Canada, Ethnic Studies and the World

edited by Stanley Lee

interviewed by Stanley Lee and Yi Fang

 

We reached out to Kim Chan-Logan’s campaign initially as part of the profile archetype we were targeting for the 2017 general election in British Columbia. She has deep roots within this community, and has quite a heritage story as well. Even though this is anticipated to be a tough place to compete in for a BC Liberal candidate, her positivity could give the incumbent (Mable Elmore) a run for their money.  We reached out to her and a group of Chinese-Canadian candidates from the major political parties in an attempt to have serious discussions on policy position that have direct implications on the lives in the Chinese community in Metro Vancouver, whether they are first-generation immigrants or several generations from those who had first set foot in the province. We also discussed how we can improve political participation among Chinese-Canadians as well.

 

Regardless of whether we ask her challenging questions about her party’s potential vulnerabilities to her thoughts on ethnic and youth political participation, she maintained her positivity and discipline. The future is definitely bright for the BC Liberals in Vancouver-Kensington regardless of the result.

 

Before we get to the interview, here are links relevant to her campaign shall you be interested:

 

 

Here is our interview.

 


 

Neway Opinion: Let’s start with the easy question. Why did you throw your hat into the ring? Why do you want to become a politician?

 

Kim Chan Logan: Well I’m running in the election because I care really deeply about our future and the future of my community and I’m pretty passionate about making a difference for the people who live in my community. So I decided that I would like to run in this election to give voice to some of the issues of concern of the residents and in the community that I live in.

 

NO: What kind of issues? Because there are different ways to serve the community contribute to the community. You can be a businessman as a citizen we can do different things. Why do you feel that it is necessary to become a politician? Maybe become a part of the government? Maybe become a part of the Legislative Assembly in order to push for for the issues you really care about? Also what are the issues?

 

KCL: Well I agree with you there are a lot of different ways to contribute to society. And I feel that I do have the passion to make a difference but also the experience to make a difference so I’ve spent more than 20 years working in the business community as well as inside of government advocating for change within government. I’ve got experience understanding how government works. How can you actually advance positive change within government. And so I want to bring that experience to bear for the benefit of the community.

 

So some of the issues that I think are really important to Vancouver Kensington and certainly issues that I’ve been hearing on the doorstep talking to individual residents out there is you know people are fundamentally people care about the economy. They want to make sure that there is a strong economy to to support you know the creation of some quality paying jobs good paying jobs and also to be able to fund the social programs that we care about. So there’s you know there’s there’s lots of different aspects to that issue.

 

It’s not just about creating strong jobs but it’s also about you know being really judicious with our our finances so you know making sure that whenever possible we’re balancing the budget. We’re keeping taxes low especially when times are good or fairly good. You should definitely make sure that you’re spending within your means. Because if you spend more than what you can afford. Guess who has to pay for that later on it’s going to be the next generation. You know my son’s generation. I’ve got a four and a half year old at home and I don’t want him to have to pay for services that the current generation spent on today. So I think that’s why it’s really important to not only have to create conditions for a strong economy but also keep taxes low.

 

NO: OK so you mention “fairly good” you used that term.

 

Do you believe that the government has done a good job in the past four years? So if there’s something the government has not done enough, What’s that? Is there anything that’s not good enough?

 

KCL: Well what what the government has done a great job at is really focusing on those fundamentals that I talked about because it is so important when you want to protect social programs that people really rely on. So those are things like in my community mostly you know, health care, education spending, you need to have the economy that can generate the revenue to pay for those services.

 

So in the last four years B.C. actually has done a great job especially relative to the other provinces. So right now B.C. has the best economic record in the entire country where we were on our fourth balanced budget in a row. And you know there isn’t another province out there that can match our economic record. So we’ve been growing…

 

NO: So it’s all good.

 

KCL: It actually has been we’ve been doing fantastic compared to the rest of the country and compared to a lot of other places in the world as well. But you know just focusing in on Canada I think that we… like there is I really don’t have a lot to complain about and so if you.

 

NO: Do you feel BC or especially Vancouver is a affordable place to go but also some polls saying that many young people don’t.. One reason recent poll saying that over 100000 probably.

