Courting the ethnic vote

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The campaign plan was to offer well-timed apologies for government treatment of certain ethnic minorities. Instead the strategy was leaked forcing a different kind of apology from BC's Christy Clark and raising wider questions of how politicians target voters.



CBC Legislative Reporter, Stephen Smart

I sincerely apologize for the language that was used in the document. I think when you make a mistake when someone in your organization makes a mistake that right thing to do is own up to it and make it right - BC Premier Christy Clark

BC Premier Christy Clark is still standing this morning. But she doesn't have as much company as she used to. Yesterday afternoon, John Yap, the Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism, resigned over a government document that laid out a strategy for targeting voters in various ethnic communities. Kim Haakstad -- Premier Clark's former Deputy Chief of Staff and the person who developed the strategy -- has also resigned.

And the calls for the Premier's head are still coming strong ... in part because of the time she took in personally responding to the leaked document. Among other things, the memo suggested that apologizing for historical wrongs was a good way of wooing ethnic voters and getting so-called "quick wins" for the government in advance of an election in May.

Stephen Smart is the CBC Legislative Reporter in Victoria.

Panel: Avvy Go / Tung Chan

One of the apologies touted as a "quick win" in the leaked document was one made by the federal government in 2008 over the Komagata Maru incident. In 1914, more than 350 people from India were denied entry into Canada because of an exclusion law barring emigrants from Asia.

An apology was also made in the BC Legislature and a memorial site was set up on the sea wall in Downtown Vancouver. That's where we met up with Harbhajan Gill, the President of the Komagata Maru Heritage Foundation.

To talk about the controversy over courting ethnic votes we were joined by two people.

Avvy Go is the Clinic Director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. She was in Toronto.

And Tung Chan is a former Vancouver city councilor and the vice chair of the Canadian Museum of Immigration. He was in Vancouver.

This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath, Josh Bloch and Naheed Mustafa.

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