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Kashmir Dhaliwal defeat a difficult one for the team

November 16th, 2008 · 38 Comments

Many many Vision people, in the midst of celebrating last night, were talking about how disappointing it was  for them that the only one of their council candidates not to be elected was Ross Temple president Kashmir Dhaliwal.

Andrea Reimer called it a “heartache” that is a sign of a submerged problem in city politics. Mike Magee said the inability of Vancouver voters to elect someone who is a leader in his community is a sign that something is amiss in the political culture. And others just expressed general regret, saying that Kashmir had worked incredibly hard for all of them.

Kashmir, by the way, came in 11th, about 1,020 votes behind Ellen Woodsworth. Although he did better than any other Indo-Canadian council candidate in recent history, it still wasn’t enough to get him onto council. (On a cheerier note, Raj Hundal, on the park-board slate, did get elected)

Kashmir’s campaign manager, Jonathan Ross, posted this message in the comments section, but I’m putting it up here to make sure people see it.

Last night was a bittersweet moment for myself and many others that have worked tirelessly with Kashmir Dhaliwal for the past many months.

First, I would like to congraulate Gregor, and to say how happy I am to see new faces like Kerry, Andrea and Geoff as councillors…this is going to be a phenomenal team with veterans like Raymond, George, Tim and Heather.

That being said, once again, Vancouver voters have shut out the South Asian council candidate, and from my dozen years in politics, I have never seen the ugly overtones of division like I have in this particular civic race.

I am not sure if wards are necessarily the be all, end all answer, because at the end of the day, it seems to me that certain ethnicities can only get elected in Vancouver if they are relegated to certain sections of the city (a la Vancouver South federally or Vancouver Fraserview provincially). This is in stark contrast to cities like Burnaby or Surrey, where my good friend Barinder Rasode got elected last night for example.

There is much more to say, but the moment that will continue to stick out in my mind over this whole process is one that occurred at the Vision nomination that elected the slates of candidates back in September.

A caucasian, middle aged couple from the west side of the city came up to me and one of the candidates, and passionately and angrily stating that if people cannot speak “proper english,” they shouldn’t be able to vote. They also said how this was “our country.”

Seeing how I am an individual born of a mixed marriage who proudly represents both my South Asian and Jewish heritage, this was an incident, and an experience, that I will not soon forget.

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  • Dawn Steele

    Yes, this was a depressing, ugly side to the results. On the COPE slate, their bright, articulate young school board candidate, Alvin Singh, also trailed his colleagues – undeservedly.

    Ugly prejudices remain alive and lurking just below our mostly polite exterior. Sad to confront that after the historic results we’ve just seen south of the border.

  • Neale Adams

    One shouldn’t be too quick to suggest that racism is primarily at play for the dearth of certain ethnicities amongst council. There is some lingering racism… some people will never vote for a _______ (fill in the blank with various ethnic groups), but is that a major factor?

    People do vote for a slate, but they also vote for individuals. Kashmir Dhaliwal is a leader within his community, but not very well known outside it. Don’t get me wrong… he has done great things as president of the Khalsa Diwan Society and the Ross Street Temple, and I love and appreciate the Vaiskhi parade he and others present to the community.

    Years ago as part of TEAM Setty Pendakur was elected to council. He had been involved in many activities at UBC and had fought the Strathcona freeway. He had made a name not only within his ethnic group but also in the general community. He did get elected and contributed a great deal to the city during his term.

    Michael Geller is a leader in the Jewish Community, a past president of the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver. Are we going to say he wasn’t elected (and other NPAers were) because of anti-Semitism? I don’t think so.

  • anonymous

    I’m not doubting there is prejudice in Vancouver, and not just Caucasian against Asian, but aren’t you smearing a lot of people without sufficient evidence, at least in this case.

    Only 26% voted, and of those only a portion were voting Vision, so that’s not a huge number compared to the total number of voters.

    What about the support from the South Asian community…was it there? What about the average voter like me who was overwhelmed by the number of choices to make on the whole ballot, and eliminated people on the simple basis that I didn’t know anything about some of them?

    How many others were there like me or voters with their own reasonable explanations for who they chose or not, and had nothing to do with the heritage of the candidate?

    My sister and brother-in-law used to be a middle-aged caucasian couple living on the west side, and they would take offence to being put in the same pot with the individuals referred to above, who no doubt exist in larger numbers, but really…how large are those numbers?

    I’m not so sure that reactions like those above do anything to help. Perhaps, if people think there really is a problem with voter prejudice against South Asian candidates, maybe it needs to be talked about, but if you want to start talking about prejudice in Vancouver, I doubt you would end up limiting it to the South Asian community.

  • Frances,

    I thought you were spot on on the not-soGiant98 last night when you discussed this….unfortunately, the numbers for a citywide win are just not there.

    Personally, I do think that some kind of Ward/Citywide mix will be required to remedy this ridiculous lack of representation of a vital Vancouver community.

    Thing is, Southsiders just might have the remaining RedRump Westsiders on their side in such an effort soon, especially if the Big Tent does an even halfway decent job over the next couple of years or so….