 

They’re [respondents to Angus Reid poll] saying in 2015 they’re considering just leave the province. Also there’s another poll I think claiming that about 48 percent of the young people that are either not very happy or very comfortable.

 

And from my personal experience many of my friends who grew up here they came here where they were searching for teaching after the graduate. They either go to the states or go back to China. So how do you respond to that? Is this really affordable or most livable place on this planet? And how do you keep the young talent here?

 

KCL: Yeah housing affordability is a really important issue especially for young people. And you know there’s no question that when just looking at Vancouver because I think you’ll find differences in different parts of the province. So let’s just zoom in on Vancouver.

 

You know…there are trade offs in terms of becoming one of the like in a cosmopolitan international city. Right? People want to live here for a lot of different reasons, for economic reasons as well as just livability and social reasons. I mean it is a beautiful place to live.

 

But I think what the government really has tried to do is look at some of the key issues around affordability and housing prices. And you know looking at how can we help people, especially young people who are getting into the market for the first time. How can we give them a bit of you know a bit of a nudge so that they can get into the market? And I think getting in – if that is your goal because some people actually make a choice that they don’t want to own property. So it’s not you know we shouldn’t assume that everyone wants.

 

So you know to give that extra little nudge the government actually created the Home Program which provides – it’s basically an interest free loan to help with the down payment. So you still need to obviously you need to still need to have a secure job in your own portion of the town.

 

NO: We have so-called housing crisis. Is this a crisis?

 

KCL: I think it’s a challenge that we need to work together to overcome. And I think there are a lot of you know the government has taken steps for example to try and dampen down the market a bit to prevent the speculation that maybe was happening before with the foreign buyers tax. So in the end it appears to have had some effect. Prices definitely have had stabilized since they took that action.

 

But you know the other thing that’s important to bear in mind is that government needs to make decisions based on sound evidence. And you know some actual like a fact base so that they know whether or not their policies are being effective. So it’s not. There’s no magic solution to any of this. But I think what they’ve done is taking a really well thought out approach to attack the problem in different areas.

 

NO: I’m sorry to interrupt. So you believe that 15 percent foreign buyers tax is effective so far?

 

KCL: I think that the numbers will prove themselves out over time. But just based on what I’ve seen so far it seems to have the market seems to have leveled off. But I know that government will need to continue to monitor that and make adjustments as necessary.

 

NO: Let’s just talk about the foreign buyers tax as an attempt to dampen the market a little bit. Now in the mainstream media and also even some number of Chinese political pundits, given how the mainstream media is covering this challenge, a lot of them are saying.

 

Many inside of the Chinese community especially those from China. I’m from Mainland China. So I talk to them a lot. They feel or they tend to think that this 15 percent tax is actually a racist tax against ethnic Chinese. And it’s another head tax. How do you respond to that? Because many people do think that way, including some of the transponders you hear from the radio talk shows or from the columns they wrote. So how do you respond to that?

 

KCL: What I would say is that when you look around the world – Canada definitely stands out in terms of really welcoming immigration refugees and I think even you know if you look at British Columbia we want more more people to immigrate into British Columbia. So you know one way to not pay the taxes actually come here and you know become a citizen of the country. So for me those two things don’t really make sense because we are such an open country and we do embrace other cultures. I mean look at the makeup of Vancouver I mean it is so.

 

NO: The intention of the policy itself is one thing for them. The other part is how people feel about it. How they react to that.

 

Is there a communication problem between the government and the Chinese community or if there is, is there something you want to do to improve the relations because of that perception?

 

KCL: Yeah. I always think that government can do a better job communicating to people. And I think personally that this premier has done… I can’t think of another premier that has done a better job at communicating with people and trying to reach different groups. You know she launched her own WeChat acount.

 

NO: A few months ago.

 

KCL: Yeah exactly so I always think that we can open up the lines of communication more. You know one thing that Premier Clark did was that she established an office in in China to promote trade and Ben Stewart was the first commissioner who served there.

 

So she is definitely thinking internationally and wanting to encourage more investment more trade. I mean Teresa Wat and the premier, they’re constantly going on trade missions you know to Asia, to South Asia. So I would definitely hope that people don’t feel bad it is you know something that is negative.

