Do Canada’s most powerful federal posts reflect the country’s diversity?

My latest, with Jerome Black, examining which benchmark should we use regarding visible minority representation in political institutions: overall population or citizenship-based population:

The inclusion of Canadians from visible minority groups in the country’s major political and socio-economic institutions is an important indicator of the success that Canada can claim as a multicultural nation, and ultimately a measure of the nature and distribution of power and influence within the country. But how to properly assess the level of inclusion for particular groups?

Where data exist, this is a straightforward task. To contextualize whether genuine integration and inclusion have occurred requires identifying the percentage of the overall Canadian population that the visible minority group occupies, and comparing that number to the group’s representation in a particular sector. A small or non-existent gap between the two percentages would suggest a more positive interpretation about the incorporation of visible minorities while a larger deficit would imply the opposite. Still, the analysis can be done using different population benchmarks. (Note that the term visible minority is used here to match the language used by Statistics Canada in the collection of census and other data.)

We wanted to take a close look at the overall percentage of visible minority candidates and MPs over the last three general elections; and the percentages per visible minority group. We also wanted to see what percentage of appointed officials (senators, judges, Governor in Council (GiC) appointees and public servants) were from visible minority groups.

There are two benchmarks used here – one is using the overall population, and the other is using the portion of the population that are citizens. The latter’s importance stems from the requirement that the candidates of political parties hold citizenship.  Similarly, the requirements for most political appointments and public service hiring are citizenship-based. While GiC appointment requirements vary by organization, given residency, knowledge and experience requirements for full-time positions, citizenship would appear to be the default criterion…

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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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