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article imageOp-Ed: The Powers That Be — Tweedledee and Tweedledum

By Zuhair (Kash) Kashmeri     Apr 29, 2011 in Politics
The Canadian Prime Minister’s recent infatuation with the large ethnic vote brought to mind a verse by T.S. Eliot, which adapts rather well to the Tory romance with these new Canadians.
With apologies to Mr. Eliot, here is my adaptation: Now that ethnics are in bloom, Stephen Harper has several in his room, and twists one in his fingers while he talks: “Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know, what power is, you who hold it in your hands.”
But as in Eliot's poem, if youth has no remorse and smiles at situations it cannot see, neither can ethnics. A photo op with the Prime Minister will be displayed in their living rooms or offices, pointed out proudly to visitors; but will it necessarily translate into a vote for the Tories in the May 2 parliamentary elections?
In answering this question my mind hearkens back many years ago, when I arrived in Canada. My cousin, an established Canadian, marched me off to a local South Asian bigwig – the first port of call for all new South Asian immigrants. The bigwig greeted me and then pointed to a photograph on the mantelpiece, a Canada Day (then called Dominion Day) picture of his family picnic, the members posing proudly with a smiling John
John G. Diefenbaker  M.P.  speaking in the House of Commons  Ottawa  Canada.
John G. Diefenbaker, M.P., speaking in the House of Commons, Ottawa, Canada.
Louis Jaques
Diefenbaker, who happened to come by on that first of July.
"So, you're going to vote Tory in the next election?" I asked.
"Of course not," he replied. "I always vote Liberal. I had been in Canada for only three years and already had a picture with the country's prime minister (Diefenbaker). In India, a policeman hit me on the head for trying to get within half a mile of the PM. All my family and friends in India have copies of this picture. "
But that was then, a generation of ethnics rescued from Gulags and Communist crackdowns and famines, poverty and hopelessness, beholden to the Liberal Party. Mr. Harper’s ethnics today march to very different drummers. There is a method to the PM's ethnic madness and a lot of theories have been advanced about his strategy, including one of divide-and-conquer, suggested by a Toronto columnist.
But it is insulting to suggest, as some have done, that if he does win the ethnic vote, it will be because of the access that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has given to the ethnic media, or the unspoken favours promised or divide-and-rule for that matter. Today’s ethnic voters are not the old “thank you for letting me come to Canada” immigrants. They are the ethnic version of the baby-boomers, part of a savvy bunch that has given its best years to Canada and believes in picking a winner. And their kids are even savvier. Or you have the latest arrivals, the young educated elite, the computer and finance whiz kids, seeking opportunities and success, and buying condos all over downtown Toronto and Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.
Bobby Jindal with Wife at Inauguration
This picture was taken at Bobby Jindal's inauguration. He is the first Governor of East Indian ancestry, a Republican who believes in the ideals of conservatism.
Carol Forsloff
Many young South Asians, for instance, are drawing inspiration from south of the border, from successful Indo-American names such as Republicans Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, and Niki Haley, the current governor of South Carolina, both quite right of centre. Not my idea of a role model, but then my voice is drowned out by the media, which frequently portrays them as the ethnic faces to watch in America.
In Canada, has it occurred to media pundits that Mr. Harper, may be on to something. The Census alone should tell us something. Statistics Canada is projecting a South Asian majority population in the Greater Toronto Area and a Chinese majority in the Greater Vancouver Area within 20 years. The centrist Liberals and left-wing New Democratic Party or NDP must think the PM is on to something, given the chase they have mounted to catch up with Mr. Harper’s whirlwind ethnic tour and its visual representation of costumes and songs and dances, an array of turbans, shawls, saris, sarongs and embroidered smocks.
It makes me dizzy wondering how he keeps up with all these faces and names that are quickly replacing the Smiths and the Jones. In closing, perhaps I can pass on what Vijaya Lakhsmi Pandit, a former Governor of Maharashtra (Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra) told my uncle who took me to visit her when I was very young and growing up in Mumbai.
He earnestly asked his former classmate from Cambridge: How do you keep up with all these attendants dressed in relics introduced by the British Raj: white uniforms and different coloured braids and sashes and turbans? How can you possibly remember the names of the two who are constantly by your side?
Very simple, she replied. The one on the right is Tweedledum and the one on the left, Tweedledee.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Canada Election 2011, Ethnic media, South asia, Chinese, Stephen Harper
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