.

A September 9–2004 meeting between ANCC and ACC members and CTV-TV board–initiated an excellent segment on the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

Following the efforts of ANCC members–the Literary Review of Canada published David Warner’s January 2005 review of Taner Akcam’s book "From Empire to Republic: Turkish Nationalism and the Armenian Genocide." As a follow-up–ANCC facilitated Michael Enright’s CBC Radio "Sunday Morning" interview with Taner Akcam.

On January 14–2004 ANCC successfully secured a resolution from the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada–which represents over 400 newspapers and magazines–recognizing the Armenian genocide.

The ANCC broke the news of the banning of Atom Egoyan’s "Ararat" in Turkey. Immediately afterwards–an explosion of coverage ensued–including editorials in The Globe and Mail and the National Post condemning the Turkish government’s action.

In 2002–renowned Canadian journalist and broadcaster Michael Coren–hosted a unique panel discussion between representatives of the ANCC and Turkish community–who debated the Turkish government’s policy of denying the Armenian genocide. Following the success of that show–Coren invited ANCC representatives to talk about the Armenian genocide on his hour-long CFRB radio program.

More recently–the ANCC disseminated to the media–unknown details of why a conference devoted to the Armenian genocide was "postponed indefinitely," due to pressure from the Turkish government and extremist groups.

The ANCC has also introduced to the Canadian media–writings of progressive Turkish scholars and journalists who–in the past years–have condemned their government’s denialist policies and have called on Turkish leaders to acknowledge the historical reality of the Armenian genocide.

In addition–due to the persistence and behind-the-scenes efforts of ANCC and its members–The Globe and Mail and the National Post now refer to the Armenian genocide without ambiguity–and without quotes–or the prefix "alleged" in their editorials and stories.

"We firmly believe that the media has an important role to educate and bring the truth of the Armenian cause to the Canadian public. With that in mind–the ANCC has–over the years–established an excellent relationship with Canadian media–based on mutual trust and respect," stated ANCC President–Girair Basmadjian. "As in the past–we intend to continue our communication with the Canadian media in an open–objective–and positive manner."

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