Federal judiciary edges closer to gender parity, but numbers of minorities drop


Hmm. Effect of change in Minister?:

The federal judiciary is edging closer to gender parity after the second consecutive year in which more women than men were appointed judges, new data show. Women now make up 43 per cent of the 905 full-time judges.

But the numbers of minorities dropped, also for the second year in a row. There were just four members of visible-minority groups chosen, and two Indigenous persons, out of 86 new judges.

In the wake of the new statistics, some members of the legal community are urging the government to do more to appoint minorities to the bench.

“I think it is time now to redefine what we mean by merit,” said Daphne Dumont, a former president of the Canadian Bar Association who practises law in Charlottetown.

“I think you can be highly meritorious for all sorts of reasons that aren’t necessarily the reasons given in the application form that you have to fill in.” For instance, Indigenous lawyers who have returned to their home communities to bring them access to justice have shown merit. The process, she and others said, typically rewards those who are perceived as leaders through volunteering, teaching and participating on boards of legal associations.

The Liberal government revised the appointment process in 2016, with a stated emphasis on diversity. For the first time, the government asked judicial applicants whether they are disabled, a member of a visible minority or an ethnic/cultural minority, LGBTQ2 or Indigenous.

Each year, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs reports on the numbers of applicants and appointments from each of the groups. The numbers cover federally appointed courts such as the superior courts of provinces, the Federal Court of Canada and the Tax Court.

From October, 2016, to October, 2017, an equal number of men and women – 37 – were appointed to these courts, although men far outnumbered women among applicants. The following year, female applicants for the first time outnumbered males, and the numbers appointed also exceeded those of males – 46 to 33. This year, appointments were 47 women, 39 men.

By contrast, the numbers went down among the minority groups. This year (from October, 2018, to October, 2019), there were 20 appointees – 14 from ethnic/cultural groups; four visible minorities; two Indigenous; and zero categorized as LGBTQ2 or disabled. (There were 19 LGBTQ2 applicants and six disabled ones. Applicants can stay in the pool for two years.) The previous year, there were seven visible minorities, three Indigenous and 29 overall. The first year of the reports, in 2017, there were 32 – including nine visible minorities.

Rachel Rappaport, a spokeswoman for Justice Minister David Lametti, said the minister has met with legal organizations since his appointment early this year to encourage applicants from visible-minority, Indigenous, linguistic-minority and LGBTQ2 communities. The meetings were also a chance to identify barriers and work together on solutions to further expand the pool of candidates, she said.

Lori Anne Thomas, president of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, said the appointments of black and Indigenous judges have been “woefully lacking.” She said she was singling out those two groups because they are overrepresented in the criminal-justice system, and among families in the child-protection system.

“The women who are appointed are white women. It shows there have been a lot of efforts in the legal community to create fairness and equality when it comes to gender, but it’s still not there in terms of race, or Indigenous persons,” she said in an interview.

Ms. Thomas said she would like to see “more consideration” given to members of overrepresented communities – for instance, for overcoming obstacles.

“Those who are racialized won’t be given the same kind of opportunities to speak on panels, to lead cases in the same way that especially their white male counterparts would be given.”

On that point, Scott Maidment, president of the Advocates’ Society, a lawyers’ group, said change needs to come from within the legal profession, too. To become a judge, “You need opportunities for leadership within the profession.” The Advocates’ Society has revised its leadership principles to stress inclusivity, he said.

Source: 43 per cent of federal judges

Elections Canada tried to beat back ‘implausible’ online rumours about pencils spoiling ballots

Interesting how these rumours and fake news take on a life of their own and the challenges in combatting them:

A new social media monitoring team at Elections Canada spent more than 10 days responding to online disinformation claiming polling stations were using pencils that could be intentionally smudged to spoil voters’ ballots.

The story started online in Canada with purported first-hand accounts of Canadians voting during advance polling, then went wide on social media platforms — casting doubts in some voters’ minds about election security.

By Oct. 21, Elections Canada was getting angry questions from voters asking why the agency only provides pencils at polling stations, while some people tweeted out claims that the system couldn’t be trusted and the election could be “rigged.”

Elections Canada said the claims are unsubstantiated and implausible. Even if a ballot is smudged, the agency said, it would still be counted.

