Why the B.C. Liberals deserve scorn and ridicule for their plan to pursue nonwhite voters
The premier has apologized for using government resources to advance her party's prospects. The Opposition has scored a major triumph. And the B.C. NDP's slogan—change for the better—resonates like never before.
Had the B.C. Liberals established a better resumé in addressing historical injustices, they wouldn't have become such an object of ridicule.
But they went into this controversy with a fairly dismal track record.
The former premier, Gordon Campbell, had a distinctly ahistorical outlook for most of his career. As leader of the Opposition, he went to court against the treaty with the Nisga'a people. Once in power, he held a referendum on minority rights. And he scrapped the B.C. Human Rights Commission.
Then in 2004 when it came time to shuffle his cabinet, Campbell appointed 16 white men, three white women, and no visible minorities to senior positions.
The seven B.C. Liberal MLAs of South Asian descent and the three B.C. Liberal MLAs of Chinese descent didn't make it to the big show. Ida Chong, Sindi Hawkins, and Gulzar Cheema were named ministers of state, which meant they had to report to senior ministers.
Similarly, Premier Christy Clark has not developed a reputation for acknowledging the need for B.C. to come to terms with its white-supremacist history.
She's happy to speak from the stage at the annual Vaisakhi celebration and march in the annual Chinese New Year parade to show her allegiance to nonwhite communities. The last thing she wants to do is create a human-rights commission to educate the public about discrimination on the basis of race and sexual orientation. She also won't order school boards to do more to address homophobia.
I've attended many educational events focusing on miserable treatment of Chinese and Indian pioneers, which have been put on by progressives in the local Chinese and South Asian communities. I've never seen Clark at any of them, whereas NDP Leader Adrian Dix and former NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh have shown up at several.
Dix and Dosanjh clearly want to learn more about how minority communities overcame oppression and helped build our province.
Clark, on the other hand, hasn't demonstrated nearly the same level of curiosity as an MLA, cabinet minister, and radio broadcaster.
This has created a credibility gap between the B.C. Liberals' day-to-day actions and their pre-election efforts to attract votes from nonwhite communities.
The bottom line is that the B.C. Liberals hadn't built up much goodwill in advance of screwing up so badly.
It didn't help that their actions were condemned by one of their highest profile MLAs of colour, Kash Heed.
The B.C. Liberals' biggest error wasn't their absurd plan to profit electorally by apologizing for historical wrongs.
It was ignoring those wrongs in the first place.