Though the face of Cambridge is changing with the influx of immigrants to our fair city, the Times remains mired somewhere back in the white-bread, 1980’s. Our local paper fails miserably to reflect the rich diversity that differentiates today’s multicultural mosaic from the boring old melting pot of yesteryear. As a long time reader of the Times, I acknowledge that there have been a few letters to the editor from people bearing exotic names and an odd story or two of an expansion to a local mosque but that’s about the extent of it. The Times can stand to warm up the cold evenings of the polar vortex by featuring some spicy stories from the vibrant multicultural community of Cambridge.
Why not have a regular guest columnist expressing the views from new cultures calling Cambridge home? The Times can arguably stand to have James Hagerty share fewer revelations from his boudoir and instead open the door to authentic revelations on the hereafter via an “Imam’s Corner” column. Modeled after the ever popular Hockey Night in Canada’s “Coach’s Corner”, an affable Imam could use his 400 words every week to showcase a Koranic lesson
or recount an instance of Mohammed’s exemplary behavior. This would certainly be a public service to new converts to Islam in Canada who have an alarming propensity to“self-radicalize” in exactly the same way and inexplicably run off to join Al Qaeda.
Walter Gowing can dedicate every 4th column to provide much needed context to explain the latest affront to cultural sensitivity that has been caused by some clumsy Islamophobe or expound on how intolerable Gideon Bible giveaways can be to newly arrived immigrants. In the “Ask a Professional” feature of the Times, “how-to don a niqab” would be both wildly popular and topical. In subsequent weeks the Islamic haute couture consultant can follow-up with “how to avoid running over pedestrians while driving with your veil” or answer the perplexing and uniquely Muslim Canadian question “is it immodest to wear your parka over your burka?” The editorial page should be used to elevate the social conscience of Cambridge citizens and rally them to address the pressing needs of pious believers in our previously secular community. If only readers understood the challenges faced by marginalized citizens who bear so many religious obligations and have so few public prayer rooms and foot baths to accommodate their needs, they’d be willing to pay higher taxes and zakat too. The editor could easily shame school boards, City Hall and Premier Wynne to make long overdue investments in barrier-free access for our religiously observant citizens. The Times could be a leader in the Waterloo Region and be the first to provide Halal Classified ads section. We’d certainly be a world class city with adverts for cheap, alcohol- free flights for the Hajj, ads for Sharia compliant marriage counselors and post sisters-only swim times at our public pools!
The possibilities are endless so one must ask – isn’t a community newspaper supposed to reflect its community? When will the Times get with the times?