The Truth About Burnaby South

February 1st, 2019 | C. Wang
burnaby south

Pundits in Canada love to write about the meaning of by-elections. They’re usually policy wonks and inside-baseball styled legacy media writers and talking heads. In Canada’s politically correct culture, people are usually afraid to assess politics with raw honesty. Granted, democracy is a messy, irrational business and nobody fails harder at predicting the whims of ignorant voters than critically thinking political writers. They’ll predict their predictions and when they’re wrong they’ll explain why they were wrong. Useless.

For this reason, I won’t predict who will win, but I’m going to take a look at a few numbers and make some observations that you probably won’t get to read about anywhere else.

1. Mother tongue

The Burnaby-South riding has a population of about 111,973 people. The first language that people cite as their mother tongue is English with 39,585. The second biggest language spoken in the riding is (various forms of) Chinese at 35,560. The amount of people who speak Punjabi is only 2375.

Why does this matter?

Through the lense of identity politics, Jagmeet is a non-white, non-Chinese, Sikh with a beard and a turban. By looking at people’s mother tongue we can assess who would be most receptive to tribalism in this riding. Punjabi is grossly out-matched by English and Chinese.

But wait! Mother tongue doesn’t paint the whole picture!


2. Ethnicity

7,850 people in the riding identify as some form of “East Indian”. This doesn’t mean they are all Sikhs (many non-Sikhs from India are likely to vote against Jagmeet because of his religion and in spite of this ethnicity), it just means they identify as being from the region.

43,315 people identify as Chinese. This poses a problem for Jagmeet as he is running against Liberal candidate Karen Wang and Conservative candidate Jay Shin. It’s likely that Chinese voters are going to prefer to vote for one of their own. This may cause a vote split in Jagmeet’s favour, but Indians are still outnumbered 5 to 1 in the riding. Chinese voters may also be less motivated to vote than Punjabi voters in the riding. China’s lack of democratic culture makes Chinese voter turnout suspect, but still...5 to 1 is a big hurdle to overcome.

35,705 people identify as “European origins” which for the most part just means “Old Stock” Canadian. A lot of these “Old Stock” Canadians aren’t going to see themselves represented by any mainstream candidate and voter turnout is likely to be horrendous as a result. The people who bother to vote will be the partisans. Which brings us to...

3. Partisan politics

By-elections usually fail to get out the vote. Normal general election voters can’t help but to notice that a general election is happening due to media coverage and cultural chatter. People who never bother themselves with politics suddenly feel the need to vote. By-elections are different, because the locality of the race means no massive media coverage. Most people in a riding don’t even know a by-election is happening. Consequently turn out is horrific and the people who participate are typically hardcore partisans.

The big question will be... which partisans are most motivated?

According to a Mainstreet poll last November, residents were asked about their voting intentions. 35.9% of decided and leaning voters in Burnaby South said that they would vote Liberal in the upcoming by-election, while 29.3% said that they would vote Conservative. 27.2% said that they would vote NDP. Jagmeet (as well as the other candidates) was never mentioned in the question. This response places the three main candidates within striking distance of each other. This is consistent with election results in years past. Burnaby South (and the previous riding boundary which was Burnaby-Douglas) has consistently elected NDP candidates, but they always barely win with only 1000 votes or so.

My sense regarding partisanship is that the NDP are demoralized with Jagmeet as the leader. The schism between old left and new left is palpable and the undercurrent of this schism is identity politics. Old white leftists would’ve preferred a Charlie Angus or Nathan Cullen as leader. Many young Jack Layton NDP fans have gravitated to Trudeau’s progressivism. This leaves Jagmeet as the ethnic new left candidate that can’t mobilize enough non-Sikhs to win.

Jay Shin has the benefit of running under the Conservative banner. Partisan Conservative supporters are united in their hatred of Trudeau and this will get them out to the polls in a big way.

Likewise, Karen Wong was running under the Liberal banner until she used racial politics and got the boot. They’ll support her Asian replacement, Richard Lee, in order to virtue signal their support for Trudeau. He also has the advantage of running for the party in power, which is always helpful in a by-election.

4. Money

In 2015, Kennedy Stewart was the incumbent and he won with 35.07% of the vote. Liberal Adam Pankratz achieved 33.88% of the vote. Conservative Grace Seear got 27.11% of the vote. The interesting factor though is money.

It’s expensive to purchase an election and Kennedy Stewart barely won his riding despite having spent $177,796.68 on his campaign. This is more than the expenditures of both the Liberal candidate ($33,613.38) and the Conservative candidate ($83,392.49) combined!

Guaranteed that more party HQ money is going to be poured into this contest than during the 2015 election, but nevertheless, reports have stated that Jagmeet is having trouble fundraising for his own campaign. That says something.

Last week, Singh, who is seeking to run in a yet-to-be-called Burnaby South by election, sent a fundraising email to local supporters stating that just $1,918 had been raised for his campaign office, and $4,000 was needed in order to be able to keep it open.

His campaign manager told at the time that the figures were an accurate depiction of the MP-hopeful's war chest, but the send-out was successful and Singh won't have to close the door on his campaign office before the race even begins.CTV News

5. Jagmeet is a carpetbagger

One of the most important elements regarding identity politics is identifying where you’re from. Jay Shin and Jagmeet Singh don’t even live in the riding. What little respect I have left for representative democracy hinges on local representation. Without having that, your candidate is just another mercenary grifter.

“He supports LGBTQ rights. He married a well-educated successful working woman. He has no accent. He dances. If nothing else he will educate many people.” ~ poster on Rabble regarding Singh

My guess is that the “if nothing else” part of the above quote will come to pass. Jagmeet will fail. He will fail because not enough Sikhs live in the riding. Chinese people will support Chinese candidates. Whites will divide along partisan lines. The NDP is divided and demoralized. He’s a carpetbagger without connection to the riding. Money will be equalized this time as all parties will likely spend the (roughly $200,000.00) limit. Jagmeet is a new left, carpetbagger who only excites the wokest of woke young people and Sikh folks and this by-election will prove to be his doom. I wouldn't mind if he proved me wrong. If I'm right this will reinforce the coming of tribalism along racial and ethnic lines and our democracy is going to get a whole lot worse as multiculturalism grows.