 

There is as you pointed out there are huge concerns about the price of housing here especially for first time homebuyers. You know they’re trying to get into the market. And if if there is that kind of rapid escalation of prices then it makes it even more difficult for people to get in. So that’s really what’s behind that policy.

 

NO: Let’s move to move on to the economy. Most people living the problems do hear Premier Clark a lot of people liquefied natural gas portfolio. So as a candidate representing the party how do you view it going?

 

KCL: Well I think that there has been progress made.

 

NO: Is there enough? Because the Premier really made a lot of promises four years ago.

 

There are some numbers. She mentioned about 100000 jobs by I think something like 2020 there’s a hundred billion dollar prosperity fund by 2020. Now most people do know what the status is so do you think the status would create problems for you as a candidate or for the party?

 

KCL: Well I think that you know only history will will be able to tell whether or not what the final numbers end up being but what’s important is to provide create those opportunities for people in the province to be able to you know have better job opportunities. I mean there’s actually been billions invested as a result of this opportunity with LNG. But the global markets are quite quite complex as you probably know so little time will tell what the final result is there. But I think it absolutely was the right decision to attract those billions of dollars of investment and it’s already been creating jobs and we’ve got one final investment decision already made with the Woodfiber LNG project.

 

NO: What’s your position on Kinder Morgan?

 

KCL: Well I mean I definitely think that what Premier Clark did which is quite different from the other leaders of political parties has set some pretty clear standards around what it would take to support pipeline projects and created five conditions for that support. And so you know part of those five conditions included really strict environmental standards to be met. So environmental assessments that needed to be completed and approved and that and the province actually did issue their approval environmental approval on that project. So there are a number of other elements to that clear benefits to British Columbians. There’s another one. And Kinder Morgan has provided I think it’s about a billion dollars and in benefits to British Columbians through their proposal. It’s you know marine response system and that and the federal government has taken action on that requirement and at that I have no doubt that if it weren’t for the Premier’s requirements that that went to wouldn’t have happened to the extent that it did. So I think there has been a lot of movement. And what’s really important is to make sure that our economy keeps running.

 

NO: Do you think it’s environmentally safe to have this project?

 

KCL: I think there have been environmental assessments done that has confirmed.

 

NO: So you’re confident was with that assessment.

 

KCL: Yes absolutely.

 

NO: Another question on that. Let’s just imagine what if people from your riding. I’m not saying it’s going to happen. Majority of them are against…they are against this project. Are you going to oppose your party’s policy on that? Because at these another general question is that where such issues if people from your riding they have a different view from your party or the Premier. Where would you stand? Are you going to you know go with the people.

 

KCL: I think it’s really important to, for me definitely is that with any issue that would come up is that you take the time to find out what people think and you listen to their feedback. I mean I’ve worked within definitely in business as well with some nonprofit groups where there’s a lot of disagreement around the table and what you need to do. You know you might come in with a certain position in mind but after listening to people you might find hey maybe there’s a there’s a there’s another way forward that we didn’t even consider. So I you know I don’t think it’s it’s ever a case of. One way or the other. I think that you know my priority would be to always seek the the opinions of the people who live in my community. That’s the role of an MLA is to listen and to represent the interests doesn’t mean that just because a few people disagree with something that you suddenly change and flip.

 

So you know an example if I may if I may give you a quick example.

 

When the carbon tax was first introduced in B.C. the NDP opposed it and I don’t know if people remember that but they were being vehemently opposed to it. And and today they have completely flipped. And the reason for that is that you know they were just catering to a certain segment that that didn’t like it. And so they went one way. And then today they’re going into a different away because now they’re trying to cater to you know environmental groups who do support it. And whereas the B.C. Liberal Party has been consistent throughout. And when the B.C. Liberal Party introduced a policy it was not popular. But it was responding to something that the premier of the day felt was really important.

 

So I think there is you know it’s one thing to you obviously need to listen to people and hear what they think. But it’s also really important.

 

NO: But you have to represent but you also have to lead, right?

