Prime Time Crime



(Published in the Abbotsford News week of Nov.  8, 2004)


NOW The Liberals Think Ethnic


John Pifer


Ah, politics! When the governing Liberal Party of British Columbia staged its convention at Whistler earlier this month, the last such gathering before next May’s general election, few surprises were expected … and none were recorded.


The predictability of the supposedly-important occasion produced some pretty thin gruel, all in all, For example:

·        More promises, of course, geared to the current topical flavour of the month, such as pledging to ban junk food from school vending machines. Yeah, right—as if kids will suddenly stop wolfing down soda pop and potato chips, let alone Whoppers and Big Macs.

·        A well-orchestrated show of support for their unpopular premier, Gordon Campbell, pretending that he is not the prime problem that the Liberals have with trying to convince the voting public, especially women, to re-elect them.

·        Increasing financial assistance for the disabled, including a $70-a-month rise just before Christmas. This pre-election treat is a cruel joke, given the fact that Our Gordo and friends cut benefits in the first place.

·        A new pledge to provide free hearing, sight and dental testes for all BC children before they hit Grade 1, something that is long, long overdue.


There were other empty promises, but the one statement that caught this writer’s eye was Mr. Campbell’s supercilious sop to the province’s ethnic communities. When the Liberals were chided for not paying much attention to large ethnic groups, the Preem replied: “We do have to hear the message. We do have to reach out; we do have to include. Our diversity is our strength in Canada” yada, yada, yada.


Forgive the cynicism, but whereinhell has that ‘reaching out’ been since its token application just before the last election? Nowhere, really. There are no less than 20 ridings with key ethnic groups Indo-Canadian and Chinese/Asian – who, for the most part, have been ignored by government. Their power has been underestimated for years by the white majority, and it could come back to bite the Liberals in the butt, as it did in the Surrey-Panorama Ridge by-election last month.


Don’t forget that there are only a couple of Chinese MLAs hold minor Cabinet posts, and only one by an Indo-Canadian. Yet in those 20 ethnically-diverse ridings – eight in Vancouver, three in Richmond, five in Surrey, three in Burnaby and three in the Fraser Valley, there is no concerted effort by the Liberals to acknowledge, let alone to woo, the ethnic communities Bloc ethnic voting is a reality, and it may be that the Liberals will come to that realization with far too little, far too late, come election day.


* * * * *

This corner does not hesitate to blast the many examples of stupidity or leniency or incompetence in our (in)justice system, so it is indeed a delight to record some sanity and true justice when it occurs. Case in point is the Ontario Court of Appeal, which has increased the prison sentences for a couple who kept their adopted sons in cages in appalling conditions of humiliation and degradation for 13 years.


Initially slapped on the wrist with a nine-month sentence, the unnamed (and that’s an outrage in itself!) man and woman now have been given five-year and four-year jail terms by unanimous vote of the appeal court triumvirate. Even that is not enough for such behaviour, as this couple could be freed in only about two years.


Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at






Prime Time Crime current headlines                             Contributing Writers