Ben Chin is known to most 416/905ers as a former television personality and news host for Citytv in Toronto.
Chin’s now running for the Ontario Liberals in a by-election for the riding of Toronto-Danforth after the provincial seat was vacated by NDP candidate Marilyn Churley when she ran for a federal seat.
As the political game goes for some, it is often advantageous to stress humble beginnings that only help magnify one’s accomplishments.
Chin reaches out to his constituents in this advertisement:
“I moved to East York as a 13 year old. I left my parents behind in Korea, where they were facing political persecution. I didn’t know if I’d see them again.” — Ben Chin, provincial Liberal candidate Toronto-Danforth
However, in this interview we learn a little bit more about Chin’s family background and we get a clearer picture about Ben Chin’s escape from Korea:
Q: As the son of a South Korean diplomat, you travelled the world. Did you notice the different cars in each place you lived?
A: I have always loved cars. I had toy cars and pedal cars as a kid. I used to have a steering wheel with a suction cup. You’d slap it on the dash, sit by the driver and pretend to drive. Because of my dad’s position we always had a chauffeur. The first job I wanted growing up was to be a chauffeur. It’s freaky in retrospect. Everybody’s father had a driver.
Q: Your Dad retired from government service when you were 16 …
A: Yes. We moved to Canada. In Europe the diplomat’s car was the Mercedes. In North America it was the Cadillac. The first car we bought when we moved to Canada was a Chevette and then an Oldsmobile Delta 88. After a life of limos all I saw on the road were cars like these. I was shocked. I didn’t know that such things existed. I was seven years old when I realized my Dad could drive. I gained a whole new respect for him. I thought the car belonged to the guy in the uniform.
Ben Chin was born in Geneva Switzerland and his parents actually moved to Canada when he was 6 years old. When Ben was 10, his father’s diplomatic posting in Ottawa ended and instead of following his parents back to Korea (the country in which the faced “political persecution”), Ben decided to stay in Toronto (source)
From the hard-knock life of a jet-set diplomat’s chauffeured son to the Liberal backbench…
UPDATE: In the interests in presenting as much of the story as possible and to be as fair as possible, I present what may be the other side of the story. The following is unverified and 2nd hand from a friend of a friend of the Ben Chin campaign. But, it comes from Jason Cherniak, so it might be worth considering:
“Ben Chin’s father was a diplomat. Apparently, at some point in the 1970s he opined that pro-democracy activists should be let out of prison in South Korea. (Remember that the country was not a democracy at that point in time.) Ben Chin’s father was arrested by the Korean secret service and accused of being a communist. In 1976, the secret service visited Chin at school and threatened to end his education. That is when he obtained a student visa to Canada, where he lived with his brother and sister who were in university. In 1978, Ben Chin’s father was released from prison and allowed to move to Canada. His wife (Ben’s mother) snuck out of South Korea and joined her family.”
So, what’s the true story? Did Ben live in Ottawa until 1974 with his parents until they left him to return to Korea? (source)
Or was Chin in Korea in 1976 and only moved to Canada after his father was threatened? (according to an unnamed partisan source close to the Chin campaign via Cheriak)
I posted this story because it’s about Canadian politics and it has an inconsistancy about a Liberal candidate’s backstory. Could Cherniak’s unnamed partisan source be more accurate than what has/hasn’t been reported in print? It’s possible, but without more credible information I’m going with what appears in the public record.
But, I thought Jason’s post was worth consideration and that’s why I’ve included it.