    .

  • Here’s my personal anecdote on this, for what it’s worth. Until I got in the voting booth, I had not heard of Dhaliwal as a Vision Candidate (his name was vaguely familiar since I follow Vancouver happenings).

    I live in a very Cope/Vision friendly neighbourhood – and don’t recall seeing one sign with his name on it. This is perhaps a failure of the Vision campaign to make sure all candidates were supporting each other.

    Homes that volunteered to take a Gregor or Louie sign could have been asked to take a Dhaliwal one too.

    I voted for him for the reason that I’d like to see more balanced representation of the different “communities” in Vancouver, guessing from his last name that his background was not European or East Asian/Chinese. I didn’t and don’t know much about what he stands for, just took a chance. Other people might have been more organized than me, and already had their list of candidates with no room for last minute shifts.

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  • I dunno Wendy – in my neighbourhood his signs were very often paired with Ms. Reimer’s – and there were lots of ’em.

    One thing that I didn’t mention above is that Mr. Dhaliwhal and Mr. Singh also appeared to have split the vote in those last vital polls…..in fact as it came down to the wire (south central polls were some of the last to report) I thought Mr. D might actually overtake Ms. Woodsworth (see 10:05pm timestamp here if interested) but then he faded a little, which I assume was due to Mr. Singh peeling off a bunch of votes from him….

    .

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Bravo to Wendy:

    What contemptible horsefeathers…wards, racism, what a load of bunk!

    The suggestion that Dhaliwal lost because he’s Indo-Canadian is mindless, sorry…

    Did he concentrate outside of his own community?? No. Of course not, because there are enough fools to tell him that he should be a councillor because he’s Indo-Canadian. He should be a councillor because he’s worth the vote. So what does Mr. Dhaliwal do? He concentrate on pushing for votes from his own and a small contingent outside of his community and that’s it.

    There was a time, too, when many were suggesting that Belinda Stronach should be an MP, because not enough young women were in federal politics…well, we all know how matters turned out in that experiment…Canada’s most famous ‘Leafblower’ was an embarrassment.

    I like Kash, he’s nice man, but to compare him to the monumental talents of Barinder Rasode in Surrey is like comparing apples to exhaust pipes.

    Barinder went out of her way to reach outside her community. She intentonally and intensively worked in areas of Surrey that were predominantly white.

    Don’t even think of comparing the two.

    If the Indo-Canadian community want someone on council, start by door knocking in Dunbar, and Sunset and Strathcona, not just in and around the temple.

  • harjinder singh

    i fully agree with A G Tsakumis’comments. i would also like to say Dhaliwal was not fit for this job. vision was looking for indo canadian candidate but they choose wrong person. very little education, poor english, no talent, fails to get support from 50% of his own sikh community because he only approached so called moderate group. a person who does not even have support within sikh community. look at the results around south van where most indo canadian live.you will see all red NPA victory around ross street temple, rest of the east side all green VISION/COPE. where was his support?go to this link to see graph.

    http://vancouver.ca/electionresults2008/#20

    “That being said, once again, Vancouver voters have shut out the South Asian council candidate”

    not agree with these comments. look at raj hundal an indo canadian who got elected in park board

    http://vancouver.ca/electionresults2008/#20

    This map shows which candidate received the most votes in each voting division. (This does not include results from Advance and Special Opportunity voting as they are not tied to a specific voting division.)

  • Malcolm

    I look at this story another way. Kashmir Dhaliwal finished 11th, which means he outperformed the entire NPA slate other than Suzanne Anton. It’s painful he didn’t make it through but it was very close.

  • obscurantist

    I think there may have been a few factors in Dhaliwal’s defeat. Inasmuch as his race / ethnicity was a factor, part of that might have been the impression of him (or lack thereof) outside the Sikh community. I mean, I know that being a temple president means being a central community leader, and involves skills that would be useful at the council table. But a lot of people might not have seen this as significant – “okay, so he’s involved in the church, what else has he done?”

    Another factor could be his experience as a federal Liberal organizer. Again, that was one reason Vision recruited him to run – they wanted to broaden the organization so it wasn’t just a civic version of the NDP. But in general Vision voters rejected the people with Liberal connections who wanted to be on the slate, like Catherine Evans, Demitri Douzenis, and DeGenova. On election day, maybe a lot of Vision supporters didn’t vote for Dhaliwal because they were leery of his Liberal ties.

    Related to that, I’d be curious to hear whether supporters of David Eby voted for Dhaliwal. I did, both in the Vision nomination and in the election. I chalked up Eby’s narrow loss to Dhaliwal as a matter of being out-organized and missing out on Vision’s internal slate politics. But I gather that a few of Eby’s supporters became disillusioned with the process, and maybe some perceived Dhaliwal as being the beneficiary of a machine-style politics that they found odious, as well as being on the right wing of Vision.

  • Yes… Bittersweet. Some win. Some lose.

    Some get to finish 11th, like Kashmir Dhaliwal with an incredible 44,854 votes, posting the strongest showing of a South Asian councilor candidate since Setty Pendakur in 1972.

