The Hong Kong Chinese community is an affluent, educated, and swelling population in the Greater Toronto Area. The enigma is why they have only made marginal inroads into the political arena.
Olivia Chow, a Metro councilor representing the Downtown ward says 'this community has potential to be very powerful...it's nowhere near its potential.' Chow is the highest-profile Hong Kong expatriate to win elected office in the GTA. Others include Tam Goosen, Soo Wong, Carrie Cheng, and Peter Lam.
Many are convinced that the reason is because Hong Kong 'is a colonial place where they had no say in government whatsoever.' 'In Hong Kong, there's never been any democratic procedure until a few years ago.' 'Chinese culture through thousands of years has never had an elected-representative type of Western democracy system. So it's not a surprise...(Hong Kong) is not a place where people exercise their democratic rights.' There is a very common belief that you should not offend or challenge authority.
People have lost a lot of confidence in politicians because of poor examples provided by ongoing tensions between Communist China and nationalist Taiwan. 'We have to educate them and tell them politics in North America and Canada is very different from what they saw of politics in Hong Kong and China.'
Dr. Joseph Wong, whose community activism has earned him the Order of Canada, thinks that despite changes in Chinese attitudes, fear is still an obstacle towards political evolution. People are not afraid to demand for equal rights but the so-called mainstream politics and elected office is still baffling to the Chinese. The Chinese community's history in Canada also plays a major role in its reluctance to venture into politics. Following the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the federal government imposed a heavy head tax on new Chinese...