The department never issued a public alert during the campaign itself — suggesting the agency did not consider it to be a threat to the integrity of the election.

Online disinformation expert Elizabeth Dubois, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, said these reports didn’t spread widely enough to trigger voter panic — but they could still undermine public confidence in the democratic process.

“It could lead to people choosing not to cast their ballot,” said Dubois. “It could lead people to believe their system is untrustworthy, illegitimate, that it’s not even worth participating in.”

‘My X was gone’

The 2019 election marked the first time Elections Canada monitored social media during a campaign. The monitoring team’s objective was to detect false information about where, when and how to register and vote. The department reports it only detected 28 pieces of misinformation and impersonation accounts between August and election day.

Elections Canada did spend time during the campaign responding to voters’ social media queries about why pencils were offered at the polls. All the department could do was to point out that, while Elections Canada is required by law to provide black lead pencils at polling stations, voters can bring their own pens, markers or other writing tools to mark their ballots without seeing them discarded.

Some of the early social media posts about the poll pencils appeared in mid-October. One of them was an alleged first-hand account posted on Reddit about a chaotic Toronto polling station. The post said a voter handed their ballot to a clerk who opened it, looked at how they voted and smudged the X on their ballot.

“My X was gone,” said the author of the post, which has since been removed from Reddit but was copied to Facebook. “It looked like one big smudge mark … It was clear my ballot would be considered spoiled.”

The post said that the polling station refused to give the voter a new ballot. It also claimed that few at the polling station spoke English.

“I’m 100% sure the Liberals win my riding. No doubt about it,” said the post. The post was picked up and shared on other social media platforms.

From there, the posts complaining about the poll pencils snowballed.

Shauna McAllister of Nanaimo, B.C. warned voters on social media that their pencilled ballots may have been tampered with.

She told CBC News that she saw some of her Facebook friends in Alberta sharing their own stories of ballots being smudged. She said her daughter also told her about an online story alleging a voter at the Vancouver Conference Centre called police claiming her ballot being spoiled.

“If you voted by pencil. Your vote may have been tampered!,” she posted on Facebook on Oct. 24. “Revote? 1st world countries need a better system?”

McAllister said she filed a complaint with Elections Canada and called the political parties’ offices to spread the word.

CBC News told McAllister that Elections Canada officials have said there is no evidence to suggest a ballot security problem with the pencils. She said she hasn’t changed her mind.

“I don’t agree with the idea of voting in pencil,” McAllister said. “To me, that sounds like an archaic practice and it could be compromised. It’s not rocket science. I do art and I have little children and number 3 pencils. You use them because you can smudge them off.

“I think generally, If there’s a little bit of smoke, there’s a bit of fire there. So potentially there was the possibility that some people’s votes may have been compromised … Why bother trying to make your vote count?”

Why pencils?

Elections Canada said in a statement to CBC News that no part of the allegations has been substantiated.

“The events as described are implausible and do not match our records,” the department wrote.

Pencils are required by law at polling stations because they are “practical,” Elections Canada said.

“Unlike pens, they can be stored between elections without drying out,” the agency said. “Also, ink pens can blot paper; if a blot mark can be seen through the ballot paper, someone else might be able to guess who the elector voted for, thereby compromising the secrecy of the vote.”

Elections Canada added that workers at polling stations work in full view of the public and are never alone: witnesses would have reported seeing poll workers tampering with votes. Two scrutineers and party representatives are posted at every polling station, and as long as there is a mark beside a candidate’s name — even if it’s smudged — the vote counts.

No one charged with altering ballots

The agency said similar stories about poll pencils spread during recent elections in the U.K. and Australia.

CBC News tested an official pencil on a sample Elections Canada ballot. The ‘X’ smudged slightly, but not enough to distort the original mark.

The office of the Commissioner of Elections Canada confirmed it received complaints about ballots being smudged. It said no one was charged with violating the law by altering, defacing or destroying a ballot during this election.

“The complaints received did not provide factual information that would have allowed investigators to pursue the matter further,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement to CBC News.

Dubois studies the impact of disinformation on voters. She said it’s too early to tell what impact the story had without a full analysis.

She warned, however, that such messages can do damage over time, especially if the rumours aren’t dispelled before the next election.