    Dhaliwal beat 9 NPA councilor candidates including 2 incumbent councilors Ball and Capri + touted star candidate Geller.

    If it was only a race issue of a South Asian block voting then why did NPA councilor candidate Daljit Singh get only 28894 votes? Why didn’t the Chinese block voters support David Lee and Kanman Wong?

    Same Reason: Lee and Wong were not out in the community. I never once saw them anywhere. Okay… so I didn’t attend all the all-candidates meetings, but I did attend many community events, and saw many candidates mainstreeting.

    First time Vision councilors-elect Andrea Reimer and Kerry Jang did an incredible job getting their names and faces out in the public. Especially with the stunt for electing a Translink board member. Geoff Meggs had been a city hall insider before as Larry Campbell’s executive assistant.

    Dhaliwal did incredible for a FIRST TIME candidate. His 44854 votes would have beat the 2002 votes of Ladner and Sullivan.

    In 2002, the only candidate of Chinese ancestry elected was Raymond Louie. Does that mean that voters rejected Don Lee, BC Lee and George Chow because they didn’t accept Chinese councilors? Former NPA councilors Don Lee, Daniel Lee and Tung Chan were immigrants who spoke with accents. So I don’t buy the accent excuse.

    Some voters want to save a spot for the opposition party. NPA voters used to save a spot for COPE’s Harry Rankin as a councilor to help keep the NPA in check. Voters this time wanted Suzanne Anton to be the token NPAer to keep Vision/COPE in check. The weakest Vision candidate was only 1000 votes behind COPE’s Ellen Woodsworth – still on the same COPE/Vision slate.

    Remember that Dhaliwal had beat out other hopeful candidates for the Vision council nomination such as David Eby and Heather Harrison.

    Hopefully next time, Dhaliwal will have more name recognition in the larger community.

    This time, look for Dhaliwal’s name to be put forward for the Vancouver Public Library board in the next week.

  • I voted for the Vision slate minus Dhaliwal, but it had nothing to do with race. I had heard good things about Michael Geller and wanted to throw one vote his way.

    The tough part was choosing who from the Vision-COPE slate to drop. Dhalliwal seemed like the weakest candidate on the list. He was the Vision’s last choice (barely beating out Eby) and he wasn’t endorsed by the Firefighter’s Union. It wasn’t easy to decide who to drop, but he seemed like the weakest candidate. I’m sure many voters felt th same way.

    In the end, I’m glad COPE’s Woodsworth got elected instead. I’m hoping two strong COPE councillors will keep Vision to their promises on cycling and homelessness.

  • I have a harder time accepting a racist/culture argument, despite the couple who went out of their way to express ugly sentiments. If it really comes down to race, then why do we see this kind of division in the electoral map? http://vancouver.ca/electionresults2008/connect/mayorrace2008.png

    We can easily believe that people vote with unreasonable and sometimes inhumane bias. What I can’t easily accept is that in a city and region where we see racially diverse councils, and with how close Mr. Dhaliwal came to winning a seat, that it all comes down to racism. How does this do anything but hamper Dhaliwal’s chances should he run next time around?

  • Daljit

    As a South Asian voter who lives in Mt. Pleasant I”m really tired of “our people” who jump up and down and cry foul, or worse, racism, when their plans do work out exactly as they hoped. Perhaps Dhaliwal should have realized that relying on the sheep-like block voting mentality of his community may work in federal politics but at the city level, you actually have to work. He should have realized that the Vancouver voters didn’t fail him, it was his party, who failed to get him and his signs, outside of Little India and South Vancouver.

  • “Mindless” is the man who pontificates without an examination of the past or the facts.

    I am not going to repeat the account that Charlie Smith has already written about South Asian candidates and their success rates (or lack
    thereof) in Vancouver’s civic political scene:

    http://www.straight.com/article/shred-the-system

    Tim Stevenson, whose base is in the West End, is known for campaigning dilligently in this area to pull his vote. This is similar to a number of candidates who target their strengths first.

    Alex knows this, but somehow attributes this type of strategy to the “Indo-Canadian” community.

    The experiences on the doorsteps, and throughout both the nomination race and the electoral campaign, is that a South Asian candidate on council…one without an anglosized name, one who may have an accent while speaking English…makes certain sections of this city uncomfortable. Just ask the firefighters…they did the same thing to George Chow in 2005.

    Raj Hundal, who I also worked with, is a young star who is going to make waves in this city’s political scene for many, many years. But, the fact is, people are more inclined to vote by slate when it comes to the park board and school board level. Even so, Raj ended up with the least amount of votes from the Vision park board slate.

    Alex and his Rugby buddies are great guys…I have enjoyed their parties more than once. However, his assessment of how ethnicities, and particularly South Asian candidates play out in the West Side of the city, is shallow and without much experience behind it.

  • Travis

    This is a really revealing discussion on the issue of race in this seemingly incorporating society. I did vote for Mr. Dahliwal, but only because I read about him the day before the election. I followed this election quite closely and I never heard his name before I sought it out myself. We can put the blame wherever we want, but unless the candidate gets out of his own community and addresses the city at large, it is going to be tough to gain a lot of support.