 

KCL: You have to have values. So I think look what’s really important for political parties and I think this is what people want in political parties is a sense of their values and of a candidate’s values so that you can get a sense of where the candidate might land on an issue. So I’ve already told you that I feel that fiscal responsibility is important and balanced budgets and you know taxes that are reasonable so I’m not I’m not going to support a spending spree on a pet issue because it would make sense according to my values. So anyway that’s just to kind of explain the fee process.

 

 

NO: OK look let’s move back to that to the Chinese community a little bit. In this riding…

 

I believe here at least according to Elections B.C. census spreadsheet… I’d just pulled up some quick numbers. There are about 17000 eligible people here. About 4100 eligible Filipino-Canadian voters in this district.

 

She’s a Filipino-Canadian so we’re just curious that of course potential Chinese Canadian votes are important to you also to your opponent as well. What kind of issues or policies would you want to, I don’t want to use the term sell, present to the Chinese audience n this riding in order to make them to vote for you because usually we know that traditionally the turnout for the Chinese Canadians in general is extremely low. So is there any policy you want to push or is it an issue you want to talk about in order to get their attention?

 

KCL: Well generally speaking I am talking to people on the doorstep. I haven’t found that the issues that Chinese Canadians present are really all that different from issues that other residents are non-Chinese Canadian residents are presenting I think it’s because of the nature of the neighborhood that we live in. It’s a lot of families a lot of you know middle income hard working families many times with kids, some seniors, some people who have lived here for decades. So it’s mix. But at the same time there are but there’s lots of commonality.

 

And I really feel that for definitely the Chinese Canadian residents I’ve spoken to that the the health of the economy is really important. How we manage the economy and government finances is important because it impacts on their taxes and they don’t want to pay a dollar more than they need to in taxes to government. At the same time they are relying on certain services so for the young families education is very important especially for the older Canadians. You know health care is pretty important to them. So those are the the themes that are really popping up. Public safety is also quite important. So in terms of you know my message I guess to the Chinese Canadian population or in the community is just to for us to reflect on the fact that we haven’t always had the vote here in Canada.

 

You know my great grandfather actually came here in the late [probably meant early] 1900s so. He was I think a teenager by the time he came here and back then if you were if you emigrated from China back then you lived in Chinatown like you didn’t really have a choice on where to live.

 

And that Chinatown actually became quite a bustling community where people helped each other they relied on each other. They ended up you know by the 20s things were actually you know the roaring 20s. It was true in Chinatown too. They had a theater they had their own hospital. And my great grandfather ended up being one of the founders of the Benevolent Societies down there.

 

But then you know there was the what we know now is the Chinese Exclusion Act that came in 1923 I think and that did end up putting a bit of a decline on population growth in Chinatown. My great grandfather did end up going back to China. Those were my my. Well my grandfather was born here in Vancouver. But they all moved back to China. And my dad was born in Hong Kong actually and ended up immigrating back.

 

But I think that you know that that act was in place until as late as 1947. So we as Chinese Canadians didn’t have the right to vote until 70 years ago.

 

NO: So next two questions we’re going to ask every Chinese candidate here you see that almost every time whereas there’s a ethnic Chinese candidate coming out running for office they always say that “oh we gonna speak for the community” or “fight for the interests of this community” but especially the young people why people feel a bit frustrating is that they never give out content. “Speak for the community”? But what would you want to talk about?

 

Also there’s the issue we are we are witnessing here is that Chinese community is very diverse. We have people like you are the fifth generation Chinese-Canadian. We have people from Hong Kong from Taiwan more recently from China and they are from different economic backgrounds. So do you think there’s something we actually have in common? Or is it’s just it’s just like another community so people actually have different interests have different ideas? So we don’t we don’t really need to worry about that. So is this something the Chinese community do have in common or if there’s how do you lay people from different backgrounds they don’t really communicate that much these days. Is there anything you would like to do to make different groups to to communicate more?

