The U.K. a role model for political diversity

A more compete survey can be found here:

While the UK is far ahead of Canada in terms of political leaders, less so in terms of MPs: 10 percent visible minorities compared to about 16 percent in Canada:

History shows us that governments that are representative of all their people are often better run and more meritocratic. Representative governments tend to implement more inclusive policies while at the same time elevating a diverse set of role models. These leaders bring more creative insights to the policy-making table that can lead to alternative solutions and thus make decisions that better serve everyone.

While Canadian governments have been getting more diverse in their representation over the past few years, unlike in Britain, the top jobs in Canadian politics have largely eluded the grasp of racialized and new Canadians.

As India and Pakistan gained their independence just over 75 years ago, the stage was set for a rapid wind down of the British Empire over the next two decades. Britain benefited from its post-colonial relationships by attracting waves of African, Asian and Caribbean immigrants as a postwar labour shortage forced it to look beyond its shores in order attract the workers needed to keep its economy running. This migration changed the face of cities like London, Manchester and Glasgow during the latter half of the 20th century.

Yet it was not all milk and honey for these newcomers. On arrival, many often faced racism and discrimination, which was not officially outlawed in Britain until 1965. While the struggle against systemic discrimination continues, there is no doubt that at least when it comes to political representation, the descendants of these post colonial migrants have made their mark on British society in a big way.

Today, arguably the top three political jobs in the U.K., that of British prime minister, Scottish first minister and Lord mayor of London, are held by Rishi Sunak, Humza Yousaf and Sadiq Khan respectively. Their grandparents lived under British Colonial rule in South Asia.

More importantly, they each hail from different parties across the ideological spectrum and they all rose to political heights without facing significant backlash from a British society that appears to have moved beyond seeing race as a determining factor in selecting its leaders. Across the Irish Sea, Leo Varadkar, whose father was born in Bombay (Mumbai), has twice served as prime minister of the Republic of Ireland since 2017.

So, how do we Canadians fare in comparison to our cousins in the British Isles?

Despite our overt commitment to multiculturalism and the fact that Statistics Canada projects racialized Canadians will make up between 38 to 43 per cent of the Canadian population by 2041, Canada has never had a person of colour serve as a first minister, apart from Ujjal Dosanjh’s very brief stint as premier of British Columbia more than 20 years ago.

Source: The U.K. a role model for political diversity

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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