Richmond’s Chinese-speaking population is being asked to reconsider its voting habits, following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s early federal election call on the weekend.
Richmond resident Ally Wang, a Chinese Canadian writer specializing in politics and social issues, has launched a non-partisan website aimed at tackling historically low voter turnout among the local Chinese community and questioning people who only vote those who could speak their mother tongues.
For example, the Richmond Centre riding - which boasts the highest percentage of Chinese-Canadian citizens in the province – had the lowest voter turnout in B.C. in 2015.
Wang believes this needs to be changed immediately, adding that it’s vital for Chinese immigrants to participate in politics.
“If you don’t care about elections and you never go to the polls, how can the Canadian government hear your voices,” said Wang.
In addition to increasing voter turnout, Wang aims to send another message out to the Chinese-speaking community – don’t cast a ballot simply because the candidate comes from the same cultural background as you.
“Many Chinese immigrants are more inclined to vote for candidates who can speak their mother tongues or look Asian,” added Wang.
“There are many reasons behind this, but the most important is they haven’t done enough research to understand each candidate’s platform, so they ‘play safe’ by doing so.”
After talking with some community members, Wang found that language barriers do play a role in preventing many Chinese-speaking residents from participating in the democratic process, holding them back from understanding candidate platforms during the campaign cycle.
Wang’s non-partisan website will introduce all Canadian political parties and each party’s election platform to the Chinese-speaking community.
Most information on the website is written in Chinese and cited from the Elections Canada website and credible English-language news sites, said Wang.
“When most Chinese Canadian immigrants hang out together, the most discussed topic is how to get their children into an Ivy League school. Now we need to make them feel like talking about the upcoming elections and Canadian politics is fashionable,” said Wang.
“If you don’t talk about elections, you are outdated.”
The website will still be running even when the election campaign comes to an end, stressed Wang.
“New immigrants will come to Canada each year, and this website could be a great source to educate people about everything they need to know about elections,” said Wang.