CORRECTION: SUN Media and SUN News are separate companies, both owned by Quebecor. An earlier version of this story confused the two.
(April 24/14) SUN Media has since contacted me to dispute Septembre’s account of her interview questions- they claim Monique Beech never asked the questions described below. SUN also points out that Monique Beech did in fact respond to my request for comment, to ask for more details before agreeing to an interview. This is correct. So while CANOE.ca failed to respond to my request for comment, Monique did respond, and I dropped the ball on that. I apologize to her for the oversight. -JB
Septembre Anderson, a Toronto journalist, was asked about her political leanings while on a job interview with SUN Media web portal CANOE.ca.
Anderson applied to be CANOE’s front page digital editor. When she arrived for her interview this past February, she immediately saw that Monique Beech, SUN Media’s digital content director, had been researching her online presence.
“She had my Twitter feed and my Tumblr open on her desktop, and she’d been Googling me as well,” recalls Anderson. Such digging is standard in modern hiring, especially in the media business. What Anderson didn’t expect were questions about her politics.
As Anderson recalls, Monique Beech said, “I can see that you’re very left-leaning and you talk a lot about social justice.”
She then recalls being asked: “What makes you think you can work for a right-wing company?'”
Neither CANOE nor Monique Beech responded to CANADALAND’s request for confirmation and comment about the incident. * (see correction above)
Septembre Anderson rolled with it, answering “I’m a journalist, I can put my politics aside”. But the interview left her with a bad taste in her mouth.
“It felt wrong,” she recalls. “I don’t think that was a question that should have been asked. I feel it was inappropriate.” Ultimately, she didn’t get the job, and suspects that her politics might have had something to do with that.
And here’s the shocker: as far as I can tell, if Anderson was rejected because of her political leanings, such discrimination may have been perfectly legal.
Ontario’s Human Rights Code protects workers and job applicants from discrimination or harassment on the basis of their race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.
But political opinions, expressions or affiliations are not explicitly protected in Ontario, as they are in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, Newfoundland & Labrador, NWT, Yukon, B.C., and Manitoba.
It’s been argued that political affiliations should be covered under “creed”, but the Court of Appeal for Ontario has rejected this notion, inasmuch as they’ve ruled that belonging to a political party does not constitute creed. A complete set of political beliefs like Anderson’s, encompassing social justice, economics, and a slew of other issues certainly sounds like a creed, but the courts have yet to take a firm position.
In the meantime, all you crypto-lefties working for SUN and the National Post should take note: you can get sacked for your pinko tweets, so best keep mum.