“The vast majority of voters went, cast their ballots, no problem,” she said. “But these kinds of questions that get planted … can erode trust in democracy more broadly.

“We risk next time there being a much larger impact.”

Source: Elections Canada tried to beat back ‘implausible’ online rumours about pencils spoiling ballots

Parties must work between elections to improve diversity, say MPs, candidates

Some of the results of our recent analysis:
The 43rd Parliament will include 51 visible minority MPs, up from 47 after the 2015 election, while the number of Indigenous MPs will remain the same, at 10 out of 338, despite a record number running.

Parties have moved in the right direction when it comes to recruiting and selecting diverse political candidates, but more has to be done between elections to make federal politics accessible, say recent candidates and newly elected MPs.

“It’s not going to cut it,” if parties only focus on bringing in politicians that better reflect Canada’s makeup during pre-election candidate searches, said Liberal MP-elect Han Dong for Don Valley North, Ont.

“Between elections, all parties have to make a deliberate effort to reach out to communities to get them involved in policy discussions,” as a starting point, said Mr. Dong, a former Ontario MPP. “It is so important to generate that interest, to give a sense of involvement in decision-making. That’s how you’re going to get more people step forward and going for public office.”

For Andrea Clarke, who ran unsuccessfully as the NDP’s candidate in Outremont, Que., this year, the question of class and income disparity also makes running for Parliament less accessible to some, often racialized, Canadians.

How to make sure electoral politics are accessible and representative of the population isn’t something that should be discussed for just a few months each campaign season, she said.

“It’s something we need to intentionally build into how we hold our elections, and unfortunately folks who are the farthest have to fight the hardest to make the case that this is what we should be doing,” she said, adding that a lack of representative politics means losing out on having “different voices at the table, advocating for their communities, and their lived experience.”

Source: Andrew Griffith, from dataset created by The Hill Times, The Samara Centre for Democracy, and research partners.

The next Parliament will see a slight increase in visible minority representation in the House, with 51 MPs compared to 47 in 2017. The 43rd Parliament has 26 South Asian MPs, eight Chinese, five Black, six Arab, three West Asian, two Latin American, and one Korean, according to data pulled by researcher Andrew Griffith, based on a candidate database he created with The Hill Times, The Samara Centre for Democracy, and researcher Jerome Black, drawing from candidate biographies, media articles, social media, and photo analysis. The data may be missing some MPs, as it’s gleaned from publicly available information, and largely based on self-reported details.

Improving representation means striking a balance between “having candidates that run that reflect the composition nationally and yet making sure nominations are grassroots,” said Conservative MP-elect Marc Dalton, who is Métis and among the 10 MPs who identify as Indigenous in this Parliament.

Though a record number of 65 Indigenous candidates ran this election, the number who made it into the House didn’t budge from the 10 elected in 2015.

That amounts to three per cent of MPs, while 4.9 per cent of Canada’s population identified as Indigenous in the 2016 census. The party make-up has slightly changed, with six MPs in the Liberal caucus, two new MPs for the NDP, one Conservative, and Liberal turned Independent Jody Wilson-Raybould (Vancouver Granville, B.C.) remaining in the House.

The number of visible minority MPs is out also of line with the Canadian population, according to the 2016 census, which puts the visible minority population at 22.9 per cent—compared to 15 per cent of MPs in the 43rd Parliament. The Liberals lead with 38 MPs, followed by 10 in the Conservative Party, and three with the NDP. None of the Green Party’s three MPs or the Bloc Québécois’ 32 MPs are visible minorities.

If that’s the benchmark, Canada has “a serious underrepresentation problem,” said Mr. Griffith, a researcher at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, who uses a narrower comparison, looking instead at the level of Canadian citizens, rather than residents, who are visible minorities—17.2 per cent.

In that respect, he said parties are doing “reasonably well” especially compared to other political systems.

There were also small gains in the number of visible minority candidates who ran overall this election, from 12.9 per cent of candidates running for the main parties in 2015, to 15.7 per cent, including the new People’s Party of Canada, which had more visible minority candidates than the Green Party.

As with women, Samara researcher Paul Thomas said there’s a similar problem with visible minorities being less likely to run in seats where parties have a strong chance of winning. Gains in diversity are more likely made through seats that open up each election when incumbents leave, said Mr. Thomas, but his analysis found that the most competitive seats weren’t as open to diverse candidates.

