Why do South Asians love posing with Canadian politicians?

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Pradip Rodrigues

Pictures of South Asians posing with white politicians makes me cringe. Most of those who go out of their way to pose with these politicians are usually new Canadians and refugees some of whom will name their newborns after them. Most Canadians are sophisticated and won’t swoon at the sight of a politician at an event or on the street, many of our federal cabinet ministers could safely walk down most streets in Canada and go unrecognized. So I get the feeling many are quite addicted to the God-like adulation they receive from immigrants, no wonder they are so supportive about multiculturalism. I mean there are thousands of immigrants who will happily put up pictures of their favorite politicians in their living rooms next to treasured pictures of their great grand-parents. It’s great for their ego and self-esteem and great because it keeps them getting elected come election time.

And of course there is the ubiquitous individual who’s a smarmy small-time businessman hoping his wife political associations will help him sommersault into the big league, make him an important ‘leader’ of the community or one day help him or her become a political representative, if not these individuals would much prefer being a kingmaker with influence. Very rarely will you see second generation South Asians importuning politicians of all people to pose for selfies.

Of course, associating with these groups and individuals comes with a price and will one day come back to haunt white politicians who willfully cultivate these corrupt individuals. We’ve seen several such instances in recent times and this is only a taste of things to come. All it usually takes is for politicians to wear traditional costumes, dance at a community event, reception or visit their places of worship.

But it isn’t just naive refugees who get their sense of belonging in Canada by clicking selfies with politicians, increasingly they include people with questionable backgrounds and un-Canadian angles. They use the pictures they click with politicians to bolster their credentials in the business and social circles they move in and it is not as though white politicians and their handlers don’t know that, but they find themselves compelled to conduct themselves that way because of a demographic shift in their ridings whereby ethnic minorities can now decide their fate. The only way to make a strong connection with these ethnic groups is to conduct themselves in ways that appeal to them. But they inadvertently confer legitimacy on shady community operators from different ethnic groups by regularly attend their events and advertising their support for individuals through photo-ops. They have created many Frankenstein monsters masquerading as community leaders and fixers who can be a threat to them if they were to change course suddenly and so the charade continues.

I was talking to a personal assistant of a South Asian descent politician who said his boss usually didn’t get the kind of adulation from the community. At many events attended by South Asian and politicians, the selfie-seeking South Asians will treat them like rock stars or minor Bollywood stars, they will rush to get their pictures taken with any white politicians in attendance and blatantly ignore the politicians of South Asian descent. This is really a blessing in disguise because those seeking photographs with politicians think white politicians are legitimately Canadian and assume that the brown politician holds outsider status within the party. There is no prestige in posting a picture with a visibly South Asian politician unless he is NDP leader Jagmeet Singh who is known more for his impeccable dressing and his views on Punjab.

The people who post pictures of themselves with white Canadian politicians on social media get the most responses from their South Asian friends and families who live in Canada and India, rarely will they flaunt pictures of them with politicians that look just like them and could pass for an Indian politician. No prestige there!

Many ethnic minorities, notably Indian and Pakistani first generation immigrants who can be seen posing with white politicians are not particular about which party the politician belongs to. It doesn’t matter if the politician represents Liberals or Conservatives or even the Green Party, the idea is to somehow one day subvert the party platform and inject their own demands, they are playing the long game. Politicians on the other hand are seeking short-term gain at the cost of ruining Canadian politics forever and ensuring that honest individuals never seek political office and/or will never win elections. Politicians realize that if they do not take care of their ‘brown’ supporters and ardent admirers, these same supporters could one day coalesce around one of their own and ultimately oust the white politician.

The kind of immigrants back in the day wanting to be photographed with their favorite politicians rarely aspired to become political leaders, they were happy to be associated with politicians who could be called upon to expedite visas for their families ‘back home’. Today however, immigrants, even those who’ve been here less than ten years, often aspire to become politicians, often fashioning themselves into the kind of politicians they encountered back in their home countries. And one way to get into politics is to constantly rub shoulders with them, have pictures taken with them and one day hope to replace them. Canadian politics is now beginning to get a distinct third-world feel about it.

PM Trudeau’s India debacle is rightly panned, but it has exposed the ugly hidden truth about Canadian politics. It is also clear that all political parties are guilty of practices that can one day destroy the political system of this country.

It also shows that these white politicians who self-righteously proclaim their commitment to multiculturalism are really simply using it as a cover to remain in power and barter away all things Canadians value starting with its passport. -CINEWS

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