The Jenny Kwan-Mable Elmore battle for the federal NDP nomination in Vancouver East can be explored in a number of ways.
One is through its ethnic dimension, a subject that is of great interest to Raj Hundal, a key New Democrat organizer with deep roots in the South Asian community.
Kwan and Elmore are identified with two big ethnic communities—the Chinese and Filipino, respectively—and under different circumstances, it might be beneficial for the NDP to have the two in the House of Commons.
As Hundal put it in a phone interview today (January 29) with the Straight, “Thomas Mulcair and the federal NDP would be very gladly welcoming both a Chinese Canadian member of Parliament or a Filipino Canadian member of Parliament to the table.”
Especially with former Trinity-Spadina NDP MP Olivia Chow no longer sitting in the House of Commons, Hundal said the party “would look at bringing, hopefully, Jenny Kwan on board”.
But “from the same side, you know,” Hundal went on, “the party does not have a Filipino member of Parliament either”, hence Elmore would be perfect.
“So it would advantageous to have both but unfortunately with the nomination battle there, only one will succeed,” he said.
“But either way,” Hundal continued, “I think it bodes well for the federal NDP in selecting either Kwan or Elmore as their candidate”.
The ethnic aspect of the Kwan-Elmore contest also has ramifications at the provincial level.
Kwan, who is the B.C. NDP MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, is the only member of the provincial party’s legislative caucus who is of Chinese descent.
Elmore is MLA for Vancouver-Kensington, and her first election in 2009 represented a breakthrough for someone of Filipino ancestry in B.C., making her a darling for many in the community.
With the two wanting to jump to the federal scene, that likely means that the B.C. NDP is sure to lose either a Chinese or Filipino MLA from its caucus.
(Scott McLean, SFU’s director of media and community relations, is also seeking the federal NDP nomination in Vancouver East.)
According to Hundal, it would be “important strategically” for the provincial NDP to “encourage” someone of Chinese or Filipino ancestry to consider running in either of Kwan’s or Elmore’s constituency later on.
Hundal didn’t mention any names.
Gabriel Yiu may be one. Yiu has run unsuccessfully for the B.C. NDP, and he’s known as a Kwan loyalist. Yiu may consider Kwan’s Vancouver-Mount Pleasant constituency if Kwan goes on to become MP.
For her part, Elmore has taken under her wing a number of mostly young and aspiring Filipino Canadian politicians. They may want to take a crack at Vancouver-Kensington if Elmore goes federal.
The federal election will take place sometime this year. The Kwan-Elmore nomination race will trigger a provincial byelection for either of their B.C. legislative seats.
Hundal didn’t give any indication which side he’s cheering for.
Both Elmore and Hundal are identified with ex-B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix. They are said to have delivered substantial votes from their respective ethnic communities in the successful 2011 party leadership campaign of Dix.
Kwan supported Mike Farnworth against Dix in the NDP leadership contest. She was also part of a faction that forced Carole James to step down as B.C. NDP leader. James is an ally to both her successor, Dix, and Dix’s replacement and current leader, John Horgan.