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Completing the Mirror: Indo-Canadian Representation in Municipal Vancouver Politics. Kyle Warwick Political Science 492 October 6, 2010. Outline. 1. Background 2. Why this topic? 3. Questions 4. Possible Answers 5. Methods 6. Key Literature 7. Obstacles 8. Questions and Suggestions.
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Political Science 492
October 6, 2010
2. Why this topic?
4. Possible Answers
6. Key Literature
8. Questions and Suggestions
20% of all Indo-Canadians live in Vancouver
Indo-Canadians are second largest visible minority in Vancouver
Very heterogeneous group; this categorization contains many sub-groups, Sikhs from Punjab being the largest
Somewhat geographically clustered
Indo-Canadians have faced history of under representation, overtly racist policies
In recent years, increasing number of Indo-Canadians have achieved high profile roles federally and provincially
Examples from City of Vancouver alone- UjjalDosanjh, Herb Dhaliwal, Kash Heed, Wally Oppal, Rob Nijjar, MobinaJaffer
Unlike Chinese community, this increase in federal and provincial representation has not been repeated at municipal level
I live in Vancouver (South)
Have been represented by an Indo-Canadian Member of Parliament for majority of my life
First hand involvement in my riding since 2004
Later became involved in civic politics – absence of Indo-Canadian politicians seemed glaring
Canada has wealth of literature on multiculturalism, minority representation
Municipal level seems under studied, both on ethnic representation and in general
Possible discrimination inherent in at-large voting system a running concern in Vancouver politics
Case study work exists in some suburbs – contribution towards picture of GVRD as a whole
Ongoing and unresolved debate about importance of representatives mirroring constituents
What is/are the cause/causes of Indo-Canadian underrepresentation in the governance of the City of Vancouver?
This is a complex puzzle – this one question triggers many more...
Is under representation equally prevalent at non-elected levels, as at elected levels? (advisory groups/managers vs Boards/Council)
Does a legislature need to mirror a population in order to legislate fairly towards it?
If composition of legislature is important- how to make it more representative?
Are areas/islands of representation clustered in any significant way?
Electoral system a likely factor –geographic clustering
Civic issues less salient for Indo-Canadians?
Delta case study suggests civic committee membership is predictor of electoral success
Possible unconscious racism of electorate?
Current elites biased towards members of own socio-cultural groups?
Continue broad sweep of literature for background (more on upcoming slide)
Contact City of Vancouver for primary sources (composition of senior staff, committees, archives)
First hand interviews- want to get broad cross section of real people
Community feedback- do not want to misrepresent/misappropriate voices
Considering Surrey and Los Angeles as possible subjects of comparison
Los Angeles has wards – useful in examining electoral system
Surrey shares at large voting and weak party system with Vancouver – achieved critical mass of population
Sharon Anne Petersen – MA Thesis provided idea for topic
Multiculturalism- Kymlicka, Taylor, other 390 favourites
Indo-Canadian first hand accounts
UBC connections- Ken Carty, Frederick Cutler, Juanita Sundberg
Kennedy Stewart- Vancouver electoral reform
Barman, Smith- Vancouver political history
Lightbody, Nylen, Davidson, if comparative view
Lack of deep contacts in Indo-Canadian community
Challenge of accurately representing views of very heterogeneous community
Space limits- topic leads neatly into other minority groups, and other levels of government
Controls for confounding variables- particularly if employing comparative perspective
All of the above are extremely welcome
In particular, is comparative approach worthwhile, or too ambitious?