Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Easy votes?

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B.C. Premier Christy Clark has been apologizing left and right since her Liberal government's plan to appeal to ethnic voters was leaked, but she still has some explaining to do.

The document apparently shows the government was going to use public resources to help Ms. Clark's Liberal party bolster its support among new Canadians, which is clearly inappropriate.

The B.C. document oozes cynicism, even if it makes a few reasonable suggestions about reaching out to the ethnic media, translating government news releases and identifying people who can speak on behalf of the government in many languages.

The document gets into trouble when it recommends breaking down the silos between government and party operations, but similar tactics are undoubtedly deployed everywhere. Manitoba's NDP, for example, seems to be constantly in election mode.

The other problem with the so-called Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan is the lack of any suggestion that the real concerns of new Canadians be identified and addressed.

Apologies and holiday greetings are fine, but what immigrants really need are policies that address skill shortages, recognize academic credentials and combat racism.

The challenge for Ms. Clark today is to convince immigrants she sees them as Canadians with real needs, and not merely as easy votes that can be garnered with a few trinkets.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 6, 2013 A10

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