This was especially true for the Conservative Party, which ran three visible minority candidates out of 42 competitive ridings—those with no incumbent running for re-election, or which were lost by a margin of five per cent or less in 2015.

Mr. Thomas also noted the Bloc’s “very poor performance” on this front. Despite its caucus tripling in size, only four of its 78 candidates were visible minorities, none of whom were ultimately elected.

When breaking down the results by ethnic background, a better picture emerges, noted Mr. Griffith, one that shows clear gaps in federal representation by community. For example, Filipino-Canadians are the fourth-largest visible minority group, but parties fielded only four candidates with that background overall, and none were elected. At 1.5 per cent of the House, Black representation is also low, he said, with five elected of the 49 candidates nominated across the major parties, despite making up 3.5 per cent of Canada’s population.

Mr. Dong is one among a record eight Chinese-Canadians elected to Parliament this year, but he noted it’s still half what it should be to reflect the Chinese-Canadian population, which makes up 4.6 per cent of the country.

“I think all parties, when it comes to candidate searches, are stepping towards the right direction,” said Mr. Dong. “In the beginning, it’s always hard, but when you start generating interest” and bringing candidate numbers into the double digits, as was the case with his community this election, he said it means there’s less of a mystery to political candidacy, and that more will come. Based on Mr. Griffith’s assessment, there were 38 Chinese-Canadian candidates in the running this past election.

Electoral candidates shouldn’t need white-collar backgrounds

Good piece by Mike Morden of Samara:

After the votes are counted tonight, 338 candidates will be headed to Ottawa to claim their seats as members of Parliament. The other 1500-plus candidates will be headed home. For some of them, that will mean coming to terms with a rough financial picture.

Running for office in a competitive campaign is very expensive. Serious candidates have to leave or quit their jobs, forgoing income for weeks or months. Some won’t have jobs to return to, if they weren’t fortunate in having flexible employers. The self-employed will have to make up for lost time and lost clients.

Drumming up sympathy for politicians is a difficult business. But it’s important to see the costs of standing for election, because those costs mean that few of us will ever be in a financial position to run — or to do so seriously. Our political class is drawn from those who have the means. The result is a form of underrepresentation in our national politics that often goes unnoticed or unchallenged. We need to find ways to make running for office more accessible.

The Samara Centre has been working with research partners and a team of volunteers to compile demographic profiles of all 2019 federal candidates in the major parties, based on information made public in candidates’ biographies. This data, which is not yet published, reveals the predicted underrepresentations — of women, Indigenous people and people of colour. But it also reflects class- and occupation-based underrepresentations. We can’t identify the income levels of candidates, of course, but we can make some inferences based on the information available to us.

For example, on the basis of publicly available information alone, it becomes clear that most candidates hold one or more university degrees; by comparison,  fewer than 30 percent of working-age Canadians have those credentials. Lawyers, entrepreneurs and private sector executives are well represented among candidates. So are office holders from other levels of government, and some middle-class professionals like teachers. But what about service workers in retail or hospitality? What about child care workers, or tradespeople? They’re largely absent from Canada’s political class.

None of this is remotely surprising. But it should bother us more than it does.

Education and income are strong predictors of Canadians’ attitudes toward political issues and of their general views of Canadian democracy. They are stronger predictors, in many cases, than the other identities we carry. There’s evidence that working-class politicians behave differently in office, that their life experiences inform different priorities. Our white-collar parties and Parliament make substantively different decisions than they would with a more economically diverse membership. And working-class Canadians don’t see themselves reflected in their leaders, strengthening the existing tendency toward greater political dissatisfaction and distrust.

These demographic absences are reflected in how politics is done, and for whom. Indeed, the lack of a lived experience of the working class is apparent in the political discourse today, which has become peculiarly conscious of just a single class: the middle class (whoever that is). It’s also reflected in the woolly notions held by political elites about what a working-class Canadian is in 2019 (it almost always involves a hard hat).

Much of the responsibility for recruiting a more diverse candidate slate falls to the parties. But fixing economic underrepresentation, deliberately and through policy, is not easy. It involves wrestling with social and economic structures that are pervasive and deeply entrenched — beyond the reach of most available political reforms.