  • Dawn Steele

    Alex, COPE’s Alvin Singh did not focus at all on campaigning in the Indo-Canadian community. He was out on Main Street and Granville and Commercial Drive with the other COPE & Vision school board candidates (where the young women were practically swooning over his movie star charm, if that counts for anything!). COPE’s lawn signs & materials also included all five school board candidates, so that also discounts the “solo campaign” theory in his case.

    Alvin is personable, bright, articulate, youthful and demonstrated an extraordinarily grasp of arcane school board issues for one so young at the all-candidates debates. But he came in trailing dead last on the combined COPE/Vision school board slate, which was inexplicable unless you consider ethnicity as a negative factor for enough voters.

    Sure it’s uncomfortable, but IMHO, it’s an issue we should confront vs. trying to cover it up with ward-style solutions.

  • It is easy to accept that there are biases displayed in the voting results, but race is not the only bias present.

    There is an east-west bias. There are party biases. There are alphabetical biases.

    There is even, apparently, a lotto-style random vote ‘bias’. For an obvious example of that one need only look at Haskell, an independent school board candidate, whose campaign profile couldn’t attract a vote and anyone who’d met him at a trustee candidate forum would have to conclude the man knows barely anything about the school system. Still, through the (apparent) magic of the random vote “bias”, Haskell managed to get thousands of votes.

    And yes, there are racial biases or preferences. Clearly some communities are voting their tribe. How else can we explain the Haskells of this race, or that Sophia Woo – a complete unknown in all things related to education and our schools, who very clearly did not distinguish herself in public meetings, should pull substantially more votes than the sitting chairperson of the Vancouver School Board, Clarence Hansen?

    There is a solution for all this. Shine a light on all the candidates, in all the races. Good ones will triumph.

    How to achieve this remains a challenge. The media and their consumers the public unfortunately dwell on the big chair excessively to the exclusion of other contests in play.

    Parties often have their own agenda in controlling access to candidates. We’ve seen that in federal politics; political parties even in the municipal campaign have been known to sequester their candidates from public scrutiny.

    If candidates can’t stand up in public and speak for themselves, can voters really expect them to stand up for their concerns if called upon to do so?

    Sadly there doesn’t appear to be a public appetite for more information about candidates in all the races. No one is marching down the street with banners clamouring for “More Debates!”, and the voter turn out is embarrassing.

    Allow me to dwell on school board for a moment longer and comment that if Alvin Singh got more media and public exposure during this campaign, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’d be a sitting trustee at this time. He’s a truly impressive individual and there’s no doubt we’ll be hearing from him again in the future.

    Yet despite having a half billion dollar budget and being responsible for functions that touch 55 thousand school kids, over 100 thousand Vancouverites in total (one in six), not even the local cable company channel covers school board candidate forums.

    The only approach to combating racism in our city, our communities, our politics, is to shine a bright light on the proceedings. Maybe next time we can see more of the individual candidates and less of the mayoralty race.

  • June

    Nobody is mentioning that Ken Clement, who is from the Ktunaxa First Nation, is the first Aboriginal person elected in Vancouver. That nobody seems to be mentioning this milestone shows how invisible Aboriginal peoples are.

  • ptak604

    I voted for Kashmir, and thought he would make a great councilor. But in my heavily COPE/Green/Vision neighbourhood, the only sign I saw with his name on it was on my lawn (not a prominent one). His name was not in the media or in the community around here, and I was feeling pretty queasy that he’d be dropped from more than a few people’s slates. There was certainly a racial component to that, but I think it was one that could have been overcome by enough door-knocking on the Drive, in Kits, the West End, Dunbar etc. If he did not do that (and I apologize if he did and I missed it), the blame should land squarely on the shoulders of his campaign staff. The history of South Asian candidates makes it clear that even one as personable and talented as Kashmir was going to have work harder than any other candidate to get elected in one of the last positions. It might not be just, but the campaign staff’s job isn’t to bitch about justice-it’s to get the candidate elected.

  • clavio

    Pretty sure if David Eby had been nominated instead of Dhaliwal, he would have been elected.

  • Those of us not up-to-speed on the political machinations in Vancouver’s Indo-Canadian communities, Kash Dahliwal’s candidacy raised a number of red flags. The table throwing incidents at the Ross Street Temple, financial irregularities with the Khalsa Credit Union, the shenanigans of the Grewals in Surrey, and even the Air India trial made it hard to know what to make of a candidate who’s power base is non-secular. At the end of the day, I supported Kash because he had the endorsements of many people I trusted to know whether or not he was an ethical person of high moral character. There is still work to do in the South Asian Community to gain the confidence of the citizenry at large. Efforts by the South Asian community in the South Fraser Region to support Surrey Memorial Hospital and efforts by other South Asian groups to help feed the need on the Downtown Eastside goes a long way to easing concerns. While I wouldn’t decide an individual candidate’s worthiness by the wayward actions of others, I have to be honest about my reservations. I reckon my discomfort may be viewed by others as prejudice, but my reality is that it’s based on ignorance. The former is evil and the latter is lazy. Good luck Kash.

