Playing the race card for votes

Canada is officially a multicultural country.

But every now and then something jumps out at us to rattle our faith in Canadian multiculturalism.

What some Canadian politicians say in public discourse  may be quite different to what they may say behind closed doors with people of their own racial groups or  even on  social media.

Many  of us, immigrants, from places such as Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, are well aware of the race problem which exist in those countries and how it continues to raise its ugly head at  election time.

How different is the situation in multicultural Canada?

Well, only recently we  focussed attention  on the nasty business of  racism  on the election trail. Readers may recall our editorial and news report about  Elizabeth Terrell-Tracy, one of  the newly elected trustees of the troubled York Region District School Board.

During the municipal election campaign last Fall, Terrell-Tracey made anti-immigrant and racist comments about a  rival candidate, Lena Singh.

She had written in a community Facebook group message: ” Ms. Singh was born in Guyana. You are backing someone not born in Canada.”

Later, in a private message to a member of the group who supported Singh, she said:  “Crime is prevalent across Guyana. Assaults, break-ins, armed robberies, pickpocketing, purse snatching, theft from cars and carjacking are common. She is born there.”

Despite her racist remarks which become public,  Terrell-Tracy was elected but indicated her intention to resign. In fact she wrote a letter of resignation but later changed her mind.

At her  swearing-in last month, Terrell-Tracy was booed but as Charlene Grant, one of  the unsuccessful candidates for school board trustees, noted , the racial problems with the board are not over- not with Elizabeth Terrell-Tracey sitting as a trustee.

More  recently, we learned of another case of another candidate in multicultural Canada whose campaign  was tainted with the race problem.

Karen Wang, a Liberal candidate for Burnaby South in British Columbia in the February 25 by-election, was rejected by her party  because  of comments about a rival candidate – Federal NDP leader Jagmeet  Singh.

Wang was quoted in remarks made on the Chinese-language social-media platform WeChat as noting to her supporters that she is “the only Chinese candidate” in the race and identifying  Singh as “of Indian descent.”

Wang tendered her  resignation after her remarks became public and it was accepted by the Liberal Party.

But  she changed her mind  soon after and sought another chance to run for her party.

She did not succeed.

Braeden Caley, the Liberal senior communications director , said Wang’s online comments were not aligned with the values of the federal party.

Clearly, she had  embarrassed  the Liberal Party of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

With general  elections coming up later this year, we  hope that candidates of all stripes, realize that they can pay a high price for playing the race card.

Of course, they will pay that price only if they are found out.

Let us not delude  ourselves: Tribal voting  is not going to disappear anytime soon in  multicultural Canada.

And racism is still very much alive.

We  have a  major task  ahead  of  us  to stamp it out wherever  and whenever  it  raises its  head.