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Indo Outrage

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Here’s an interesting update on last night’s big NDP delegate selection meeting in Inkster: Despite his barn-burner of a speech, subtly accusing some NDPers of, at best, being snotty toward new members and, at worst, being a bit racist, leadership hopeful Steve Ashton didn’t actually pick up many delegates.

Early morning numbers suggest Greg Selinger got 61 of the 71 delegates up for grabs. Ashton got most of the rest, despite a focused strategy of appealing to the Indo-Canadian community and a rallying cry of speech last night.

For his part, Selinger kind of sat back, let Ashton vent about the low-level grumbling in the party, stuck to his "everyone’s welcome" message and let his army of volunteers herd the hundreds of voters, as they’ve done pretty effectively all campaign.

I’m from Alberta, where there’s a long and sordid tradition of gerrymandering suburban ridings with big Indo-Canadian populations and then signing up hundreds of them to stack meetings, especially Tory nomination meetings (the only vote that matters in Alberta, really).The East Indian community is seen as malleable and easy to manipulate.

When I was talking to NDPers over the weekend about that view, a very thoughtful long-time New Democrat noted just how offensively paternalistic the idea is, that folks from the biggest democracy in the world somehow don’t understand politics or the power they have as a voting block.

Clearly, they do. They made up their own minds last night and didn’t necessarily side with the guy making the most overt appeal to them.

Now compare last night’s turnout to the voting power of aboriginal people.

In The Pas, maybe 10 per cent of the almost totally First Nations riding membership actually turned out to vote. Not good.

And imagine the number of First Nations MLAs we could have from core area ridings like Burrows or St. John’s if First Nations were as organized as Indo-Canadians or even Filipino voters. Why doesn’t that happen?
 

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About Mary Agnes Welch

Mary Agnes Welch joined the Free Press in 2002, first as a general assignment reporter and then covering city hall and the Manitoba legislature before moving to her current post as public policy reporter.

Before Winnipeg, she worked at the Windsor Star and the Odessa American, a small daily newspaper in West Texas. There, in addition to covering more than 20 counties, she took high school football scores from coaches all over West Texas by phone every Friday night.

Mary Agnes is a graduate of Columbia University’s journalism school, has won several Western Ontario Newspaper Awards and has been part of two teams of reporters nominated for a Michener Award. In 2011, she was nominated for a National Newspaper Award in the beat category. She is also the former national president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

She once misspelled "Shih Tzu" in the paper and received 37 emails from angry dog-owners.

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