  • ETA

    Tsakumis, It is Clear that you are untrustworthy. About a week ago I asked where you got the polling numbers that you claimed had Ladner with a 3 point lead.
    As I told you then I had witnessed the actual polling results and never, not for 1 day of polling did Ladner ever have a lead on Gregor.
    And you responded by claiming your stats were valid, but refused to provide a source. So tell a little fib did ya?–The Election Results and Stratcom would suggest ya did.

  • Max

    It’s a two fold task.

    South asian candidates must demonstrate that they represent more than one specific community and be involved in broader community events. President of a temple in secular Vancouver is not necessarily a selling point.

    The voting population, caucasian – chinese etc, must be challenged on their preconception of South Asians. This is a dynamic community with many emerging leaders in various fields.

  • RichN

    For me, it was nothing to do with Dhaliwal’s ethnicity, everything to do with his politics. Like others have said, he’s a bit too close to the Libs. So I didn’t vote for him and many other Vision candidates. Was his ethnicity a factor in the election — maybe — but I really don’t know.

    My big disappointment was that Alvin Singh didn’t get elected as School Trustee – he’s a great bloke and would be a great advocate for our kids. I hope Alvin runs next time around, we need more people like him.

  • I also don’t think it was racism. There were just too many candidates for too many positions. Even after reading up and consulting others more knowledgeable than I, I knew I wouldn’t use up all my votes.

    Mayor was easy, pick one. My council votes were a bit all over and for parksboard I think I voted for three people. I think the closest I came to using all my allotted votes was for the school board…

    I certainly wasn’t avoiding South East Asians. I voted for people I’d met, or read about, and I thought deserved an opportunity. BC has had some noteable Indo-Canadian politicians and I’m sure there will be more. I was a bit surprised no Vietnamese of Filipinos were put forward, I hear those two languages a lot around Fraser and Broadway where I live.

    Cheers,

  • Helesia Luke

    This is a very difficult subject to talk about in an online environment. Nuances are lost and opportunities to clarify are limited. Having said that, I am going to weigh-in and try to convey my thoughts.

    Jonathan, I too have stories to tell about the hatred I felt directed at me on nomination day. This, in combination with problematic procedures, reciprocal deals between candidates, widely distributed mock ballot cards promoting only 4 women for 16 possible positions, and hate e-mail I received the following week from party insiders, led me to conclude that misogyny (by design and default) is alive and thriving in Vision.

    Arrangements between candidates on nomination day greatly benefited, in particular, the 3 non-incumbent Vision candidates who were ultimately elected on Saturday. The winners can thank Kashmir and his supporters for their nomination which led to their election on a tide of ‘gregormania’. But is that where the story of reciprocity ends?

    While I DO think racism plays a part in general elections, in this instance I am inclined to hold those who knowingly benefited from Kashmir’s nomination more accountable for his ultimate lack of success. Nomination machinations, in my view, smacked more of colonialism rather than a legitimate effort to support representation from the South Asian community. Surely, after winning the nomination, more could have been done to promote him and ensure he also benefited from the tide.

    Who decides what city council looks like when (mostly) white and (mostly) male political organizers ration representation? Or perhaps the more important question is: what could it look like when more authentic, community-based, democratic processes are in place?

    I ask those newly elected councilors and mayor if they intend to leave Vancouver’s electoral system in the same shape they found it or make changes that will allow for greater and sustainable, diverse representation from Vancouver communities.

    Helesia Luke
    Former Vision Vancouver nomination candidate for school board

  • Malcolm Reynolds

    Racism is certainly not dead, and it will never be completely gone. Personal biases will exist until the end of time.

    There’s been a leap of logic here though. Jonathan Ross has invoked racism as the *primary* reason for Dhaliwal’s loss, without offering a shred of evidence. Doing so is very much in character with a man I’ve known well in the past. One comment at a door doesn’t make it true though.

    On the flipside, I share an office with a guy from Langley who invokes race as the reason he wants his kids going to a “white school.” I would (and do) have legitimate concerns about sending children to a school where English isn’t the first language of most children: education tends to address the lowest common denominator, and such an environment effectively becomes an ESL school. That has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with communication skills (I have many friends of all races who speak English as well, or better, than I.)

    Race plays both ways as well. Look at the election results for 2002. Kelly Wong ran for the then nascent VCA Team party and received 18925. No name recognition, she hardly campaigned (she was a part time student at the time) and barely had a lawn sign up. She received 7,000 more votes than her nearest VCA Team compatriot: pretending her last name had nothing to do with it is disingenuous at best. There is a block vote there.

    Results are here:
    http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/newsreleases2002/CoVunofficialresults.pdf

    Race may well have played a role in Dhaliwal’s loss, but it was one of only many factors, and probably only a small one.

    I am personally gratified to see the Indo-Canadian community becoming involved in a level of politics which they have not been in the past. It can only be good in the long term.

