Chinese Canadians are playing important roles in the upcoming federal election as they are very concerned about each candidate’s platform on major family and social issues.
Following the approval of the C-38 bill to legalize same-sex marriage in July 2005, the Canadian society has been continuously shaken by the increasingly liberal agenda on moral values.
In the midst of intense election campaign, same-sex marriage has therefore again come into the center of debate and a highlighted factor of consideration for voters, especially for the mostly conservative Chinese Christians.
Jubilee Centre for Christian Social Action (JCCSA), a Canada-based Chinese Christian social concern group, has launched a series of activities to help Chinese Christian voters to make a wise choice in the election. A prayer meeting and a workshop have already been held successfully on Dec. 15 and Dec. 17, where Chinese church leaders prayed together for the election and were mobilized to take part in the election poll.
JCCSA has translated part of a party platforms/issues comparison chart prepared by the Defend Marriage Coalition into Chinese to inform voters about the viewpoint of each party on some top social issues.
According to the chart, with regards to same-sex marriage, the Liberal Party has introduced the bill and only 32 voted against the bill out of the 133-member caucus. Conservative Party has the most reserved attitude- 94 voted against the bill out of the 98-member caucus.
The Liberal Party has twice voted against raising the age of consent for sexual intercourse from 14 to 16 years old and has refused to amend the age of consent for sexual intercourse in the recent child protection legislation. While the New Democratic Party (NDP) remains divided on the issue, the Conservative strongly proposed twice the age of consent for sexual intercourse to be raised from 14 to 16.
Concerning Euthanasia, the Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Colter is expected to introduce physician-assisted suicide legislation. The move is backed by NDP as well. However, the Conservative does not support the legislation.
In terms of child pornography, the Conservative wishes to strictly eliminate all defenses to justify the possession of child pornography. On the other hand, NDP supports the defenses whereas the Liberal Party permits the defense of artistic merit to a charge of child pornography.
By using the information, Chinese Christians are expected to cast a well-informed vote that could determine the future of Canada. In Vancouver and Toronto where the Chinese population is huge, their votes are very crucial in determining the final result.
The Christian-based Defend Marriage Coalition that consists of Catholic Civil Rights League, Canada Family Action Coalition, Campaign Life Coalition and Real Women of Canada, has declared on one of the handouts distributed to voters: "Canada’s National Identity will be affected by your vote!"
"Now is the time to fight the culture and ideology war! At the election, not after," it says. "The fabric of our society will be further torn, or will be mended, depending on the government we elect in the forthcoming federal election."
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) has also published an election resource to address the above important social issues.
Report from Reuters on Saturday said Chinese Canadians could sway the election as they refuse to cast any vote unless the country's political leaders apologize for a discriminatory head tax charged on Chinese immigrants from the 1880s to the 1920s.
The tax was originally set at C$50 a person, but later raised in the early 1900s to C$500- equivalent to about two years wages for a Chinese Canadian worker back then- in a bid to block Chinese immigration to Canada, according to Reuters.
Currently, the Chinese community is now pursuing compensation through legal actions.
The Chinese were unsatisfied with the informal apology made by Prime Minister Paul Martin during in an interview broadcast with Fairchild Radio in British Columbia on Wednesday.
Martin was quoted by Reuters as saying, "As I have said many times, do I regret this? The answer is yes. Do I apologize.Yes."
Yet, not all Chinese Canadians say they will vote according to their candidate's view on the head tax issue, according to Reuters.
"It doesn't affect me," said Kay, who works at a Chinatown vegetable market in Trinity-Spadina. "No one in my family paid the head tax, so I am voting based on the candidate's platform, not the head tax issue."
The federal election day will be held on Jan. 23, 2006.