I opened an e-mail from my daughter recently, she was outraged by a news story about an Edmonton radio station that was running a contest offering the winner a mail order bride. The contest has generated a lot of publicity as well as a lot of controversy. CBC Edmonton, CTV Edmonton and the Edmonton Journal all ran the story.
Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta’s Employment and Immigration Minister, pulled his office’s advertisement from The Bear 100.3, according to Edmonton Journal reporter Nikki Thomas, the minister felt the contest was in poor taste.
CTV Edmonton reported that 64 people have entered the contest dubbed “Win a Wife” by The Bear radio station. CTV points out the radio station is known for pulling what it terms “crazy stunts”.
And according to The Edmonton Journal the radio station has responded to criticism of the contest via an e-mail written by Rob Vavrek, brand director for The Bear in which he claims the contest is misunderstood. In the e-mail Vavrek compares the contest with reality television shows like “The Bachelor” .
CBC Edmonton reported that the radio station is partnering with an online matchmaking service. The news agency quoted Andrea Burkhart, with Alberta’s Action Coalition on Human Trafficking, who said that it is unknown how the potential brides would be brought into the contest.
The CBC also interviewed a contestant who sees nothing wrong with the contest.
The Edmonton Journal quoted Minister Lukaszuk, “In some parts of the world where women make themselves available to be Internet brides or through international dating agencies … they very seldom have that choice. They are either coerced into that position by despairing economic circumstances or they are coaxed into it by illegal elements,” he said.
The winner of the contest will be declared at the end of this month.
So my question is this: Should the fore-mentioned news agencies have covered the story?
The story has generated two main responses one young man on my face book called it hilarious while others are shocked and outraged by it. I am also interested in knowing more about the overseas agency that has partnered with the station. What criteria do they follow when they sign up women to be potential brides for grooms they have never met. And how do they screen potential grooms? What safe guards are in place?
If these women are coerced as Alberta’s Immigration Minister intimates then this is a human rights issue. The issue of human trafficking was also vaguely referred to in coverage by the CBC.
These are serious issues. By reporting on the story are the news agencies shedding light on a real human problem or are they giving the Bear radio station unjustifiable publicity?
What do you think?