 

KCL: Yeah I mean one thing that I am always really sensitive about anyone from a visible minority to sensitive about is not lumping all of us together because we are different people of course but one one thing. And when one of the main reasons I’m running is actually because there is a lack of representation of visible minority groups and women in senior leadership levels and in government. So proportionately we don’t we’re not represented within structures of government. You know if you look at the MPs in Ottawa or the MLAs in Victoria we’re generally under-represented and I truly believe that – diversity of opinion, thought, background, context is really important when it comes to decision making. It’s not only do you better reflect the reality of the communities that you serve you actually make better decisions because you’re looking at things in a different way. So that’s what I’m hoping to bring is that diversity of thought and actually just if I can inspire a few other people to decide to run just by the fact of me running especially women I’m quite passionate about women in leadership and advancing the cause of women I think I mean that that would be an achievement on its own. But if I can actually win this well and have my voice heard in representing the broader community that I come from I think that will be really really outstanding.

 

NO: You recommend young people to participate in politics or do if there’s a young man or young lady. Because the problem is that you know young people we’ve heard a lot of young people being part of such a search I mean your Oval Office in the future but this generation many of them didn’t believe in politics anymore. There’s no change what so ever. We vote we participate we volunteer I see all the volunteer pictures on the wall. So what would you say say to them because many of my friends are saying OK nothing is going to change? Why do I spend more time on entrepreneurship, you know? study hard, go out with friends so some [build] some skills or rather than caring about politics so much participate in politics. And there’s a change you have Donald Trump as the U.S. president. Either there’s no change or change for the worse in their minds. So what would you say to that? Why politics still matters?

 

KCL: Yeah a couple things. One is that actually when you don’t participate that’s when you get leadership that you didn’t necessarily want. So when you don’t vote when you don’t. You know exercise your or your right to say who you want representing you you’re telling someone else you don’t need to represent what I care about, what my values are because I didn’t bother to vote. So you don’t want to leave that decision in someone else’s hands because it really is too important to your future. I mean in the Donald Trump got elected partly because people didn’t turn out to vote.

 

If you kind of if you’re into politics.

 

NO: You’re talking about what have been Democrat voter turnout got really depressed.

 

KCL: Sure. So and I think you can say you know when when you have voter apathy then you may get representation you didn’t want and you can’t even complain about it because you didn’t vote. But but but more than that what I guess what my message would be to young people is that you know there’s lots of ways to get involved in politics. It’s not just about voting. You can volunteer in campaigns you can get involved with other different community groups who might be active in during elections but meet for me personally I started volunteering on campaigns in my 20s and it’s always been a really great experience for me because I did have access to people who would listen to what I had to say. And you know I’ll give you an example. I’ve got somebody volunteering on my campaign. She’s in high school and she just thinks it’s…And she’s a Chinese Canadian. She thinks it’s the cool thing. She’s actually super interested in what’s this world is all about. How do campaigns work. This is democracy in action. So for her it’s really exciting and I hope that there are other people out there who also would find it interesting.

 

NO: Another kind of opinion question. So why do you think, it has nothing to do with any party here, why do you think people, many people do have a bad impression about politics?

 

And when you say you’re a politician sometimes it’s not a very very positive term. Why is that? We have a democratic society. We have democracy here. How come eventually people are getting tired of the whole process? This should be a,.. If democracy is really that good. That’s great. How come the voter turnout. It’s for BC it was low it was around 30-ish percent. Turnout in this states is always lower than that 50 percent. Well what’s happening or is there something going wrong with the Western democratic system?

 

KCL: I think that like in this riding turnout was pretty low about 54 percent. I actually think some of the apathy is because we do live in such a stable country here in Canada we’ve got pretty stable economy. When there’s a change in government you can’t even tell. You know you’ll wake up the next day and looks exactly same as the day before because we do have very peaceful transitions in government and the economy generally does very well. So sometimes people forget that it’s important to participate in the political process. And yes there is a lot of cynicism. You know I think you you find cynicism about lots of different things and I sincerely hope that I can help change that if I’m able to be elected and that people you know would feel that I would be able to effectively represent them. But I think that there’s just you know sometimes when times are going pretty good, people forget that it’s important to actually vote and have a say and in what kind of leadership they want.

 

NO: Very last question. If people want to volunteer for you how do they approach you? Email?

 

KCL: Yeah absolutely. There’s. Which e-mail? I guess the easiest way is probably Kim [website] Yeah. On our Facebook page. Our Web site for our Facebook page. OK. It’s probably. And my contact info is on there.

 

NO: Thank you very much. Good luck. Thank you.