Canada federal election candidates include more visible minorities in 2015 than in the past four votes | National Post

More on visible minority candidates, with good commentary by Erin Tolley, Chris Cochrane and Priya Ramanujan:

Notably, this is the first time that the proportion of visible minority candidates in Parliament reflects the per cent of visible minority candidates who ran for election. Usually, a far greater proportion runs than is actually elected, said Erin Tolley, an expert on visible minorities in Canadian politics at the University of Toronto.

“It’s great to benchmark how many arrive in Parliament, but also to think about the mechanism through which they got there,” added Tolley, explaining that the success of visible minority MPs may have had more to do with the Liberal wave than with conscious effort. In 2011, the NDP were hailed for bringing several young MPs into Parliament, but they had “won by accident, by surprise” because of an unexpected surge of support in ridings they hadn’t expected to win.

Thirty nine visible minority MPs, the bulk of those elected yesterday, belong to the Liberal party, which has long had the support of more visible minorities than the other major federal parties.

“A Liberal victory like we saw last night unsurprisingly is going to return a particularly high number of visible minority candidates to Parliament,” said Cochrane.

“As visible minorities become more entrenched, they’re here for many generations. They’ve been living in their neighbourhoods for decades. That’s all a recipe for increased engagement in federal politics,” he added.

Priya Ramanujam, production editor of New Canadian Media, a news website focused on immigrants, said she’s seen such change unfold in her own neighbourhood, which is part of the GTA’s Scarborough North riding.

Until 2011, the area, where more than 70 per cent of voters belong to visible minorities, was represented by a non-visible minority MP. This year all three major parties ran visible minority candidates. And it’s not just the parties who are trying to get more in tune with locals.

“I have definitely noticed an increase in people getting involved in politics, both young people and adults right up to seniors, and that’s across ethnicities,” said Ramanujam, who says that youth are far more engaged than when she was in high school in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

But Tolley said what happens next will dictate how much influence visible minorities have in practice. “To me, a commitment to diversity and equality goes beyond just putting people in the House of Commons. It means giving them a voice of power,” she said.

Visible minorities held token positions under the previous government, she said. “There were visible minorities sitting in cabinet, but those visible minorities had cabinet portfolios that were extremely limited.”

“The visible minorities that tend to get access to power are not the full range of people of colour that we see in Canada,” added Tolley, warning that advancements for minorities in general can distract from the plight of marginalized groups, such as Black Canadians, very of few of which have been elected to parliament.

The Oct. 19 election saw the three major parties field more visible minority candidates than in the past four federal elections, according to a study by Andrew Griffith, former director general for citizenship and multiculturalism at Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The National Post used data from the study to tally the number of visible minority MPs.

In total, 143 of the 1014 candidates that ran for the Conservative, Liberal and NDP parties belong to a visible minorities with 68 of them running in 33 ridings where more than half of residents belonged to visible minorities.

Source: Canada federal election candidates include more visible minorities in 2015 than in the past four votes | National Post

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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