Dr. Dawg

Money and the ethnic vote

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Kenney in gurdwara.jpg

The collapse of a hush-hush BC Liberal “multicultural strategy” should perhaps make us take a second look at current political outreach to Canadian minorities.

Federal Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney exemplifies the strategy. He’s an acknowledged master of ethnic schmooze, and drops good coin (ours) to plumb inviting vote pools. He seems rather popular, however, among the communities that he visits (which do not appear to include Roma, but that, of course, is another story).

There is nothing inherently wrong of course, with politicians and parties wooing voters, and segmenting the electoral market. The line between political campaigning and governments simply doing the business of governing, however, is getting blurred—to the point that there is now a full-blown investigation and a rash of resignations in BC.

On the federal level, Harper plays by his own rules. There no longer seems to be a line. Think the recent scandal over the CIDA website was a one-off? Better guess again. The media didn’t even blink at this one.

So it is that the Conservative ethnic strategy is being handsomely funded by the taxpayers, as it was going to be in BC by the Liberals. And the former are happy to share their strategies internationally. More than governance is going on: it’s more like tailored political proselytizing.

Of course, almost everyone likes to be wooed and cossetted by those in power, so there is no audible outcry among the groups whom Kenney has graced with his presence. But for the life of me I can’t grasp why they seem unable to perceive the blunt political cynicism involved—and, of course, the colonial district officer’s voice:

[Kenney] doesn’t like what he sees. In front of him, a dozen yellow and blue Khalistan flags are splitting the crowd near the podium, held by men fighting the hot early May sun in T-shirts. The man at the mic, speaking Punjabi, suddenly speeds up and radicalizes his tone. He speaks of genocide, of violent clashes and of the independence of Khalistan—a country that a faction of Sikh nationalists would like to carve from India. It’s too much. Kenney…crosses the room and exits as three baffled Conservative MPs look on, unsure whether or not they should follow.

At the bottom of the steps, Kenney puts his shoes back on and raises his hand as if to rip off the orange bandana that all visitors wear inside Rexdale’s Sikh Spiritual Centre. He takes a deep breath, and restrains himself. A Sikh organizer approaches, looking contrite. “You are trying to exploit my presence here,” Kenney shouts, his stare fixed on the man in a white turban. “This is not a civilized way to behave. I warned you, and you did it anyway. I am aware that you would like to entertain the Prime Minister next year. You can forget it. He won’t be coming.” The minister makes his way to the exit, the Sikh organizer fast on his heels, apologizing profusely. [emphasis added]

All that is lacking here is a pith helmet. The civilizing mission Political outreach consumes time and energy. But Kenney is more than willing, it appears, to take up the white man’s burden.

[H/t MChartrand]

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on March 3, 2013 10:25 AM.

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