Nevertheless, we can think creatively about policy avenues to make political candidacy more affordable and more accessible. We can start by replacing some of the income that is lost when someone seeks office. Employment insurance provides income support for people who are unexpectedly unemployed. But it is also a tool to replace income for people who have to step away from work temporarily, to do something that is personally costly but beneficial to society — like raising a baby or caring for a sick family member. This logic can be applied to political candidacy.

The federal government should consider a new carve-out in the Employment Insurance Act, to allow registered (non-incumbent) candidates for federal, provincial and municipal elections, if they are otherwise eligible for EI, to collect it for a limited period (say, for a maximum of 50 days, which is also the maximum length of a federal campaign). Right now, candidates aren’t formally disqualified from collecting EI. But they have to be available for work and job-searching in the usual ways while collecting the benefit. Anyone who is truly campaigning full-time, with the goal of actually winning and holding office, is essentially ruled out.

This should be changed. There would be some potential for abuse, but that’s no different from the conventional uses of EI. In fact, when it becomes necessary, distinguishing between real and fake candidates would be, relatively speaking, easier to adjudicate.

It’s really important that good people put their hands up to run in our elections. It’s really important that those people aren’t only the relatively wealthy. Replacing candidates’ income is a small change. Obviously, it wouldn’t be enough to overcome the huge structural obstacles facing working-class Canadians: precarious employment, lack of time and a want of political resources like personal access and fundraising networks, to name a few. The take-up would likely be small. And it may prove that more targeted measures are needed to move the needle on working-class representation.

But it’s a simple policy step to help relieve the immediate financial costs of candidacy. It would also send a message to some of the people who most need to hear it: that whatever the political class looks like today, it’s supposed to be of you, and for you — and, in fact, it needs you.

Source: Electoral candidates shouldn’t need white-collar backgrounds

Business tops experience among 2019 candidates, one-third have run for office before

Been fun helping out on this:

Whether debating at town halls, canvassing, or presenting their cases online, it’s a near record year for candidates, with 2,146 running, including 1,741 candidates offering for the six major parties and pitching themselves to Canadians in this election.

One-third of the 2019 Conservative candidates cite their business credentials in their online biographies—far more than their competitors, though business is a top job among all parties. Conservative candidates are more likely to be business owners, while the Liberals are fielding the most lawyers, and the NDP and Greens are popular among professors, teachers and students. Those in arts and entertainment industries are more common among the left-leaning parties, while military and police officers are more likely to appear on the CPC and the People’s Party of Canada’s slates.

This is according to an analysis of the most recent occupations of more than 1,700 people vying for the 338 seats in the next Parliament and was pulled from party biographies and other sources. The analysis is based on research conducted by The Samara Centre for Democracy and The Hill Times in partnership with researchers Jerome Black and Andrew Griffith.

While there are clear clusters of people with certain professional backgrounds who decide to take the leap for federal public office, the skillsets among MP hopefuls in this election are wide: from a semi-professional chess player, to chemists and truck drivers, to the three Olympic athletes trying their luck at a new type of contest.

There are 318 candidates running who have sat in the House, including 288 incumbents and 30 former MPs trying to make it back to Parliament. The Green Party has three former NDP MPs running for it, the PPC has two former Conservative MPs on its slate, and both Independent incumbents are former Liberals.

For many, the campaign trail is familiar territory. At least one-third of the slate is made up of campaign veterans, having previously run for or held political office at the municipal, Indigenous, provincial and territorial, or federal levels. The Liberals, with the most incumbents, lead the pack with at least 214 who fit in that figure, followed by 161 Conservatives. Only 78 NDP candidates cited past political runs, followed by 60 Green and 20 Bloc.

There are 318 candidates running who have sat in the House, including 288 incumbents and 30 former MPs trying to make it back to Parliament. The Green Party has three former NDP MPs running for it, the PPC has two former Conservative MPs on its slate, and both Independent incumbents are former Liberals.

