B.C.’s South Asians helped hand eight ridings to the NDP

The power of ethnic voting based upon issues that affect the community:

A range of negative factors, which some might call a perfect storm, hurt B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark and sharply swung South Asian voters to John Horgan’s New Democratic Party in the May 9 election.

The B.C. Liberals lost all eight Metro Vancouver ridings with large South Asian populations, with political observers saying the governing party failed to connect with voters on both regional issues and worries specific to South Asians.

South Asians felt particularly betrayed by the B.C. Liberals’ approach to the trucking and taxi industries in which South Asians are predominant, said Kwantlen Polytechnic University political scientist Shinder Purewal and prominent radio host Harjit Singh Gill.
Most of Metro Vancouver’s more than 260,000 South Asians also showed little interest in the B.C. Green party, which means that, unlike in many predominantly white urban ridings, the potential NDP vote was not siphoned off to the third-party Greens.

In north Surrey and north Delta, where South Asians often account for 50 to 80 per cent of the population in neighbourhoods, the NDP on May 9th took four ridings away from the B.C. Liberals (including the defeat of two cabinet ministers) and held on to three others.

The NDP’s George Chow also won Vancouver-Fraserview, which has a sizable South Asian population, defeating Liberal Attorney General Suzanne Anton.

In addition to issues of special concern to South Asians, Gill and Purewal made clear South Asians were miffed with the B.C. Liberals because of three key conflicts that cut across ethnic lines.

Like many others in Surrey, they said, South Asians were ticked with the B.C. Liberals for placing tolls on the Port Mann and proposed future bridges, about thousands of Surrey students making do with school portables and by the Liberals’ abandoned promise to build a second hospital in Surrey.

“South Asians felt betrayed by the people they had sent to Victoria,” said Gill, host of a popular Punjabi- and English-language radio talk show at 1550 AM.

Gill maintained his more than 100,000 listeners saw the B.C. Liberals as “becoming very arrogant” and under the influence of would-be Punjabi “kingmakers;” insiders whom he said had manoeuvred to have their favourites acclaimed as candidates, without nomination battles.

Gill focused several radio programs on the party’s failure to help thousands of Metro Vancouver truck drivers.

The United Truckers Association (UTA), whose membership is predominantly South Asian, publicly hammered the B.C. Liberals for abandoning truck drivers. “They’re going through a very hard time now,” Gill said. Many truckers had gone on strike and “are being exploited by their owners.”

Purewal, who attended UTA meetings as an observer, estimated 80 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s truck and taxi drivers are South Asians.

Surrey itself, he said, is home to more than 7,000 truck drivers.

The B.C. Liberals’ promise in March to support the arrival of Uber, the ride-hailing service, also aggravated many South Asian taxi drivers, said Gill and Purewal.

Source: B.C.’s South Asians helped hand eight ridings to the NDP | Vancouver Sun

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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