Friday, January 05, 2007

Wajid Khan - Turncoat Action May Help Us In The Long Run

So PM Shrub thought he'd have a 5th columnist not-so-hidden among Liberal ranks. Harper could not cajole, beg, or borrow an urban Canadian seat in any of the major metros, so he bought one (Emerson), and now by giving a glory-hungry South Asian (I'm South Asian, so I can say with confidence what I know precisely what a lot of South Asian 1st generation politicians and wannabes are like) an "important" role in caucus ("Official Currier - would that be vindaloo? hahaha - of Favor for South Asian Affairs"). 2nd generation politicians tend to be a lot less driven by these factors - people like Ruby Dhalla, Rahim Jaffer, or Navdeep Bains, all raised in Canada have a fresh new outlook on politics, much different than their 1st gen parents.

As a South Asian I'm appalled that any person of my cultural background would even consider running for the Cons. Sure, they may have some things in common (ex: liking "free enterprise"), but so do Liberals. These people seem not to consider that the full slate of Conservative views are detrimental to both immigrants and visible minorities (as well as women and minorities in general). As someone who grew up around a lot of first generation immigrant South Asian politicians, I can say that many of their "facilitators" were only concerned with "being the boss" or the "bigshot" in any community. They typically run no-holds-barred fights just to gain key roles in community religious or cultural organizations. After these (often dirty) fights, they divide communities and end up hurting the parties they work for (as the people who despise them will typically work for "anyone but" them - regardless of ideology, it becomes a popularity contest).

Politicians like Mr. Khan (good riddance) have no scruples. To sell out your principles (if indeed you had any) for a position, is really the wrong thing to do. I know what Mr. Khan was thinking... He must be basking in the glory of his position as THE link to the federal government for the several hundred thousand South Asians in Canada - as well as the millions of South Asians they relate to abroad. This type of position - while not seeming important to a lot of Canadians - can have a huge reward for the position-holder - both personal and often financial. Certainly being able to reinforce one's political power is one huge part of it.

Perhaps we Liberals need to be a little more careful in our selection of candidates, although I don't think this is really the key. What we Liberals need to do is to stop taking for granted that we "own" the minority vote. Sure, on the issues we are right there with minorities across Canada. Being moderates lends itself to that. The thing is, when the Cons run at us, they will usually hit us with some "quick-win" approach that costs them nothing (ex; apology to Chinese Canadians), or something equally visible - but for which they could care less. They typically will do this rather than have actual social policy which helps minorities and underprivileged Canadians move ahead. I strongly urge our newly elected Multicultural Chair - as well as our new leadership - to do something in the way of a concerted Multiculturalism Policy for the lead-up to the next election.

We saw a leadership campaign in which bus-loads of South Asian (in particular) delegates were aggressively courted by all camps. It is time for the favor to be returned - for the good of Canadian minorities AND for the good of our party. If we fail - as a party - to secure a mainstay of our urban vote, we will struggle to retain some urban seats in the next federal election. Knowing our "glorious successes" against Conservatives in rural ridings, we may well be in trouble if we don't shore up our "bread and butter" vote. The party needs to begin a concerted campaign outlining what great leaders like Laurier, Pearson, Trudeau, and Cretien did for minorities and immigrants. I hope Mr. Amarjit Grewal (our new Multiculturalism Chair) is up to the challenge. Hopefully he'll get some help in consulting our leadership on engaging the multiculturalism issue in a general election (and before it). MPs like Ujjal Dusanj, Sukh Dhaliwal, Ruby Dhalla, and Navdeep Bains will all have to play a key role in this "Multiculturalism Renewal Process".

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