Maple Ridge candidate becoming Green spokesman to Vancouver Chinese

Peter Tam (right)

Peter Tam (right)

The Green party candidate in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission is getting all the media attention he could ask for.

Unfortunately, it’s not in his riding and likely won’t affect the numbers of votes he brings in on election day.

Halfway through the federal election campaign, Peter Tam is finding himself the target of Chinese media in Vancouver who are looking for someone to speak about the Green party.

Tam is the only candidate of Chinese descent running for the Greens, a detail which has resulted in interviews for the Sing Tao and Ming Pao newspapers and the World Journal.

In the past week, he’s done between five and six interviews.

“The whole thing caught be by surprise, he said. “I couldn’t keep track of who’s who.”

On Sunday, he participated in a Chinese debate with a half-dozen other candidates on Omni TV.

That involved Liberal, Conservative and NDP Chinese candidates and allowed him to complete the slate by representing the Green party.

“This is an opportunity to relearn my Chinese language that I lost 40 years ago.” Tam was born in Hong Kong and came to Oakville-Burlington, Ont. when he was nine years old before moving to Maple Ridge.

He speaks Cantonese and used that in the debate, but said Mandarin speakers would also be able to understand him. While he can carry on a conversation about day-to-day topics, he worried about being able to discuss the more complex ideas of public policy.

While the interviews and media exposure likely will have little impact in mostly white Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, Tam sees it as his duty to provide an example to his ethnic group to become involved.

“I feel an obligation to step forward and just get involved with that even though it really doesn’t have a lot of impact on my constituency.”

He said the questions he takes from the Chinese media are the same as he gets from the mainstream and that he gave the same replies, explaining the Green party platform.

“I’m just taking part just to show people that we’re a multicultural nation and that people should participate.”