Back in 2015 the Conservative Party made two campaign blunders:
- In the wake of the tragic death of a small Syrian boy on a Turkish beach they failed to respond with the generosity of spirit that almost all Canadians wanted; and
- They decided to attack “barbaric cultural practices” which many, many Canadians, me included, interpreted as a thinly veiled attack on Middle Eastern and African immigrant communities.
The Liberals pounced and made political hay out of the Conservatives’ apparent hostility to the poorest of the poor in the world. The data suggests, to me, that some people who voted Conservative in 2011 either stayed home or switched to the Liberals in 2015, but, mainly, the Liberals energized millions of new, mainly younger voters, including many new Canadians who were, previously, politically apathetic, and they came out to vote and they voted for Justin Trudeau.
But the Chinese Canadian community, which is the largest non-European “ethnic” or “visible minority” group in Canada (about 5% of the population), seemed to hold its established political allegiances to all of the major political parties …
… but it is, very broadly, a socially moderate and fiscally prudent community with a long history of achievement in Canada and without ties to any single religious group.
Recently, however, some parts of the large and diverse Chinese-Canadian community have become concerned about some Liberal policies, especially with regard to
illegal irregular migrants. Now a Chinese businessman, a permanent resident of Canada but not a citizen, yet, who had, previously, been a supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada has come out in support of the Conservatives and, predictably, the Liberals and the NDP are raising the cry of illegal fundraising. The fear, for the Liberals, especially, is that Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives can repeat the success that Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney achieved a few years ago in bringing both money and the ethnic vote to the Conservative camp.
I do not believe that “ethnic Canadians” are the property of any one political party; my own personal experience suggests that many “ethnic Canadians” share a broad range of socio-economic and political values, some of which make the NDP an attractive political “home,” while for others that “home” is the Liberal Party of Canada, while, for a few others, it will be the Greens and, for many more, the Conservatives. Diversity is a strength for all parties.
The charge of using third party groups to skirt election laws is not new; the Conservatives have been tarred with this brush before (and has been guilty of some shady dealings, too) even though it appears that groups like Leadnow and the Tides Foundation ~ groups which work hard against anything Conservative ~ are rarely if ever mentioned in the mainstream media. But the Trudeau Liberals have also been courting “money and the ethnic vote,” including in the Chinese community. In fact, as the recent Globe and Mail story, linked in the fourth paragraph, above, says, Mr Zhou, who is now being accused of raising funds for Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, “was among a select group of Chinese-Canadian businessmen who attended an exclusive cash-for-access fundraiser in 2016 where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Chinese billionaires Zhang Bin and Niu Gensheng … [who then] … donated $1-million to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.” As the Globe and Mail explained, in 2017, the Vancouver “cash for access” meeting with Canada’s prime minister as the ‘prize’ was not a one-off affair.
Canada’s ethnic communities are not monolithic; some, like the Chinese-Canadians have firm political roots in several different parties ~ in fact they are not much different from Canadians of European origin in that they try to preserve some aspects of the “old country” culture while they contribute, mightily, to the socio-economic future of their new homeland. In some cases, in some ethnic communities, family ties are strong and some families have business dealings with the “old country,” and, now and again, are tied to rich foreign businessmen who want to influence Canadian trade policies. There is nothing wrong with that, in any way, and, in fact, it is one of the advantages of a sound immigration policy which allows us, eventually, to exploit those “families ties” to strengthen our trading relationships. What is wrong is Justin Trudeau’s “cash for access” scheme and other fundraising techniques that are designed go skirt Canada’s campaign financing laws. If this new “network” set up by Mr Zhou is breaking any laws then it needs to be closed down … just as Prime Minister Trudeau must be held to account, in parliament and in the media, for his egregious breaches of legal and ethical standards in the (still ongoing?) “cash for access” schemes.