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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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completing the mirror indo canadian representation in municipal vancouver politics

Completing the Mirror:Indo-Canadian Representation in Municipal Vancouver Politics

Kyle Warwick

Political Science 492

October 6, 2010

outline
Outline

1. Background

2. Why this topic?

3. Questions

4. Possible Answers

5. Methods

6. Key Literature

7. Obstacles

8. Questions and Suggestions

background
Background

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

background1
Background

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

why this topic personal
Why This Topic- Personal

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

why this topic scholarly significance
Why This Topic- Scholarly Significance

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

tentative primary research question
Tentative Primary Research Question

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...

additional questions
Additional Questions

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?

possible answers
Possible Answers

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?

methods very likely
Methods: Very Likely

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

methods possible
Methods: Possible

Comparative approach

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

key literature
Key Literature

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

obstacles
Obstacles

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

questions comments suggestions
Questions, Comments, Suggestions

All of the above are extremely welcome

In particular, is comparative approach worthwhile, or too ambitious?