    I note that Senator Larry Campbell received 80772 votes while Gregor Robertson’s million dollar smile received only 67598. I hope Gregor is only 83% as disappointing as Larry’s tenure.

    This city does need wards, incidentally, but we didn’t need 14.

  • vancouvster

    Alvin Singh should have got elected, he was unlucky to be both brown and new to the scene. That’s Vancouver for you. If you don’t think there are racist undertones to this city that affect these elections, you need to start talking to the people in different neighbourhoods (ie: chinese aren’t the biggest fans of indo canadians).

    My real disappointment was that Eby didn’t make it on the ballot, I think he should have run for COPE where he would have been a shoe-in, but I understand why he didn’t.

    If anyone from the Vision slate should have lost, it should have been Geoff Meggs. That guy is a bad bad man, I replaced him on my ballot with Wendythirteen just because I can’t stand him. He did everything in his power to stop the COPE/Vision slate and stomp out COPE.

  • Happy

    The fascinatingly strange part of this online discussion is that the speculation on biases (be they gender, ethnic, east/west or whatever) are based on “gut-based” speculation, rather than actual voter data. This article in the Vancouver Sun today (East Side
    Immigrant Areas switch from NPA to Vision, http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=be7720be-edcd-4f89-8f04-8c0337e53106) tells a very different story, indeed – and it’s story based on data from the election.

    Let’s be honest – politics is dominated by white men who are keen to hold onto their power and reluctant to hand it over to anyone else. The only way that is going to change is for women, persons of colour, First Nations , young people and others from marginalized groups to continue to stand up for nomination and election, and refuse to be ignored.

    But before we slay the enemy, let us figure out who it is. Do the research, understand the reasons for the results, work with experts to analyze the data, surround yourselves with members of underrepresented groups to understand and engage those communities, and be brave enough to act on the what you learn.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Firstly, Harjinder and Daljit are absolutely right. And coming from that community, they know better than the rest of us.

    To Jonathan Ross, the only thing I can offer is, it’s unfortunate that you still don’t get it (I’m not sure whether you’re actually capable or defiant, neither is acceptable–but perhaps explains Kash’s loss since you were runing him). Notwithstanding your candidate’s federal Grit organizer status (and I don’t see that as a huge problem) you DID NOT get your candidate wide enough exposure throughout the city–period. So stop bitching.

    I don’t have experience??? I’ll forgive your lack of knowledge of what I have and haven’t done…it’s in the past anyway and irrelevant. And I have no idea why you would take a shot at me for representing my province around the world in a sport I loved but can no longer play. You have some mental block about rugby? Poor dear.

    Kash would have made a super rep for the community, but more importantly for all the city, but just like others who ran from other ethnic communities, if you concentrate on only one constituency within that community and forget the rest, you lose. Get over it darlings.

    Dawn: I have a lot of time for Alvin too (and you!)

    As for ETA: I laugh at the fools who must manipulate the truth to serve their own ends.

    So we are clear, and you are somewhat less confused than you are now…Gregor, for the last one and a half months was steadily giving up ground to Peter. Gregor started 22pts ahead of him. I saw two polls (one before the comment I made that you refer to, and one after) one done by “Independent” “business” interests and one done by “NDP” “political” interests: The former had Peter at three points ahead (two weeks before the loan scandal broke) and the latter had Gregor eight points ahead. As I mentioned earlier, I was allowed to see the question(s), but not the rest of the poll(s). Therefore, I only referred to either in passing and did not put any heavy emphasis on either. At 24hrs. we are required to produce source work. we do not operate like others. The ‘Peter was ahead’ quote from my column of a few weeks back was completely sourced and entirely true.

    Reality is, Peter closed the gap based on Gregor’s very uneven performance of the last two months of the campaign…that the $100M loan to Millennium made evaporate in a fortnight. It is impossible to say by how much, but Peter would have done better without that controversy. It brought out the protagonist of failure in Vancouver, Sam, and reminded everyone of how not to be mayor and why they might have hated the NPA. Besides, Peter’s embrace of Gordon (totally insane messaging) as his politican of choice and the “Id rather lose an election, than reveal in-camera confidences” almost taunted the electorate to turn on him. You can’t do that even if you’re way ahead. Similarly, McCain said “I’d rather lose an election than a war” Okay! The electorate obliged. And thus, the NPA core vote had yet another reason, inculding Sam, and stayed home.

    Besides, Vision won because they clearly outworked the NPA. On election day the NPA were still using bloody antiquated bingo sheets and relying on runners, while Vision was operating a super-slick daily tracking poll and texting the results in on lightning bolts back to HQ. Efficient, coherent and the chain of command was ordered and tight. Exceptional campaign work.

    But back to the issue, Kash is a nice man who can run again.

    Vision will not be able to repeat this next election and they know it.

    That’s why all the excuse mongers (and yes, for the NPA, too) are out in full force.

    When you lose, lose with dignity, shut up, and try again. Or…go away.

    Politics is bloodsport, folks, if you don’t like it, go off a grow Chrysanthemums somewhere.

