Getting heritage votes are critical in winning Markham-Thornhill by-election

将于2017年4月3日举行的,万众瞩目的Markham-Thornhill选区补选,将是对执政联邦自由党的民望的测试。在总理办公室高级助理Mary Ng赢得自由党提名战后,Bob Mok撰文介绍这一即将到来的两党之间的最后角逐,而如何赢得族裔选票将是决定这场决战成败之关键。
The much-anticipated by-election for the Markham-Thornhill riding on April 3, 2017, will serve as an indicator of the ruling Federal Liberal Party's popularity. In the wake of Liberal nomination that has elected PMO top aide Mary Ng, Bob Mok writes to shed light on the upcoming final battle that will see two opposing parties fighting to win heritage voters. 

The riding will once again be a “de facto” contest between the Liberals and the Conservatives as in the last election. Based on that earlier result, fringe parties do not have any realistic chances with this upcoming race.
该选区是2012年联邦选区重划时新成立的选区,在2015年选举中被麦加廉拿下。该选区内人口最多的两个少数族裔群体是华裔和南亚裔,人口占比分别达到35.2%和30.8%。除了少数族裔人口占比高达90.1%的安省Scarborough North选区,该选区的少数族裔人口比重为全国第三高。因此,“族裔”选票将会对此次补选的结果产生至关重要的影响。

The riding was created by the 2012 federal electoral boundaries redistribution and won by John McCallum in the 2015 election. The two highest visible minority groups in this riding are Chinese with 35.2 per cent of the population and South Asians with 30.8 per cent. This riding has the third-highest visible minority population in the country after Scarborough North, Ont., which has 90.1 per cent. The “Heritage” votes will have a significant impact on the outcome of this election.

One other important factor for any election result is voter turnout (percentage of eligible voter who cast a ballot). Traditionally, by-elections have much lower voters turnout than General Elections. In the last 3 General Elections (2008, 2011, and 2015), the total voter turnout figures were 58.8, 61.1, and 68.5%. Four federal by-elections were called on June 2014, and the voter turnouts were 15.2, 19.6, 29.4, and 31.6%. The low turnouts typically favor the party previously holding the seat in such by-elections.

Now that the candidates have been selected for the two major parties, let us look at their backgrounds, credentials, and voters. 

1) Mary Ng (Liberal) – An election rookie of Chinese heritage, she immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong with her family. Coming from the inner circle of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) as Director of Appointments (recommending personnel to government boards and agencies) , she was referred to as the “preferred” candidate, and many potential Chinese nominees backed out from the race. Other nominees complained of controversial membership cutoff dates and backed out as well. Only one other nominee stayed on to give it the appearance of a contest and Ng’s final nomination vote count was only 186. In hindsight, the drop-out nominee Ms. Nathan should have stayed and may even have won the contest. 
这一较低的提名得票数表明,其他候选人对伍凤仪的支持仅仅是表面文章而已 。作为一个并不居住在该选区乃至都不在同一个城市(万锦市)的“空降”候选人,她在该选区并没有政治根基。她对选票的最大吸引力或许只是来自于自由党的名声以及其华裔血统。她的获胜有赖于选民的高投票率。

The low nomination votes suggest that other nominees may have just been offering her endorsement verbiage and sitting on their hands at the same time. As a “parachuting” candidate who does not live in the riding or even the same city (Markham), she has no political roots in the riding. Her strongest attraction to votes may be the Party name and her Chinese heritage. She must also pray for a good voter turnout.
2)RaGavan “Thayan” Paranchothy(保守党)——在2011年联邦选举中,他曾代表联邦保守党出战Scarborough Southwest选区,最终得票数排名第二,以不到4%的选票差距落败于当选的联邦新民主党候选人Dan Harris。RaGavan曾是泰米尔电视圈的记者,后来担任过主管,负责公关关系和社区发展工作。

2)RaGavan “Thayan” Paranchothy (Conservative) – He ran as a candidate in the 2011 Federal Election for the Scarborough Southwest riding and came second behind the elected NDP Dan Harris, losing by less than 4% of the votes. RaGavan was a journalist in the Tamil television circle and afterward worked as a Director, public relations, and community development. 

There were four nominees in the Conservative Party candidate race with over 350 votes counted, and RaGavan won in a very tight race. 

This by-election will be a contest to get the heritage voters out. It will also gauge whether the public's honeymoon with Trudeau is over as he overspends the “deficit” budget and reneges on his electoral reform promises.

For the Liberals, is it possible to mobilize the voters from the 30% of Chinese population with their low voting turnout tendencies to come out on election date? Will the other nominees who dropped out be willing to do their best for the party? The Tamil population is unlikely to support them after Ms. Nathan's unceremonious exit from the nomination race. 

For the Conservatives, will the united Tamil population voters and their high turnout rate be sufficient to overcome the large number of Chinese voters with their low turnout rates? Will the other South Asian voters vote for RaGavan based on name recognition alone? 

For the other fringe parties, they can only continue to hope that electoral reform will come one day and proportional representation will bring them more seats and a stronger voice at the Parliamentary table.

This election will be closer than last time. The Liberals will not repeat a 50%+ popularity achieved in the last federal election. For those of us living outside of the Markham-Thornhill riding, we can only wait and see on April 3.

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