Why a growing number of Asian candidates are running for office in Brossard

·4 min read
A poster for independent city council candidate Trang K. Le Tran can be seen above signs for Coalition Brossard mayoral candidate Michel Gervais and council candidate Xixi Li in Brossard, Que. (Matt D'Amours/CBC - image credit)
A poster for independent city council candidate Trang K. Le Tran can be seen above signs for Coalition Brossard mayoral candidate Michel Gervais and council candidate Xixi Li in Brossard, Que. (Matt D'Amours/CBC - image credit)

In a Brossard, Que., restaurant on a busy Tuesday night, Manh Nguyen, Trang K. Le Tran and Jin Kim are looking over their menus.

The friends have gotten together to share a meal, but they're also sharing something else: an ambition to be city councillors.

They're part of a growing field of Asian candidates in the city on Montreal's South Shore.

"What we're trying to do is really speak up, and take a place in society," said Nguyen, an independent candidate of Vietnamese descent in district nine.

Matt D'Amours/CBC
Matt D'Amours/CBC

"We are in Quebec, Brossard is our city, and we need to be properly represented in city council."

In Brossard's 2017 municipal election, CBC counted four candidates of Asian descent. In 2021, that number has doubled to eight candidates.

That accounts for about one in five of those running for office, roughly the same proportion of Asian people among Brossard's roughly 86,000 citizens.

'For the younger generation'

The Centre Sino-Quebec de la Rive-Sud's executive director, Xixi Li, is in her second campaign for a council seat in Brossard.

The Coalition Brossard candidate for district eight has lived in the city for more than 20 years, and Li doesn't think there's ever been this much Asian representation in an election here.

Matt D'Amours
Matt D'Amours

But she isn't surprised it's happening now, given the present cultural diversity in Brossard.

"That is normal, that more and more candidates from different backgrounds, of different cultural communities, run for the election," she said.

Many of these candidates are running their first municipal campaigns this year, including Le Tran.

The independent candidate for district eight says she was motivated to run in part because she didn't see many Vietnamese candidates in elected office.

Matt D'Amours/CBC
Matt D'Amours/CBC

"I'm doing it also for the younger generation, to prove to them that: you can do it," Le Tran said.

She's concerned about how Brossard is being developed, and has heard from many residents who are upset with taller buildings going up in the city.

Brossard's character is a concern for Kim, too. The Coalition Brossard candidate for district one says he's preoccupied with what the city will look like for his three young children in the decades to come.

"I don't really see a future for them, with all the prices of the housing that keep rising, on top of the services diminishing, and the schools getting packed," said Kim.

Matt D'Amours/CBC
Matt D'Amours/CBC

"I've decided to run for city councillor to provide them a better future."

The candidates who spoke to CBC News listed several issues important to them in this campaign, including public security, the quality of city services and diversity in Brossard's municipal workforce.

"[For] hiring, we should always keep in perspective the cultural diversity aspect," said Michelle Hui, Brossard Ensemble's candidate in district nine who is running for re-election.

Matt D'Amours/CBC
Matt D'Amours/CBC

Running for all residents

Hui says diversity and representation in politics is a key issue for her, and she isn't the only one.

Simra Baig, a candidate of Pakistani descent running in district seven for Coalition Brossard, is happy to be part of a broader field of candidates in this election.

Matt D'Amours/CBC
Matt D'Amours/CBC

"I feel like it's a very good example of what the community over here in Brossard is," she said.

Bangladeshi-Canadian — and first-time municipal candidate — Faisal Chowdhury (Brossard Uni, district four) says the growing diversity in the city means that now is the time for him to run.

"A lot of people are living in this beautiful city. And every day, it's growing — people from all over the world," he said.

Matt D'Amours/CBC
Matt D'Amours/CBC

And with greater diversity in Brossard's field of candidates in this election, there are hopes that more citizens will show up to the polls.

But at the same time, many candidates say they're not just running to represent their cultural community — that the issues they care about affect their neighbours, no matter who they are.

"I represent all the population, all the residents of Brossard … because we're all human, we're all residents of Brossard, and we have the same concerns," said Li.

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