Calls by Operation Black Vote Canada for increased representation in elections are going unanswered by party leaders

Never understand why these kinds of advocacy and calls do not include any data, even though this is fairly easy to obtain given work by a number of researchers.

2019 numbers to provide the most recent baseline: 50 Black candidates, 6 Black MPs. A partial explanation lies in the relative dispersion of Black Canadians in contrast to other groups (e.g., Canadian Sikhs, Chinese Canadians) that are more concentrated.

There are 21 ridings with 10 percent or more Black Canadians (2016 data) – https://multiculturalmeanderings.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/vm-ridings-black-10-percent.pdf:

Earlier this year, Parliament unanimously voted to designate Aug. 1 as Emancipation Day across Canada, commemorating the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

While we have made progress in the almost 200 years since the first Emancipation Day, we still have a lot to do to eradicate the systemic racism that remains deeply embedded in our institutions. To do so, we must ensure that we have diversity and inclusion at decision-making tables at every level of government.

As part of its advocacy efforts, Operation Black Vote Canada (OBVC) engaged the leaders of the major political parties with elections occurring over the next 12-18 months to call for the implementation of strategies to increase the meaningful participation of Black candidates in upcoming races.

Leaders are responsible for setting the tone, priorities and direction of the campaigns their parties will run. With this authority comes both the opportunity and the responsibility of ensuring that the slates they present to voters reflect the makeup of Canada. To this end, we have asked party leaders to commit to three things:

  • Working with local electoral district associations to help nominate Black candidates in ridings with past records of success, or “winnable” ridings.
  • Ensuring that Black nomination candidates have equal access to lists, information and data to further their campaigns.
  • Ensuring that nominated Black candidates receive equally full support of their party structure throughout the election cycle, including fundraising support, leader engagement and access to all relevant data.

While we received responses from every party leader in Nova Scotia, we are still awaiting replies from the Ontario PC party, and all of the party leaders in Quebec. Despite our efforts, the only federal party to respond to date is the Green party.

Over the past year, we have heard from corporate and political party leaders that they are committed to increasing diversity in all workplaces.

The path to building a diverse caucus is paved with a diverse slate of candidates. As part of our commitment to advocate for the election of Black Canadians of all political affiliations across Canada, OBVC will continue to hold leaders and political parties to account for the lack of representation of Black Canadians at all levels of government. Black representation matters to us, and to Canada. It should matter to political party leaders as well — we know that a broader pool of lived experiences helps inform and develop public policy that reflects the needs of Canadians.

Black communities must demand that our interests and or voices are adequately represented at all decision-making tables. In the current and upcoming elections, we are asking all voters to choose wisely, looking at all the platforms and the track record of each party — including who they choose to nominate.

Ultimately, it’s up to us all to vote for a party that reflects the best interests of you, your family and your community.

Velma Morgan is the chair of Operation Black Vote Canada. She is an advocate for gender and cultural diversity in politics.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/08/20/calls-by-operation-black-vote-canada-for-increased-representation-in-elections-are-going-unanswered-by-party-leaders.html

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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