My favourite ethnic meal is roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and creamed peas. It surprises friends when I tell them. That’s not what they think of as ethnic. Chipattis, egg rolls and perogies, are,
It appears that the term ethnic is relative. Basically, it means anyone other than the group you come from. And while my group was eating cabbage rolls, chopped liver, beet borscht and bagels and lox for Sunday brunch, the predominant culture in Canada, the one that doesn’t consider itself ethnic, was having a fry-up and kippers, instead.
The question of ‘ethnic’ has gotten Prime Minister Stephen Harper in trouble recently. It’s election time, and Stephen is courting the ethnic vote. Therein lies the problem.
Who’s ethnic? And how do you tell? By the way they eat and dress, of course!
The latter is what’s gotten the PM in particular trouble here in Toronto. With good reason. This video, "Eat It," a clever take off on Michael Jackson's "Beat It," will tell you why.
According to the 2006 census, more than 50% of Toronto's population (1,237,720) was born outside of Canada, up from 48 per cent in 1996.
I can understand Harper wanting all these votes. We have a lot of immigrants here. The problem is, everyone who votes has to be a Canadian citizen. They don’t see themselves as “ethnic.” Or at least not the way one of Stephen Harper’s staff members perceives ethnic when he sent the following email yesterday:
“We … are trying to create a photo-op about all the multicultural groups that support Ted Opitz our local Conservative candidate and the Prime Minister,” r
“The opportunity is to have up to 20 people in national folklore costumes which represent their ethnic backgrounds. These people will sit in front row behind the PM – great TV photo op (sic).”
“We are seeking representation from the Arab community. Do you have any cultural groups that would like to participate by having someone at the event in an ethnic costume? We are seeking one or two people from your community.”
Dumb move. Ironically, the invitation was received by an Arab organization recently defunded by the Harper Conservatives. The invitation might as well have said, “Sorry about that, but that was last month. We need you now. Would you mind playing a little dress-up for the occasion? You'll look kinda ethnic and the rest of your kind will see that you like me, okay?’
Gone are the days when ‘ethnics’ dress-up to make someone else look good. They’re more interested in having a political voice. Power would be good, too.
Cultural groups want to choose their own time and place for dressing up in native garb, playing balalaikas or bhangra. They do it because they want to, not because it’s going to win votes for a politician. Too condescending. And by the way, people wear clothes, not costumes. It ain’t Halloween.
So “Eat It” Stephen Harper.