Federal riding profiles: A visible minority view

How does Canada’s political map of 338 ridings look in terms of the percentage of visible minorities? How do visible minority rich ridings compare to ridings with fewer visible minorities in terms of demographic, economic and social characteristics, and electoral results? 

Their electoral importance is clear, with 41 ridings in which visible minorities form the majority and an additional 93 ridings in which visible minorities form between 20 to 50 percent of the population.

By looking at ridings grouped by their percentage of visible minorities, the changing nature of Canada’s political landscape can be seen. As party electoral strategies focus on defining a winning approach given the needs and make-up of each riding’s population, having a comprehensive look at the demographic, economic and social characteristics helps one understand the various factors at play in electoral strategies. Political parties, of course, have their own more detailed data at the polling station level; this analysis aims to level the playing field, so to speak, for the rest of us.

This analysis provides a visible minority lens to ridings and their relation to demographic, economic, social and political characteristics. Given the ongoing trend of increasing immigration levels, that close to 80 percent of immigrants are visible minority, and the increased number of Canadian-born visible minorities, this approach provides a future-centred perspective to the political map.

While political parties collect some of this and other data at a much more granular level (postal code and polling station), the riding level provides a good sense of the diversity between ridings, and helps explain some of the political strategies employed to reach voters.

The higher unemployment rates, lower median incomes and greater prevalence of low income, suggest that economic issues are as significant as immigration-related issues such as family reunification in visible minority majority ridings. With their younger age profile and larger number of families, family-friendly policies are also important but childcare may be seen more though a family reunification perspective (parents and grandparents) than through government programs.

Identity politics play out differently depending on the percentage of visible minorities as the experience of the last election shows. Efforts by the Conservatives with respect to the “barbaric cultural practices” tip line and the effective distinction between Canadian-only and dual citizens in their citizenship revocation provisions, while appealing to many, created unease among visible minorities and provided an opening for the Liberal “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian” language.

However, a likely common thread among most Canadians, whatever their origins, is that immigration and citizenship need to be managed and that the fairness and integrity of the processes is maintained. Public concern regarding irregular arrivals (“queue jumping”) and increased numbers of birth tourists are but the obvious examples. While for some, expressing these concerns may be driven by xenophobia, for most it is more likely driven by concerns over fairness and people taking advantage of policies and processes. 

Tables and analysis

This article uses 2016 Census Profile federal electoral district along with Elections Canada voting results by electoral district to highlight similarities and differences. The three broad groups of ridings — 41 ridings in which visible minorities form the majority, 93 ridings in which visible minorities form between 20 to 50 percent of the population, and 169 ridings with less than 20 percent visible minority — are subdivided to provide greater granularity. The groupings with the smallest number of ridings have the lowest variation or range in any of the indicators.

The full analysis can be found: Federal riding profiles: A visible minority view

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.

2 Responses to Federal riding profiles: A visible minority view

  1. UMIT KIZILTAN says:

    One of a kind highly relevant analysis for our times whose relevance will further increase in the near future.

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