Immigrants are not a monolithic voting block

Ethnic_Voting_Cochrane_SlideGood panel organized by the Munk Centre:

If the Conservative Party is banking on the immigrant and ethnic minority vote to win them the election, as some believe they did in 2011, they might need to revisit that narrative.

“They do well with white immigrants, not visible minority immigrants. I think there is a disconnect with the narrative and reality,” says Chris Cochrane, an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Cochrane took part today in the University of Toronto’s Munk School panel, “Courting the Ethnic Vote: Immigration and Multiculturalism in the 2015 Federal Election.” The panel of experts discussed a variety of topics facing ethnic minorities, from the racialization of candidates to the importance of diversity in politics.

Jeffrey Reitz, the president of the Harney Program in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies at the Munk Centre, moderated the panel and opened it by discussing the traditional voting narrative of immigrants in Canada: for generations, immigrants voted for the Liberal Party of Canada, because “they were the party of open immigration,” or for the New Democratic Party, because they were the “party of the underdog.”

There was an apparent breakthrough for the Conservative Party in getting the ethnic vote when the former minister of citizenship and immigration, Jason Kenney, embarked on a major outreach effort during the last federal election, said Reitz.

“Old-stock Canadians with conservative values meet new-stock Canadians with conservative values, that was the story.”

“There is no question about the dominance of the narrative of Conservative inroads among immigrant communities,” said Cochrane, but his findings show different conclusions.

But immigrants who have moved to Canada from the Middle East showed an almost equal vote distribution amongst the parties. South Asians voted strongly for the Liberals, and African immigrants voted for the NDP. The Conservatives were favoured by Europeans, East Asians and Americans.

“A story of a massive special immigrant vote that abandoned the Liberal Party, and shifted to the Conservative Party, outside of Quebec doesn’t seem to be consistent with the data.”

Cochrane’s findings on ethnic minority and immigrant voting patterns came from the “exit surveys” conducted by the research company IPSOS. They surveyed over 100,000 Canadians in the past three federal elections — including over 12,000 immigrant voters.

“This is a unique data set that allows us to look at small communities and discuss it with high statistical confidence, he told iPolitics.”

“Outside of Quebec, the immigrant as a whole mirrors to a larger extent the vote of other Canadians, and is equally heterogeneous. There is a lot of variation in diversity in the immigrant community — just as there is in the non-immigrant community.”

Source: Immigrants are not a monolithic voting block (paywall)

Another good presentation was by Erin Tolley, looking at the news coverage of immigrants and minorities in Canadian politics, sharing the results of her forthcoming book, Framed: Media and the Coverage of Race in Canadian Politics (see her earlier op-ed in the Globe Parties pigeonhole visible minority candidates)

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.

One Response to Immigrants are not a monolithic voting block

  1. Pingback: Visible minority communities and the Election: More interesting articles from New Canadian Media | Multicultural Meanderings

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