Inky Mark

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Inky Mark



Inky Mark (Chinese: 麥鼎鴻; pinyin: Mài Dǐnghóng; born November 17, 1947) is a Canadian politician and a former member of the Canadian House of Commons, representing the Manitoba riding of Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette. Mark is a member of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Early life[edit]

Mark was born in Taishan, China, and moved to the Canadian province of Manitoba as a child. Mark's father and grandfather had emigrated from China to Canada some time previously, but were unable to bring their families with them as a result of provisions in the Chinese Immigration Act (more commonly known as the Chinese Exclusion Act) of 1923. Mark accompanied his mother when she fled China in 1953, and subsequently settled with his family in the Manitoba community of Gilbert Plains.


Mark has a Bachelor of Arts from Brandon University and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba. Before entering political life, he worked as a high school teacher and small businessman. Mark also has a certificate in broadcasting and started a Masters in Education program. He served on the board of the Dauphin First United Church.

Political career[edit]

Mark's political career began at the municipal level. He was elected to the Dauphin town council in 1991, and became the town's mayor in 1994. He was first elected to the House of Commons in the federal election of 1997, running as a candidate of the Reform Party in the riding of Dauphin—Swan River. He received 12668 votes, against 7716 for his nearest competitor, Progressive Conservative Lorne Boguski. The incumbent, Liberal Marlene Cowling, finished fourth with 7408 votes. From 1997 to 2000, Mark was one of only three Chinese-Canadian MPs in the House of Commons; the other two were Raymond Chan and Sophia Leung.

The Reform Party dissolved itself in 2000 in favour of the Canadian Alliance, and Mark ran as a candidate of the new party in the federal election which followed. He was easily re-elected, defeating his nearest competitor, Liberal Jane Dawson, by a margin of 15855 votes to 7091.

Mark's career followed an unusual trajectory between 2001 and 2004. As the Alliance's parliamentary critic for Immigration, Mark was responsible for expressing his party's position on the Liberal government's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which he did during the immigration controversy involving the Sklarzyk family who, as a result of an administrative error, was deported from Canada to Poland in May 2001. He also contributed to the parliamentary committee's work in drafting the final version of the bill, and was generally regarded by MPs from all parties as having made several constructive criticisms to the legislation.

On June 13, 2001, however, Mark's position on the bill was undercut by Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day, who delivered a speech in parliament supporting tighter restrictions against refugee claimants and reduced opportunities for rejected claimants to appeal to the Refugee Board. Day's comments diverged from Mark's stated position on several particulars, and his speech was regarded as very surprising by many other MPs in the House of Commons. (Liberal MP Steve Mahoney referred to Day's comments as "treachery" towards Mark, for which he was ruled out of order by the Speaker.)

Mark had not previously been among the Canadian Alliance MPs agitating for Day's removal as leader, but following Day's speech he joined a group of party dissidents led by Chuck Strahl and Deborah Grey. On September 12, 2001, Mark left the Canadian Alliance caucus to sit as a member of the Democratic Representative Caucus, in alliance with the Progressive Conservative Party. The DRC came to an end on April 10, 2002, when Stephen Harper replaced Day as Canadian Alliance leader. Every other member of the DRC requested to be re-admitted to the Alliance; Mark did not join them, but instead decided to sit as an Independent Conservative, with the intention of joining the Progressive Conservative Party at their annual party convention later in the year. Mark formally joined the Progressive Conservatives on August 27, 2002.

Late in 2003, the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party formally merged to create the new Conservative Party of Canada. Mark supported the merger, and formally joined the new party's caucus on February 2, 2004. The merger placed Mark back among the Canadian Alliance MPs with whom he had parted company in 2002.

Mark was easily re-elected in the Canadian federal election of 2004, receiving nearly three times as many votes as his nearest challenger, New Democrat Walter Kolisnyk. During the Parliamentary crisis that followed, Mark claimed that he was offered an ambassadorship by an unnamed cabinet minister, in exchange for vacating his seat in the House of Commons prior to the pivotal budget vote. The Liberals denied the allegation.

Ideologically, Mark may be defined as a fiscal conservative with some leanings toward social conservatism (although he has not emphasized the latter in his speeches or campaigns), holding progressive views on issues involving cultural change within Canada as evidenced by the 2001 bureaucratic bumble which lead to the controversial deportation of the Sklarzyk family.

Return to municipal politics[edit]

Mark announced in June 2009 that he would not seek re-election in the next federal election, which was held on May 2, 2011.[4] He subsequently announced on August 16, 2010 that he would step down as an MP on September 15 to campaign for another term as mayor of Dauphin. However, he lost narrowly to Eric Irwin.

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