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The debate over South Asian candidates continues

November 18th, 2008 · 9 Comments

In case other readers haven’t spotted it, there’s a fascinating and thoughtful (well, mostly) discussion going on in the comments section under my post from Sunday about Kashmir Dhaliwal’s defeat. To understand the complexities of race, party and civic politics in Vancouver, go read the back and forth

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  • I’m putting together a map of his support in Vancouver. Any advice on comparisons would be appreciated.

  • ptak604

    I did something similar, Brenton. Here is my not very scientific method: I compared Kashmir’s vote against the Vision council average in each poll. Because it is late and I am tired, I may have misread some poll results, but generally it looks thus:

    Kashmir outperformed the mythical average Vision council candidate in 4 polls, 91-94 (roughly 49th to the river, from Main/Ontario to Knight). He was close (very arbitrarily defined as within 50 votes of average) in another 7 -polls 22, 27, 80, 90, 95, 98, 102 (the last two are small Vision polls, and he bottomed both). Polls 80, 90 and 95 all immediately border his area of strength.

    Kashmir was signficantly below average in all but 2 polls north of 41st. He finished bottom in all of the top ten polls for the average Vision candidate (32, 33, 48, 50, 52, 74, 76, 86, 127 and 142).

    In the 10 polls that run roughly from Cambie to Victoria, Broadway to King Ed, the average Vision council candidate picked up 5267 votes (roughly 9% of Mr. Average’s total). Kashmir picked up only 4196 (and only one other candidate, Geoff Meggs, picked up less than 5000 votes in that area).

  • As the former candidate and now elected Park Commissioner, I would like to state that Ron Stipp, as our Vision Vancouver Camapaign Manager and Jonathan Ross who jointly managed Kashmir and my day to day activities, both did a formidable job and I look forward to continuing to work with the both of them.

  • ptak604

    The numbers show that Kashmir underperformed as a vote getter, and history indicated this would be the case unless something out of the ordinary was done. It wasn’t.

    Kashmir lost because Vision voters did not vote for him. This is something that campaign staff could have done something about, and campaign staff, especially ones who decide strategy, have to take some blame for that. If they did such a wonderful job, why wasn’t Kashmir introduced to potential Vision supporters north of 41st? Where was his presence in Kits, South False Creek, the West End, Mount Pleasant?

  • Dawn Steele

    I can think of at least a couple candidates with nice anglo names who hardly campaigned at all, who had no political background and who are virtually unknown outside a very small circle, but who were still elected handily.

    It’s highly unlikely that any single factor will ever decide the outcome, but I think the evidence is pretty clear that ethnicity as an identifiable factor on the ballot does count to some degree, at least for some voters.

    And when winning or losing might come down to a couple hundred votes, it matters.

    While a ward system won’t solve the underlying problem, it would at least raise the chances of voters having some knowledge of the individuals for whom they’re voting and reduce the confusion around these lengthy ballot cards.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Bravo to ptak604 for making sense of this.

    If there was racism involved in Kash’s defeat, then it was microscopic in scope and effect.

    I think people need to stop this nonsense, Raj Hundal was elected because he was a superior candidate.

    I watched all of them very closely.

  • ptak604

    I wouldn’t go as far as Alex to say that racism was microscopic-Geoff Meggs was also a weak candidate (actively disliked by segments of the Vision/COPE/Green vote, not a ton of on-the-ground visibility, underperformed the Vision average by a large margin), and he did finish a pretty nice chunk of vote ahead of Kashmir. Meggs did benefit from more press than Kashmir in the Millennium brouhaha, but it’s not like he was a pivotal figure there. I think there was some actual, honest to god racism in that difference (how much I don’t think anyone can tell you), though my feeling, backed by no evidence whatsoever, is that relevancy was the bigger issue. That lack of relevancy has some roots in the racial divide in this city, but it’s something more removed and brittle from active dislike by whites of people with funny names.

    I see in the other thread that Patti Bacchus has fond memories of a day of door-knocking with Kashmir. How much of this happened? One afternoon makes a campaign like a swallow makes a summer. Can anyone who worked on the campaign talk about how much door-to-door Kashmir did in the Vision breadbaskets? I realize there were probably other goals (like getting the Indo-Canadian community comfortable with other Vision councilors), but it would seem to me that history indicates this would be pretty needed to get Vision voters to mark his name.

  • david

    I disagree with alex on his comments referring to Raj Hundal. Raj did not win because he was a superior candidate. The main reason why he won was because of Kashmir. If Kashmir wasn’t in the race raj including other vision candidates wouldn’t have gotten nominated. Also when you run for parks board the majority of people tend to vote for the party not the candidate. Raj Hundal and many other Vision candidates should thank Kashmir Dhaliwal.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Nonsense. How do you explain Ian Robertson? There are always candidates who do betterbecause they are better.

    Kash concentrated on only ONE part of his already factionalized community (thank you federal Liberal Party–idiots) and did not get out to most parts of the city, concentrating on where he considered he could “fish” with success.

    It is a very common mistake for first time candidates and some returning candidates (like Elizabeth Ball and Kim Capri) who think similarly.

    Kash is a very nice man, whose group didn’t think outside the box, enough.

    Setty Pendakur and Hark Sara did…

    Get over it, Kash can run again. He should.

    By that time Jonathan will have had enough bar time with me that it’ll be much easier for him