    You either win and eventually lose monumentally, or lose until you win, and in rare cases, you win consistently but then have to spend a million or so defending yourself on conflict charges…

    To quote the dunce, Ms. Ciccone, “I’m not your bitch, don’t hang your shit on me”…

  • First, Alex, I am very aware of your pedigree…a disgruntled former NPA partisan who is now a self-proclaimed “rebel with a cause.” How that cause is anything but screwing over your former mates, however, is still in question.

    I agree with the assessment that my candidate did not get wide enough exposure throughout the city. And for reasons that are certainly not necessary for public consumption, I will, unlike yourself, keep my thoughts on internal party machinations within the family.

    In terms of your chip on your shoulder regarding rugby, I find it humourous, considering that I stated that: “Alex and his Rugby buddies are great guys…I have enjoyed their parties more than once.” How in the world can that be interpreted as taking a shot or having a mental block?

    For the record, I remain a cricket player since childhood, and so the rugby community is one that I naturally feel akin to (if for no other reason, our shared clubhouse and history at Brockton Oval).

    Getting back to the issue at hand, your assertion that people who concentrate on one constituency cannot get elected is complete and utter hogwash. As I mentioned previously, there are those that have focussed on their strengths (the GLBT community, the Chinese community, the Arbutus/Kerrisdale/Dunbar corridor) and at the end, stood at the finish line a victor.

    If you are trying to suggest that a name like Tim Stevenson, or even Ken Clement (whose name might not necessarily indicate his mixed heritage, just as my anglosized name certainly doesn’t fully represent mine) isn’t more acceptable than a Kashmir Dhaliwal to certain sections of the city, then you are fooling yourself.

    To Brent’s credit, he acknowledges his ignorance about South Asians and more specifically the Sikh community, and I commend him for being so open and honest.

    His observations though:

    “The table throwing incidents at the Ross Street Temple, financial irregularities with the Khalsa Credit Union, the shenanigans of the Grewals in Surrey, and even the Air India trial made it hard to know what to make of a candidate who’s power base is non-secular.”

    are in my opinion, a far more widespread phenomenon than most on this thread would like to acknowledge.

    How Air India, or the stupidities of Gurmant Grewal in Surrey, has any bearing on the fate of Kashmir Dhaliwal, is baffling to me. Should Tim Stevenson, for example, be forever branded because of the actions of Svend Robinson? Of course not.

    The Chinese community does have not only the numbers, but also the benefit of greater knowledge and integration into this city’s identity. It hasn’t always been that way…Chinese people have had to face to the injustices of intolerance, and have slowly got to a place where it isn’t a prominent feature of people’s attitudes (go back east to Montreal, however, and the offensive classifications of “Hongcouver” still permeate).

    The South Asian community has not reached that place as of yet. And yes, maybe there needs to be more opportunities for cultural exchange to create that level of comfort. But that is exactly what Kashmir Dhaliwal has done for many years now…from his involvement in growing the annual Vaisakhi parade, to his work in bringing community policing to South Vancouver, to his inter-cultural work with other ethnic communities.

    The media in this city, however, stunts this kind of potential for growth and integration by their constant portrayal of Indo Canadians as gang members, or terrorists, or infighting savages who can’t get along with each other, or wife beaters. Rarely, if ever, do you hear about the amazing individuals of South Asian origin that have arisen to great accomplishment and status within this city.

    Anyways, I will stop now and let other respond, because I truly am interested in other comments. I am proud of the work that I did for Kashmir, and have no desire to make excuses or offer up justifications as Alex seems to suggest.

    I am just offering my opinion on the state of affairs in this city, which for a supposedly cosmopolitan metropolis, still has far more divisions residing below the surface than places like Montreal or Toronto.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Firstly Jonathan, I don’t pick any taglines, and am hardly self-proclaimed…I never asked a single news venue for a stitch in three years. I know that might be something tough for someone like you to take, but give the pea a rattle, it’ll connect eventually. I’m disaffected, from who?? Sam? Who lied his ass off to me and others just to get to were he wanted and then screwed this town harder than Bill Clinton on his first Avon lady? Do think it’s fair that there are so many people in this city that are destitute? Do you think that it’s a good thing that we have so many homeless, violent crimes, open drug dealing, etc?. You can leave a multi-million dollar downtown condo, drive three blocks in a $110K car, eat a $75 steak, and on the return, after it’s dark, watch people shiver and almost die in the godamned street. Nice town, eh??

    Grow up Jonathan, your problem isn’t with me. Go talk to some of your other Vision organizers who don’t think any differently from me. You lost, stop yelling racism and associated horse shit. When you’re the Captain, when you win, all glory to everyone else, when you crash, it’s your fault.

    I guess they didn’t teach you that in the Vision air cadets. Oh well, there will be a new flight manual soon enough…

    At least you admitted to not getting Kash the exposure a good candidate like he should have had. You’re the man, buddy boy, it’s was your ship that crashed, I repeat again.

