The Chinese Vote in Vancouver: NPA, Vision Vancouver or COPE?
The Vancouver Sun has run an article titled Vision trying to
lure Chinese voters away from NPA on today's page B5. But the
article does not identify a distinction between Chinese immigrant
voters and the multigenerational Chinese Canadians born and raised in
The reporter Frances Bula, had interviewed me on Friday afternoon asking me about
whether Vision Vancouver can capture some of the traditional Chinese
vote in Vancouver. I immediately asked “Which Chinese community
vote are you talking about?”
“Raymond Louie, is the first Vancouver born City Councillor,” I told
Frances Bula, who was surprised at the fact. Bill Yee was the first
Chinese elected to council but he wasn't born in Vancouver.
“Sandra Wilking was the first Chinese woman councillor but was born in
South Africa. Jenny Kwan was the first COPE councillor but was born in
“We have to go back to Douglas Jung in 1957″ to find a Chinese Canadian
politician born in Vancouver.” Jung was Canada's first Member of
Parliament. Even Art Lee, elected in the 1970's had come from
“We are what I call the 'invisible visible-minority',
multi-generational Canadian born chinese, who have integrated and
assimilated into the mainstream,” I told the reporter.
“How do I vote? I vote according to the person, rather than
strictly along party lines. It's important to have a healthy
opposition in government, or on civic council That's why people
kept voting for Harry Rankin.
“I like Ellen Woodsworth of COPE, and Heather Deal of Vision Vancouver.
I've gotten to know them since they were elected. I know both Sam
Sullivan and Jim Green – Sam has supported our Asian Canadian Writers
Workshop dinners, and Jim has helped us with the Save Kogawa House
campaign. Anne Roberts, Peter Ladner, along with Woodsworth and
Sullivan also attended my Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner earlier this year. They are all wonderful human beings.”
“I first got to know Raymond Louie through his wife, when she was
on the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society. Raymond, like all
my cousins on my mom's side – all married caucasians.” This surprised
Raymond wants to be more than just “the Chinese councillor” – more
importantly, he identifies himself as a Canadian who happens to be of
Chinese ethnicity, as I do. I can actually say this about many
multi-generational ethnic Canadians, because we think Canadian
first! And we are better able to cross ethnic lines this way, and
better able to understand all cultures.
Raymond's family has been in Vancouver for a long time. We gave
shared stories about early Chinatown experiences. George
Chow's grandfather paid the head tax, and he immigrated to Vancouver in
the 1960's. Personally, I don't expect
the newer immigrant counsellor candidates to understand some of these
issues about head tax or the experiences of the pioneer chinese of the
1800's and early 1900's. But I think Raymond and George
can. They are also people I can relate to and trust.
Then again, I can't expect myself to understand a lot of the immigrant
issues. But because I am more familiar with Chinese culture, and
work with and know a lot of immigrant Chinese, I am probably more
knowledgeable than somebody who is non-Chinese and hasn't experienced
Raymond I and were both at the opening of the 3 Chinese Canadian Pioneer Familes
exhibit at the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum and archives in
2002. I am descended from Rev. Chan Yu Tan, and he is a distant
relative of H.Y. Louie, who were both featured along with Lee-Bick, the
ancestor of former UBC Counsellor and Vancouver businessman Bob Lee.
I think that it is a myth that the Chinese vote traditionally goes to
the NPA, and it may be simply that the NPA were better at recruiting
candidates such as Tung Chan, Don Lee, and Daniel Lee, who as native
Chinese speakers were better able to speak to Chinese media. Even
the Chinese Canadian voters didn't fully support Douglas Jung in his
re-election bid, nor did Don Lee and Daniel Lee get re-elected in the
last civic election, even though Raymond Louie was elected.
I know that I have also had the pleasure to meet Alan Wong and John
Cheng, the COPE and NPA Vancouver School Board Trustees. They are
also both wonderful men, but I relate a bit better to Alan maybe
because he grew up here in Canada, and we are closer in age.
I think that when people vote, they want the people who can best
represent their interests. And this may also mean voting for
people that come from similar backgrounds, hence immigrants may be more
likely to vote for other immigrants of similar background. But
they may also vote for people who are multigenerational, and represent
how their children will grow up as integrated Canadians and
I forgot to tell the reporter that I'll be attending the Libby Davies' COPE
dinner fundraiser on November 10th at the Rich Ocean Seafood Chinese
Restaurant on 777 West Broadway. It's being organized by my
friend Meena Wong, who is helping COPE as a chinese voter
strategist. And I may even be wearing my
kilt as a performer with my accordion. How Chinese is that?
Not very…. but very multicultural Vancouver!