EDITOR’S NOTE: On June 29th the Georgia Straight published this piece by Latino activist, Mainlander contributor, and COPE Executive Richard Marquez. However, after receiving a call from Howard Blank, Vice-President of the Great Canadian Gaming Corp., the Straight‘s editor decided to pull the piece shortly after posting it.
The Straight gave two reasons for their hasty decision: firstly, that Marquez didn’t interview Blank directly, secondly, that he failed to give quotes from workers at the Hastings Race Course. According to this troubling view of what constitutes a publishable piece of journalism, writings under the heading ‘news commentary’ must now take the form of exclusively-verifiable data, micro-managed by popular media’s ongoing loss of social critique, analysis and anything that cannot be reduced to either a fact or a soundbite. In this case, the expectation that journalists can freely gather information from precarious migrant workers is especially naive given that those who speak out are currently being blacklisted by their employers and denied re-entry visas to Canada.
The Mainlander is publishing Marquez’s censored article as a continuation of our attempt to present an alternative to the outer limits of ‘journalism’ in Vancouver. In addition the piece is being published to support the basic point made by Marquez that not only is the exploitation of migrant labourers common in Canada, but that it is the law. Contrary to what the Straight assumes, the burden of proof lies with Canadian employers like Great Canadian Gaming to show that they are pro-worker, not on journalists to “prove” that they are not — something which nonetheless is not difficult based on today’s interface of mega-corporations and federal labour laws.
What began in 2006 as an immigrant-sponsored sojourn for then-impoverished 19-year-old Mexican jockey Mario Gutierrez has now become the stuff of modern-day Canadian folklore. Five years ago Gutierrez came to race thoroughbreds at Hastings Race Course in Vancouver. Since then he’s raced over 2,000 times, earned over $7.7 million in profits for owners, and with his Triple Crown run injected a huge money shot into the city’s gaming business. “Mario’s been able to reach out to everybody, people not even thinking about racing, to sort of make it an entertainment option,” said Howard Blank, vice-president of the company that runs the Hastings Park racetrack, Great Canadian Gaming Corp.