Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Harper Captures Ethnic Vote? Hardly.

Stephen Harper - the "Sub-Prime" Minister, would like to think he scored ethnic votes last night. Not quite, Steve. Going into the election Harper and Jason Kenney were doing all they could - and even doing some things they didn't really do (see Komagata Maru pseudu-apology) - to try to win support in so-called "ethnic" ridings.

Firstly the pretext of "ethnic" ridings is wrong - and I would postulate the terminology almost discriminatory in it's nature. When the Conservatives talk "ethnics" they are really talking about those handful of ridings where VISIBLE minorities hold strength. They don't note Italian, or Greek, or other neighborhoods in Canada - areas where the Liberal Party maintains VERY strong support.

The Liberal Party kept our solid core of supporters, and held our ridings represented by many so-called "ethnics". The Conservatives, on the other hand, lost a couple of key visible minority members: Rahim Jaffer (Radio Rahim), and Wajid Khan (still don't know what happened to his report on the Afghan/Pakistan situation)... They eked out a win in Richmond, where they replaced one minority candidate with a more popular one. Even there, friends tell me it was the popularity of the candidate, and the "head-tax" apology, and not "conservative ideology" which won out.

I was at the massive victory party held for Sukh Dhaliwal in Surrey. Ruby Dhalla's private member's bill (on the Komagata Maru situation) really helped. There is a Liberal commitment to offer an apology in the House, and the party will be pushing for it this session, again. Sukh solidified his support in the riding. Funny, though, that some of the people helping him were the same ones who supported Nina Grewal in her win in Fleetwood Port Kells. You see, for a small part of "our" community, it is the "having one of your own" (an "apna") in Parliament that is more important than ideology to a significant portion of our voters - particularly the less politically informed. Of the ones who are more informed, there is a bulk of supporters for the Liberals. I had a comment from one of the "apnas" that stopped by my business this morning. He is a community leader, and has organized many big events, including fund-raising for local hospitals. He told me this... He is a Liberal and a liberal. He said, what he's seen is that people say, "yeah there are a lot of those rednecks and extremists in the Conservative Party", but we'll throw it in their face... We'll elect one of our's, and change it from the inside...". He said, they "think" that's how it will work, but they don't realize how it actually will work, once inside the party mechanism... Then they sit on their hands as back-benchers, and get the odd scrap tossed their way (a chance to read a private member's bill - most likely written by party operatives, or a public "apology" in a blatant attempt at buying votes)...

We saw a "great" example of a South Asian being "accepted" by Conservatives in Edmonton Sherwood Park yesterday. When members of the Conservative riding association, and members of the party-at-large felt that "this outsider" had "stolen" the nomination from them, they turned and supported an independant "conservative" (who supported Stephen Harper). They were so upset by the change that they almost gave an incumbent Conservative seat to an Independant. How's that for a party supportive of minorities? The leadership may make cheap, vote-buying overtures, but they still hate ya... and the party cadres will turn against you. Lucky for Tim he was able to opportunistically run in an area that has been a Conservative bastion since the beginning of time and just barely eke out a victory... Enough Cons didn't want to offend the party, so stuck with "Tim". Congrats to Tim. You're a smart man. Let's hope you are able to stand up for both your riding and your people (all your people).

Minorities - due to the pressures they face in society - tend to stick to liberal values (fical responsibility, social consciousness, support of the middle classes and small business). Even if they happen to carry another flag, they tend to maintain those values. They remain liberal in every sense of the word. New immigrants and minorities have a way of changing the organizations they are involved in for the better... Let's hope the conservative "faithful" are "comfortable" with these changes...

Like my friend said today: "We may not be able to change you by opposing you, but we'll change you from the inside..." It will more likely just cause in-fighting and turmoil (Newbees vs. "establishment"), and these folks will be rendered to the role of "ideological back-benchers" and "tokens". I'm sure that assessment of the party with the conservative ideology is correct.

1 comment:

Oldschool said...

Liberal Values . . . that's something like Military Intelligence, Government Assistance, and of course Liberal Ethics!!!

Anywhere where the ethnic voters are hard-working productive citizens they seem to vote conservative . . . In the inner cities where the dole is prevalent . . . the LPC is the answer, they never have to worry about the high liberal taxes.