Will Christy Clark Gift-Wrap Millions More For TOIFA To Hold Another Pre-Election Bollywood Party In 2017?

BC Shovelled $11 Million To The Awards Organizers In 2013!

TOIFATOIFA was held in April 2013 with much fanfare and brought the likes of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan and other stars and in the subsequent election, which brought Christy Clark and the BC Liberals a majority government despite the NDP leading in the polls, showed that the government benefitted enormously with South Asian voters through ticket giveaways and other freebees associated with the awards that also led to the BC Liberals winning a number of close seats, including one previously held by the NDP in Surrey.

By R. Paul Dhillon

With News Files

DESIBUZZbc (1)-RedVANCOUVER – After taking more than $11 million of BC Taxpayers` money for the inaugural Times of India Film Awards (TOIFA) in Vancouver in April 2013 just before the last election featuring Christy Clark as leader, the organizers of this award show have been missing in action until this year when they suddenly surfaced and hosted another event in Dubai, most likely as a build-up to getting another chance at more millions from BC for another Christy Clark pre-election Bollywood party in 2017.

Interestingly, the TOIFA was only created, many say by Clark`s people who came up with the idea, after the more established International Indian Film Academy Awards  (IIFA) refused Clark`s insistence that the awards be held in April instead of IIFA`s usual May-June staging. So this new organizer TOIFA was created to bring in the hype and create a big party for the large South Asian community in BC.

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British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, left, and Vancouver-based Indian dance choreographer Shiamak Davar share a laugh on stage while holding trophies during an event in Vancouver, B.C., on January 22, 2013, to announce the inaugural The Times of India Film Awards.

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mmm_logo2TOIFA was held in April 2013 with much fanfare and brought the likes of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan and other stars and in the subsequent election, which brought Christy Clark and the BC Liberals a majority government despite the NDP leading in the polls, showed that the government benefitted enormously with South Asian voters through ticket giveaways and other freebees associated with the awards that also led to the BC Liberals winning a number of close seats, including one previously held by the NDP in Surrey.

And there is talk now that Clark may once again host the Times of India Film Awards for the second time next year before the May election.

Clark herself told CBC that it may happen and sources tell me that discussions with the organizers are already underway but critics are saying the obvious, that the move is simply a way to garner votes leading up to an election.

Organizers of TOIFA put on the lavish Bollywood show in Vancouver for the first time in 2013, leading up to a provincial election that the B.C. Liberals went on to win. The red carpet show took place at BC Place and cost taxpayers $11 million.

TOIFA2"It was 11 million bucks for a photo op for the premier, a party for the premier, right before an election," said B.C. NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert.

The NDP's art and culture critic told CBC an occasional award show is not the best way to spend $11 million.

"I think it would be much better to have consistent advocacy within India, to both bring their film community here, to increase tourism," he said.

"I rather the $11 million be spent in ways that could do that each and every year, not just a one off before an election."

Clark says that 2013 event was important in building B.C.'s relationship with India.

Many in Vancouver's large South Asia community were elated about the movie award show coming to town three years ago, saying it boosted the Canadian city's presence in India.

Brand-D-LogoClark says while the province is considering a proposal from the Times of India to host the show in Vancouver, it has not decided anything yet.

While Clark is mulling the potential of spending millions of taxpayer dollars for another `vote buy`, CKNW's Shelby Thom reported that the Times of India publishing and broadcasting behemoth wants to return to B.C. for another show.

“This is what's known in political circles as floating a trial balloon. If the idea is embraced or if polling shows that this could help the B.C. Liberals' election chances, this will likely move forward,“ wrote Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith in an editorial this week.

“The tactic clearly worked in the 2013 election, notwithstanding all the bad press about the costs. The B.C. Liberals very narrowly won two constituencies with large South Asian populations: Vancouver-Fraserview and Surrey-Fleetwood. In fact, Clark's party won five of the eight Surrey seats.“

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