    Secondly, I went off into a new career without lying about anyone, unlike some of your own. I call it the way I see it. “Keeping it in the family”? WTF are you talking about. I’m supposed to shelter the NPA because I used to sit on their Board??? I don’t work for them, in case it hasn’t occurred to you. Besides, Sam was a disaster. I have the right to my opinions as you do to yours.

    Tim and the gay community?? Kash and the Indo-Canadian community? You’re kidding, right? There is no comparison.

    The gay community are united, organized and mobilized (think Spencer’s run didn’t help?) They have friends ALL OVER TOWN.

    The Indo-Canadian community in Vancouver, on the other hand, have allowed themselves to be manipulated by federal Liberal operatives so much that they have been divided for years. It has left a very bad taste in their collective mouth. Many, even the moderates (who I support) will not come out. Pitting neighbor against neighbor and family against family sometimes??

    Plus, the political ethos in ethnic communities is to be insular.

    You have a fundamental misunderstanding of how that community works. They are people who are very honourable and do not want to engage in pettiness and BS anymore–they’ve been burned. Besides, they are mostly free-enterprisers and your candidate was running for a party that in the last two months has admitted that they will raise taxes, without having frst seen the books (although shifting the bruden from business to residential I actually support)

    Your candidate connected (pandered) to only one side of the community…and thus the results. tough job, I’ll grant you, but bad strategy on your part. Think of the pain they went through between Ujjal and Herb years ago. you think people don’t remember? You think they want that again? What were they supposed to do with Daljit?

    Raj Hundal is a totally different story. your bloviating about how people vote slates for school an parks is also wrong. Raj was an exceptional candidate, who I watched perform very well. His performance was heads and shoulders above your candidate, who is a nice man, perhaps too nice for politics. Ever think of that??

    C’mon now Jonathan…you captained this effort, stop the bitching, puuuleeze. the deck was stacked against you anyway.

    agtsakumis@shaw.ca Email me and we’ll get together for a couple beers and I promise I’ll buy.

    This is all meaningless anyway. What matters is getting people help and supporting every stakeholder at the table who have a real plan for bettering people’s lives.

    Vancouver is in deep trouble. Let’s pray fro real change.

  • Alex,

    That $75 steak you mention – would that be the same kind that Sam used to buy for you when you used to be a supporter? :

    http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/001682.html

    Once again, I am proud of the campaign that we ran despte trying parameters and circumstances. Yes we lost, and as campaign manager, I am not trying to shy away from anything. I will take resonsibility without hesitation. But for the things that were completely out of my control? That once again is a discussion for myself and the party, not for a comments section on a well-read blog such as this.

    For anyone who knows of my political involvement, I am not prone to drinking koolaid blindly. Believe it or not Alex, I have been just as outspoken as you against my own party (and I am not referring to Vision) in the past, and I have abundant proof in print that maybe I’ll show you one day over the beers that you have promised to purchase.

    Manipulation of the Sikh community by political operatives? Absolutely…150%. But that is not the cause of the divisions that you refer to, demonstrating that it is you, not I, who has “a fundamental misunderstanding of how that community works. ” Marrying into it doesn’t permit me that kind of ignorance.

    Despite what you attest, the mythical promised tax hikes that you and the NPA keep mentioning did not deter the South Asian community. In fact, one of the key strengths of Vision is in its reach into various ethnic communities, unlike your former party.

    Ujjal and Herb were never pitted against each other, nor do they represent opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the Sikh community. Herb’s riding association takeover (for which I was around for because I happened to be one of his staff) was achieved long before Ujjal ever came into the Liberal fold.

    Raj Hundal, like I said before, is a rising star, and as campaign manger for him as well, I am very happy that he is going to be around on Park Board for the next 3 years to show his considerable talents. That being said, knowledge depth of voters for Park and School tickets are never as pronounced, and thus voting along party lines is most definitely a reality for the typical voter that isn’t a political hack like you and I.

    Enough of this pissing match. Any other points I will make will be done through email.

    You’re right…there are some serious problems that Vancouver needs to fix, and it is certainly going to take a lot more than political rhetoric to get it done.

  • ETA

    Tsakumis, I appreciate your response and understand now that we were viewing polls from different perspectives, which likely explains the discrepancies in numbers.
    I also agree that Ron Stipp ran a fantastic campaign for Vision. It was incredibly organized and far reaching.

  • Patti Bacchus

    I’m dipping into this complex conversation to note for the record that I spent a lovely autumn afternoon door knocking on the westside —between Burrard and Arbutus — with Kashmir during the campaign and I saw him at several campaign events around the city as well.

    While all of us at Vision worked incredibly hard to get elected, I don’t know that anyone worked harder than Kash.

  • S Scalmer

    I’ve been reading bits and pieces of this for a while. I do agree that Kash didn’t have the level of English required to capture a diverse vote. I don’t think it came down to how hard he worked. I agree with Patti. I think he worked as hard as anyone else and harder than most.

    From what I’ve been told, Vision had originally considered China as a possible council candidate. Not the guy who ran for school board. I think he was the executive last term but I’m not sure what happened to him. Kash might have been an after thought since he didn’t run.

    In the end who knows. It’s politics.