In New York, the Prime Minister talks about winning immigrant votes

The “fourth sister” of Canadian politics to use Tom Flanagan’s phrase.

Most of the analysis I have seen (2011 Canada Election Study and related articles) have a similar nuanced understanding of the Conservative Party’s success, but all acknowledge the “showing up” aspect of the outreach by Jason Kenney as having an impact on some communities.

Healthy for Canadian democracy that all parties actively engage new Canadians:

Harper emphasizes his ability to position his party as closer to new Canadians in terms of policy ideas on the economy and crime, and in terms of underlying social attitudes. But how to disentangle those factors from his undeniable success in the past two elections in simply presenting himself as a more resolute, confidence-inspiring leader?

And then there’s this further point the Prime Minister also made today, after he proposed the inherent attraction of Conservative thinking to immigrants: “But we began our appeal first and foremost by showing up, by making sure we’re present at their events, by making sure they have a home in our political party.”

There can be little doubt he’s right that making personal connections, on some level emotional ones, matters greatly. Again, Kenney is widely credited with getting out among various immigrant groups. But isn’t Justin Trudeau proving a huge draw among similar communities? In Trudeau’s case, though, it’s less often a matter of making sure to be present at somebody else’s event, than drawing throngs to his own.

Listening to Harper today, there could be no doubt he’s betting heavily on the immigrant vote when it comes to his re-election chances next fall. No wonder. It’s a major part of what brought him to office. The question is whether his assertion of a deep bond between Conservatives and immigrants, based on enduring ideas and attitudes, is accurate—or if, like so much of our electoral politics, it turns out that this strategic swath of votes responds more to a given leader’s persona than anything else.

In New York, the Prime Minister talks about winning immigrant votes.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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