Prominent Chinese Canadian calls on B.C. parties to create Asian caucuses

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Sometimes, issues arise in the Mandarin-language Vancouver media that escape the attention of English-speaking reporters.

      One such example is a call by Omni TV broadcaster and writer Ding Guo for B.C. political parties to create Asian caucuses.

      "The concept of 'Asian caucus' is a good thing to change the existing party framework mechanism and allow Asian legislators to play a collective role," Ding wrote in a recent commentary (translated from Chinese text). "To this end, I support any political party or candidate who dares to accept this concept."

      Ding was born in Shanghai and is one of the most influential voices in the Chinese-language media in Vancouver.

      His newspaper columns have appeared not only in local Chinese-language publications, but also in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan.

      The B.C. Liberals have six MLAs of Asian ancestry in their caucus: cabinet ministers Amrik Virk, Teresa Wat, and Naomi Yamamoto, and backbenchers John Yap, Richard Lee, and Doug Bing. Eleven others with Asian heritage are running as candidates in the May 9 provincial election.

      The B.C. NDP caucus includes Harry Bains, Raj Chouhan, Mable Elmore, and Jane Shin, who all have Asian heritage.

      The party has nominated 20 candidates of Asian ancestry in addition to its incumbents (Shin is not seeking reelection). Three (Anne Kang, Katrina Chen, and Lyren Chu) were born in Taiwan and a fourth, Bowinn Ma, is the Canadian-born daughter of Taiwanese immigrants. Two other candidates of Asian ancestry, Harry Lali and Jagrup Brar, were MLAs before being defeated in the 2013 election.

      In the United States, the Congressional Black Caucus was founded in 1971. On its website, it maintains that it has "consistently served as the voice for people of color and vulnerable communities in Congress and has been committed to utilizing the full Constitutional power, statutory authority, and financial resources of the government of the United States of America to ensure that everyone in the United States has an opportunity to achieve the American Dream".

      The Congressional Black Caucus is bipartisan, but has mostly been made up of Democrats. That's because the vast majority of federal U.S. legislators of African-American descent have been elected as Democrats. 

      So what issues might be of interest to an Asian caucus?

      Funding for the restoration of the B.C. Human Rights Commission and funding to support cultural and sporting activities of interest to Asian Canadians are two examples.

      In addition, an Asian caucus might press for greater representation and more senior posts in cabinet.

      As things stand now, the most important portfolios in the B.C. Liberal cabinet (finance, justice, jobs, forestry, energy, education, health, environment, house leader, and deputy premier) are held by white MLAs. The same can't be said of the federal cabinet appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.