Votes, Values and the 905
Courting Voters in the GTA
Voters in the "905" region of Toronto will play a key role in deciding the outcome of the federal election on May 2nd. Politicians are pulling out all the stops in an attempt to win over the so-called "ethnic" vote.
The Liberals are fighting to maintain the support of immigrants, voters who - since the days of Pierre Trudeau - have traditionally sided with them. The Conservatives are targeting specific ethnic groups, South Asians and Chinese mostly, hoping to tap into common values will translate into new votes - and possibly, a majority government. And of course, the New Democrat and Green parties are hoping to attract as many voters as they can.
Voters Weigh In
Here at Metro Morning, we tried to convene a debate with a panel of candidates
from ridings in the 905 to talk about this strategy of targeting specific
We weren't able to get a commitment from a Conservative candidate.
Instead, we convened two panels of community
leaders to get their views on the campaign for
the 905 vote.
On April 21st we spoke with Gloria Fung,
Sundha Berry, Tariq Amin-Khan, Baldev Mutta
and Neethan Shan.
On April 26th we talked to second
generation voters Farrah Khan,
Devyani Saltzman and Hanoz Kapadia.
Showdown In The Suburbs Part One: Matt Galloway spoke about the so-called "ethnic" vote" in the 905 area with Baldev Mutta, Sudha Berry, Tariq Amin-Khan, Gloria Fung and Neethan Shan. Listen (runs 11:28)
Showdown In The Suburbs Part Two: Matt Galloway spoke about the so-called "ethnic" vote" in the 905 area with Farrah Khan, Hanoz Kapadia and Devyani Saltzman. Listen (runs 11:15)
Promises, promises: Our panel discussed the potential pitfalls of assuming that campaign trail comments will actually translate into party policy. Listen (runs 11:01)
The Economy: For many immigrants, the economy affects whether they can find full-time jobs that reflect their level of international education, experience and expertise. Sudha Berry is a lawyer who has lived and worked in three countries - India, Canada and Britain. What frustrates her most is what she calls a "fundamental parochialism" in Canada.
"We focus so much value on Canadian experience," she says, "that we forget there is a value to international experience and there is quality experience to be gained abroad."
Matt Galloway speaks with her, along with Neethan Shan, Gloria Fung and Baldev Mutta about how economic issues are playing out within the various immigrant communities during election. Listen (runs 5:19)
Ethnic Implications: In a multicultural society such as Canada, how integrated are the various communities that make up our mosaic? Are the values of immigrants really the same as "Canadian" values?
With all major parties attempting to court South Asian and Chinese voters in particular, what, in turn, are the implications of their support? Do they expect a payoff in terms of new policy that speaks to their interests? In this segment, we get a range of views from the panelists: Tariq Amin-Khan, Neethan Shan, Baldev Mutta and Gloria Fung. Listen (runs 5:08)
Our Panelists: Farrah Khan
Farrah Khan is an active member of numerous community groups including the South Asian Legal Clinic and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations. She is one of the founders of AQSAzine, a grassroots zine and arts collective for young Muslim women.
Farrah currently works as a Counsellor and Advocate at the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic providing support to women who have experienced violence. The non-profit organization is a counselling, legal, interpretation, and referral service for women who have experienced childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, and partner abuse.
Farrah believes that ethnic targeting overlooks the fact that cultural groups contain a vast diversity of viewpoints and can't be reduced to issues that appeal to first generation Canadians.
Hanoz Kapadia is a Canadian-Indian businessman lives and works in Mississauga. He came to Canada when he was 9 years old from India with his parents in 1987. Hanoz is passionate about politics, and the political wooing of south Asians is insulting to him.
He believes the parties are pandering to the worst form of stereotype - a stereotype that no longer exists in second generation immigrants.
The issues Hanoz wants to hear about in this election are healthcare, affordable housing, childcare and jobs. Immigration is probably last on his list.
Devyani Saltzman is the author of Shooting Water, a memoir, as well as articles for The Globe and Mail, Marie Claire, The Walrus, TOK: an anthology of new Toronto writing, and Tehelka, India's weekly known for arts & investigative journalism. Shooting Water received starred reviews in both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, was called 'A poignant memoir' by The New York Times, and has been published internationally.
She is Curator of Literary Programming for Luminato, Toronto's Festival of Arts and Creativity, and is currently working on her first novel, Army of Peace.
Devyyani says,"I have gone beyond the ethnic vote. The policies that interest me are not exclusive to my ethnicity."
Gloria Fung is the former National Vice-President of the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC) and Director of Canada-Hong Kong Link. She is the go-to person on policy and election issues that affect the Chinese-Canadian community in the Greater Toronto Area.
Gloria has been a real estate consultant in the Toronto area for the past 20 years.
Tariq Amin-Khan is Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University, Toronto. In addition to a Ph.D. in Social and Political Thought from York University in Toronto, he holds a Master's degree in South Asian Studies (University of Toronto), Bachelor of Law (University of Karachi), and Bachelor of Science (California State University, Fresno).
His research interests include the comparative study of multiculturalism, nationalism, issues of South Asian state and society, international development, the security state and securitization, the post-colonial state, political and militant Islam.
Sudha Berry is a lawyer in the Toronto area qualified to practice both in Ontario and in England and Wales. She practiced on Bay Street for four years from 1994-1998 before moving to the UK in 1998. Before leaving Toronto in 1998, she was an active volunteer in the Toronto area. She served on the board and executive teams of each of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) and the Foundation for the Indian Performing Arts (FIPA) and also volunteered with various organisations, notably the Sindhi Cultural Association of Toronto (SCAT).
Born and raised in India, she is an immigrant to Canada from India and to Britain from Canada, is a citizen of both Canada and Britain but considers herself a citizen of the world. She has a B.A. Hons. (History, Political Philosophy and English Literature) from the University of Toronto, a LL.B. from Osgoode Hall, York University and a M.A. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, U.K.
Baldev Mutta is the Chief Executive Officer of the Punjabi Community Health Services in Peel Region.
He has over 30 years of experience working in the field of social work with a focus on addressing issues of violence, substance abuse and mental health in the south Asian community.
He has received many community awards for his work on equity, community development, diversity management, and organizational change. He also hosts his own television show, Community ConneXion, which airs every Saturday on Rogers Cable.
Neethan Shan currently works as the Executive Director of Council of Agencies Serving South Asians. He was also a Public School Trustee in York Region District School Board.
Neethan graduated from University of Toronto with Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education. He is currently pursuing a M.A degree at OISE/UT in the field of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education. He received many awards including Race Relations Award from Urban Alliance for Race Relations and Vital People award from Toronto Community Foundation.
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There was never an investigation, but there were many allegations about who did what in the so-called Nannygate scandal. Two nannies who worked for Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla say they were overworked, and lived in a climate of fear and intimidation. Dhalla denies the allegations, calling them false and unsubstantiated.
Brampton-Springdale is one of the most hotly contested ridings in the GTA federal election. In 2008, Dhalla defeated her Conservative opponent, Parm Gill, by a mere 773 votes. Both candidates are running again this time, along with Manjit Grewal (NDP) and Mark Hoffberg (Green). As Mary Wiens tells us, for the many South Asian voters, how they vote may come down to how you treat the people who work for you. Listen (runs 6:59)