Peter Liu: On rise in Richmond politics
Updated: 2015-01-02 23:55
By DANWEI BU in Vancouver For China Daily(China Daily Canada)
Tianjin native Peter Liu is active in local politics in Richmond, Canada. DANWEI BU / FOR CHINA DAILY
Peter Liu has been a phenomenon in Greater Vancouver's Chinese community since running for school trustee.
Liu ran under the Richmond First Voters Society (Richmond First), the dominant political party in the city. Liu was Richmond First's first candidate from the Chinese mainland to run for office. Although Liu lost in the Nov 15 election, he got 9,717 votes.
"We are glad to have Peter Liu on board to run with us, and we are sure that he will be a most important political figure in Richmond First for the next 20 years," said Councillor Bill McNulty, leader of Richmond First. "Peter Liu is the perfect candidate for us to bring the Chinese community together. As we are building a unified and harmonious community, we need a candidate like Peter Liu to represent one of the most important parts of the population."
Liu was born in Tianjin, China, and attended Sichuan University. He moved to Canada in 2002 with his wife and daughter. Like most new immigrants, Liu had some tough times but ended up starting his own company to export Canadian wines to China and to bring investment to Canada.
Liu's daughter is studying business at the University of British Columbia. His son, who was born in Canada, is in elementary school.
Liu is active in the local Chinese community. He serves as director of the Canadian Community Service Association (CCSA). He is also a member of the Rotary E-club of Lulu Island, a charity organization supported by McNulty, Kiichi Kumagai and Kevin Lainchbury, the existing members of the Richmond First Team.
"I see many challenges of our community, and I would like to act as a bridge between the mainstream political platforms and Chinese community," Liu said in his campaign platform.
Liu told local Chinese media site lahoo.com: "Elections are about choosing someone who represents you in mainstream politics. Our voice must be heard as a whole, as we have more and more Chinese living here. We cannot afford to be the silent majority again. If the Chinese community choose me as the candidate, I shall not hesitate to stand up and speak for them."
Many Chinese Canadians believe they are closer to having a councillor or school trustee from the Chinese mainland elected in Richmond.
"One day in my life there will be a China-born Richmond mayor," said Professor Zhou Nanshuo, a retired teacher and community activist in Richmond.
Richmond is an important destination for new Chinese immigrants. Many Chinese people choose Richmond as their starting point in Canada. They fly into Vancouver International Airport.
Richmond has an immigrant population of 60 percent, the highest in Canada, and more than 50 percent of its residents identify as Chinese. The city is known for its shopping and Chinese restaurants. Richmond has become the new Chinatown in North America.
Richmond City Councillor Derek Dang, also a member of Richmond First, was elected councillor in 1996. He is a third-generation immigrant from Hong Kong, speaking fluent English and little Cantonese.
"Although he is Chinese ethnically, we will not look at him as Chinese, because he cannot speak Chinese," said Councillor Chak Au, second Chinese councillor in Richmond, who immigrated from Hong Kong. Au claimed he was the first councillor in Richmond to speak Chinese.
"We are looking forward to the candidates who speak Mandarin and understand our background and culture," said Zhou. "Liu will be our perfect candidate: humble, intelligent and hard-working. English language and literature is his major, and he speaks perfect Chinese. Given more time and experience, he can win big."
The next municipal election will be held on 2018. Richmond First is represented with three council members and three school trustees.
"There will be 10,000 Chinese moving into Richmond every year in the next 10 years," Liu said. "There will be more people getting citizenship in the next four years in the city of Richmond. I am confident that Chinese mainland-born Chinese Canadians will be elected some day in the future in this city," Liu said to supporters after the election.
Shortly after the election, Liu started a non-profit organization called Bike Watch Society with McNulty and other community leaders.
"Safety has been the No 1 issue of Richmond citizens, and I would like to have more input into the community," Liu said. "I will organize thousands of young volunteers to safeguard our community and got more people involved."
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