Results for municipal elections 2010 are out. The biggest surprise of the election eve was the victory of Mr. Rob Ford, Toronto’s Mayor-elect by more than 93,000 votes.
What was not so surprising was the victory of only one South Asian, Harinder Malhi. Harinder ran for a position of public school aboard trustee in Wards 9 and 10 of Brampton. Councillor Vic Dhillon was re-elected with more than 55% votes in Wards 9 and 10 of Brampton. Councillor Max Khan won by more than 55 per cent votes from Oakville. Councillor Logan Kanapthi has also been re-elected with ease. With over 125 South Asian candidates in the GTA, only 4 have been elected.
And Generation Next’s last edition’s cover had already reflected that if we don’t unite as a South Asian community, there is no hope for South Asian leadership in City Halls and Town Halls of the GTA.
We must sit and ponder why.
In the wake of the current election results, many are suggesting that the concept of strategic voting is no more relevant. This is not accurate. If Mr. Mohammed Dhanani was the only South Asian on the ballot in Ward 26 of Toronto, he would have won with a narrow margin. If Harkanwal Thind was the only Desi on ballot for a regional councillor of Brampton for Wards 9 & 10, incumbent Regional Councillor Frank Sprovieri might not have won with the lead he got. The voter turnout in this area of Brampton is more than 39 per cent, a higher average than the rest of the City.
What must also be realized is that not being South Asian is not enough. What’s important is to understand the issues, volunteer in political campaigns, learn from the masters and run a clean, focused campaign that has broader outreach than just South Asians.
As we have said before, South Asian candidates and elected officials alike must change their attitude of feeling superior than the people they represent. They must be modest and give an impression of listening to all and everyone’s concerns. We have been told that some South Asian candidates took a different tone when they were speaking to someone who cannot speak fluent English, and behaved entirely differently when they were communicating with someone who can speak flawless English.
If this election has taught us anything, it’s this: Do not take voters for granted. Polls can say whatever they like, media can have favourite candidates, but it all comes down to candidates’ message and how people have taken it.