SHEPHERD: In defense of Karen Wang

It took less than 24 hours for Liberal Party candidate Karen Wang to resign from the Burnaby South by-election race after Wang was reported to be posting ethnicity-based comments on the Chinese social media app WeChat to mobilize voter support. 

The English translation of what Wang wrote on WeChat reads, “If we can increase the voting rate, as the only Chinese candidate in this riding, if I can garner 16,000 votes I will easily win the by-election…My opponent in this by-election is the NDP candidate Singh of Indian descent!”

In her quickly-released statement of resignation, Wang said “I made comments online that also referenced Jagmeet Singh’s cultural background. My choice of words wasn’t well-considered and didn’t reflect my intent.”

Many denounced Wang as a one-off race-baiter who most certainly should have resigned. Conservative MP Michelle Rempel referred to Wang as a “racist”, and pundit Warren Kinsella said about the case “Suggesting that your race is superior to your opponent’s race should disqualify you from running for Parliament.” 

Wang, however, was simply doing the expected political move of appealing to people with whom she shares a common language and background, and pointed out that her main competitor doesn’t share their language and background. 

That is not suggestive of racial superiority or malignant racism. 

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, the most important person Wang would’ve needed to beat in the by-election, is indeed of Indian descent – why is it ill-considered to state that?