Canada, Ethnic Studies and the World

edited by Stanley Lee

video by Bing Liu

interviewed by Stanley Lee and Yi Fang

We last brushed upon our interview with Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism. She is running for re-election with the BC Liberals in Richmond-North Centre. 

In this article, she shared her thoughts on public opinion on the status of campaign financing, the BC Liberal’s property transfer tax for foreign buyers, and youth and ethnic political participation. 

Once again, we will show you the video clips with the English transcription. And here are links relevant to her campaign shall you be interested:

 

 

Neway Opinion: Are you concerned about the BC Liberal’s image being hampered by public perception on the campaign financing situation, especially according to an Angus poll saying that 3 out of 4 people believe the BC Liberals only work for its donors?

 

Teresa Wat: If you go back to 2013 and look at all the opinion polls, saying that BC Liberal would not have won the elections.

 

NO: Yes.

 

TW: Even my friends are also surprised, and all my friends said something about leaving BC because they thought the NDP was going to win because nobody wants NDP in power, those who worked for the ‘90s. Then what’s the result? So, I answer your question, okay?

 

NO: How would you respond to criticisms from commentators about the “racist” nature of the 15% foreign buyer tax?

 

TW: Are you assuming that this tax targets people who look like you? I want to let you know that Hong Kong also has measures targeting against foreigners buying their real estate with a surcharge tax. Singapore also has this surcharge tax. Britain doesn’t even allow foreigners to buy real estate. Mainland China also has measures and restrictions against foreigners buying real estate. Have you noticed that many of such critics are from Mainland China themselves? Are you going to say the Chinese government is unfair to foreign ethnic-Chinese? You don’t have to pay this tax as long as you’re a citizen or permanent resident. This tax targets foreigners, including many buyers from the Middle East and the United States. I think many of these Chinese critics are making false assumptions, as this tax is designed to protect local residents, so that foreigners don’t speculate the real estate market so much that locals can’t buy here. 

 

 

NO: The Chinese newcomer community is known to have lower voter turnout than many other communities. In 2013, such turnout was hovering around 30%. Do you have any comments on improving the turnout?

 

TW: Newcomers have to adjust to many new things as they arrive in a new country. For example, unless they are already independently wealthy, they have to look for work or start a new business. They are often financially broke in their early days here, so understanding what’s going on here is difficult especially with limited English comprehension. Nowadays it’s a little better with the wealth of Chinese media channels here, so you can understand current events here even without significant English skills, whether it’s through the newspaper, radio, or television. Before we criticize newcomers, we should be more empathetic to their situation during their early days here, especially without any friends or family here. They have to look for work, housing accommodation, and education for their children, so they likely won’t have any remaining bandwidth to care about the political climate. 

 

Patience is required for them to slowly consume the media here and learn voting is a responsibility and a privilege. I think the media’s role is very important. As an elected official I always talk about it whenever I have a chance to speak to the public. We need everyone’s contribution on this. hence I’m happy to see you young people approach me for the interview. Last election, as an ethnic Chinese candidate from a major party with the competing candidate from the opposition party also coming from Mainland China, I’m disappointed about the low voter turnout despite the number of ethnic Chinese candidates across the province as well as within this riding. I hope the efforts over the years can inspire the Chinese-Canadians that it’s possible to elect Chinese-Canadian candidates into the legislature. I hope I could help elevate the position of Chinese-Canadians. 

 

At the same time, voters have to be vigilant. You don’t necessarily have to vote for a Chinese-Canadian candidate as a Chinese-Canadian yourself, as you also need to take their capabilities and motivations into consideration. The political party is also very important, because if the candidate is capable but represent a party that doesn’t represent you…

 

For example, if the candidate is representing the NDP, the party only works for the union. Unless you have children who have union jobs, would you vote for the NDP? If the NDP gets elected into government, they will definitely increase wages for union workers, and permit them to go on strike. In the 1990s, public school teachers frequently go on strike, causing children not being able to attend school, garbage bins remain unattended. Unless you like this situation…

 

So in the provincial, the political party is very important along with the candidate. So you have to be vigilant at the ballot box. 

 

NO: Why should young people get involved in politics, considering things rarely change and once they happen, it could be as risky as having Donald Trump as the US president? Why not spend more time on others things such as building a business, acquiring skills, or entertainment?

 

TW: Because politics, you don’t want to get involved in it, it will involve you. For example, if you have a certain, an issue that you wanted before, but if you don’t vote, how are you going to make your voices known?

 

NO: yeah.

 

TW: Because any single party, as far as NDP, Green Party, or BC Liberal, they will look at the voting public because whatever vision we have, whatever idea we have, if you don’t get out to vote for us, we will never be in government, right? Any party – BC Liberal or NDP ‑ will look at whoever is active in voting. They will try to represent their interest. That’s only natural.

 

If any party will see that the young people don’t come over and vote, they won’t look at all the young people, right? Why should I care about you if don’t even want to express your interest? All the more that young people have to make their noises and to make their right, exercise their right so that all political parties understand that young people are interested in politics and young people want to make their concern known to any political party.