Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Where are the CBC MPs and MPPs/MLAs?

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 2, 2008

There are 305 MPs in the Canadian House of Commons. Two of them, Olivia Chow and Raymond Chan, are of “full” Chinese descent (another, Michael Chong, is half Chinese, half Dutch) and both are not CBC. In fact, both came after the age of 10 (I believe Oliva Chow came to Canada in time to start high school (or the year before) and Raymond Chan came in his late teens). As they came as older kids/young adults, they are not exactly qualified to represent the views of people of Chinese descent born and raised in this country when it comes to diversity. They are more likely to side with the “mainstream” of diversity and multiculturalism from the immigrant point of view.

***Note, there is one Vietnamese-Canadian MP, Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac. She wasn’t born here either. Interesting to note that there are probably twice as many South Asian MPs than Chinese, yet South Asians only slightly outnumber Chinese Canadians in terms of population. Something’s really, really wrong here!***

There are 107 MPPs at Queen’s Park (Member of Provincial Parliament….why is Ontario the only province who uses the term MPP? Other English-speaking provinces use MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly)). Out of the 107, only one, the Hon. Michael Chan, is Chinese Canadian, and he’s also “not from here.”

In British Columbia, there are 78 MLAs and 4 of them are of Chinese descent. BC seems to be a little better, as at least one, Ida Chong, is CBC.

So my question is this: Why aren’t people more CBCs elected or even running? Confidence issues? Or is it because Chinese people just don’t have a “history” of voting (India has been independent for decades) ? If it’s the latter, why on EARTH are there more non-CBCs than CBCs in government?

(I’ll do a separate post on city council at a later date)


6 Responses to “Where are the CBC MPs and MPPs/MLAs?”

  1. tUCC said

    A very astute observation ChineseCanuck!

    There had been a number of CbC’ers running for public office here on the westcoast, but have been unsuccessful. For a myriad of reasons.

    I have been trying to help a number of good CbCers take a kick at the can – no matter what political stripe. And at times, close to succeeding.

    But, all is not lost. There is a formula, and it really isn’t that difficult. That key ingredient is leadership – role model and succession planning within the community.

    It seems that the biggest hurdle occurs at the candidate nomination process, where busloads of “supporters” would stack up the votes in favour of those candidates who knows how to play the game.

    There is an old saying in the Cantonese speaking community – and to paraphrase here:
    “the problem with Canadian born Chinese is that they are too straight and too honest… they don’t know how to survive. They can’t compete against us (hong kongers)”

    A few of us are nurturing some younger ones within the CC community…CbC’ers and new immigrants – who share passion and respect for Canada. We’ve been successful in assisting them by helping with placement as Ministerial aids, campaign CC liaison etc… we hope by giving these young ones the experience and knowledge of how governance works, we can facilitate a new generation of community leaders – based on knowledge and insight vs what we have now. Which is a collection of marble mouthed CC politicians who are an embarrassment to not just our CC community, but to Canada as a whole.

    Thanks for writing on this topic. We should shine more light onto this and hope others will join in this important discussion.

  2. tUCC said

    Oh CCanuck, can I expand on your post here, and make mention of it on my blog? thanks.

  3. Yeah, go ahead 🙂


  4. Are most of our South Asian MPs foreign-born or Canadian-born?

  5. On South Asian MPs: I think it’s a mix. Some are Canadian-born and others are foreign-born. I have a feeling that it slightly skews foreign though.

  6. tUCC said

    I believe most South Asian MPs, MLAs, MPPs are foreign born.

    In fact, I think the speediest MP occurance… from immigrant to MP occurred in BC, when Grewal became MP. I think it was 3.5 years. How he did it is another story.

    He was not re-elected after a scandal that involved him and Ujjal Dosanjh on some alleged bribes on doctored telephone tape recordings.

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