A Canadian senator is urging the federal government to pull $1.5 million in public funding from Maclean's magazine.
Senator Vivienne Poy of Toronto has sent a letter to Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore, calling the magazine's controversial “Too Asian?” article "offensive material" and a "legitimate reason" to revoke the publication's federal funding.
The November 10 article, since retitled "The Enrollment Controversy", has been described as "offensive and full of stereotypes" by the Chinese Canadian National Council, which has demanded an "unqualified public apology" from Maclean's.
Poy, a former University of Toronto chancellor, points out that the magazine has also garnered complaints that it has exhibited an "anti-Islamic bias".
"It has offended large portions of the Canadian population through its divisive journalism, which is increasingly unprofessional," Poy wrote in her letter. "As such, given Maclean's propensity for speculation, editorializing, and courting controversy merely for the sake of publicity, it should no longer be deemed worthy of public funding by Canadian Heritage."
Poy's letter observes Maclean's receives "substantial funding" from the Department of Canadian Heritage.
The Canada Periodical Fund's list of 2010-11 recipients shows Maclean's is due to receive $1.5 million in funding.
(The only other magazines listed as $1.5-million recipients are Canadian House & Home, Canadian Living, Chatelaine, and Reader's Digest.)
Poy notes that publications that contain "offensive content", such as that "denigrating to an identifiable group", are ineligible for financial assistance from the Canada Periodical Fund.
Maclean's—which is owned by Rogers Publishing, a subsidiary of Rogers Communications—defended its story in a November 25 commentary.
"Some of the comments we have seen on the Internet and in other media have suggested that by publishing this article, Maclean’s views Canadian universities as 'Too Asian,' or that we hold a negative view of Asian students," the magazine stated.
"Nothing could be further from the truth."
In a November 27 commentary on Straight.com, Henry Yu, an associate professor of history at the University of British Columbia, asserted that Maclean's published response to the public outcry was a "nonapologetic nonapology".
You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.