BC's May 17th provincial election re-elected Jenny Kwan (Vancouver
Mount Pleasant) by one of the biggest majorities in the election.
Kwan's 43% margin over Liberal opponent Juliet Andalis, a Filipino
nurse, was 3rd only to West Vancouver – Capilano's Ralph Sultan's 52%
and Vancouver Quilchena's Colin Hansen's 47%.
Returning Liberals Ida Chong (Oak Bay-Gordon Head) won by a narrow
margin of 1121 votes (5% victory margin), while Richad Lee (Burnaby
North) won a squeaker by only 339 votes (4% victory margin). Former
minister for Multiculturalism Patrick Wong lost his Vancouver Kensington
seat by 1,295 votes to NDP's David Chudnovshky. Liberal newcomer John
Yap handily won Richmond-Steveston by 4,913 votes.
Burnaby Willingdon was an interesting riding to watch as Chinese media
journalist Gabriel Yiu lost narrowly to the Liberal's John Nuraney by a
5% margin of 595 votes. It might have been speculated that the
Democratic Reform candidate Tony Kuo and independent candidate Tom Tao
would split the Chinese vote. When Kuo and Tao's combined votes of 642
are added to Yiu's 5,243 votes to create a grand total of 5,885. He
then comes ahead of Nuraney's 5,828 by 57 votes.
Does the Chinese ethnic vote make a difference? or are Chinese
Canadians voting for the party and the person. Today on Vaughan
Palmer's BC Reports show on Shaw TV, he interviewed retired MLA's
Christy Clark and Joy McPhail and asked them about the Chinese and
Indo-Canadian communities. Both reported that the ethnic communities
are incredibly diverse and “textured.” I also have heard that many of
the ethnic communities vote Liberal, because it was the Liberals that
changed the immigration rulings that allowed them easier access to
immigrate to Canada.
Do Chinese MLA's make a difference in the legislature?
Jenny Kwan was, I think, the first Chinese Canadian MLA in BC. She has
worked extremely hard to represent both the causes and issues of recent
immigrants and the pionneer history of the Chinese in BC. It all comes
down to representation of experience. Mike Harcourt had an
understanding of Chinese Canadians because he had good friends who were
Chinese such as Shirley Chan, his administrative assistant – but he
didn't carry the issues in his life experience as she did.
I have met Jenny Kwan, Richard Lee and Patrick Wong. I believe that
Kwan best understands the Chinese historical roots that best relate to
me as a 5th generation Vancouverite. The issues in the Chinese
community are diverse and transcend many generations. It is only with a
broader range of Chinese Canadian, Indo-Canadian, Scottish Canadian,
and First Nations peoples, that the BC Legislature can truly be
representative of all Canadians. The histories of all our peoples,
Ukranian, French, Spanish and Japanese are imbedded in our province.
If we ignore our cultural histories, then we ignore our understandings
of ourselves. This is what the province did when they invoked the
racist “Potlatch” law against the Native Peoples of this province in an
effort to systematically weaken First Nations culture and traditions. I
believe that culture matters more than economics in defining who we
are. But it is a strong economy that supports a strong culture. I hope
that all our BC provincial MLA's can embrace our province's cultures,
and that our Chinese Canadian MLA's do their best to represent our
shared heritage and culture.