Past political experience

Political experience Bloc CPC Green Liberal NDP PPC Grand Total
Current MP 10 81 3* 162 29 1 288
Past MP 1 18 2 7 2 30
Provincial/Territorial representative 2 11 1 12 1 27
Municipal representative
34 15 24 18 6 97
Past federal, provincial candidate 7 11 36 10 14 7 85
Indigenous government
1 3 4 6 14
Elected in another country
1 1
School board trustee
5 3 2 3 1 14
Total 20 161 60 214 78 18 556

There are clear differences across the parties for professionals they recruit or appeal to—often in expected ways, like business and the Conservative Party, said Paul Thomas, a senior researcher with Samara and Carleton University professor.

“In an ideal world you would have people from all backgrounds in all parties” and those interested would be reflected in the priorities of each, Prof. Thomas said.

The data shows that isn’t happening, he noted, with some sectors disproportionately represented (like business people, professors, and lawyers), while the more precarious sectors (retail, restaurant, or service) have fewer people running for federal office.

“This comes back to the question of whether politics is accessible across employment backgrounds? Do we have people who have experience, say in the retail sector, or in trades, feeling like their views are well represented?” he said.

That’s long been the case, with sales and service experience cited among about five per cent of MPs over the past 10 parliaments, while skilled occupations sat around 20 per cent, according to a Maclean’s analysis in 2015. Double the number appeared in law, social science, education, government services and professional occupations.

It’s a question of “symbolism,” in what it signals to a population that may feel distrust in or disaffected by politicians. It’s also a question of “legitimacy,” he said,  in that those voices should be represented to help with good policymaking.

“There also is the reality of polarization so if people find themselves believing one particular party can represent their best interest, that doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to compromise,” and it can be worrying to see over-concentration of types within a party.

Hopefuls most likely to cite business experience

Candidates most commonly cite their business credentials when wooing candidates, which was mentioned in 20 per cent of candidate profiles, followed by 10 per cent who fit in education, and eight per cent who work in government institutions (whether as staff or as representatives, like city councillors), seven per cent in legal professions, and six per cent in health care.

The Conservatives had the most business owners, at 42, followed by the People’s Party’s 24, the Liberals with 24, Greens with 23, and NDP with 7.The Conservatives were also far more likely to draw out with recent experience in the armed forces (15) as were the PPC (11).

Lawyers have long been an overrepresented profession in the House, and it was the second most common profession this election, with at least 46 running for Liberals, 26 for the Conservatives, 16 for the NDP, 10 for the Greens, and 8 for the PPC.

But that shift has changed over past Parliaments as more business people get elected, according to a 2013 Toronto Star. Before 1993, between 22 and 38 per cent of MPs in each Parliament were lawyers, but that moved down to 15 per cent,

About 10 per cent of each of the Liberal, NDP, and Green candidates are in the education field, with half that amount running for the Conservatives. Twenty-two per cent of the Bloc Québécois candidates cite education as a recent job before running for federal office.

There are a combined 35 professors running for the Liberal, NDP, and Green, while the CPC has four.

Almost a third of the PPC candidates didn’t have their professional experience publicly listed, and so couldn’t be categorized.

In some cases—for the PPC and gaps in other parties—that may signal they’re placeholder candidates that national parties put on the ballot to make sure all 338 ridings are covered. Many of the more minimalist biographies appeared for candidates running in long-shot ridings— facing off against some Conservative candidates in Alberta, for example.

More than 100 PPC candidates didn’t have a website—mostly in Quebec where the party leader Maxime Bernier is trying to keep his seat, Newfoundland and Labrador, and P.E.I.—with many using Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter profiles as their primary place for campaign communications.

That’s likely more a function of them being a new party rather than any particular attempts to hide, said Mr. Thomas, noting it was the party without a standardized web template for candidates.

Their candidate pages were also more likely to have gaps in personal information, focusing instead on issues, values, and platform promises.

“Possibly because it’s a new political movement with distinct political philosophy, people were trying to demonstrate their commitment to cause as compared to lay out their professional experience,” he said. That kind of signalling also came out with Green candidate, he noted, with nearly all biographies making references to environmental commitments.

Liberals have highest education

The analysis also tracked when candidates cited educational experience, ranging from college degrees up to a PhD. More than 200 of each of the Conservative, Green, and Liberal candidates have undergraduate degrees or higher, while the NDP reported 148 and the PPC, 95.

To Mr. Thomas it was “quite striking” to see so many Liberals (141) with postgraduate degrees. Liberal candidates most commonly had PhDs (19), followed by the Greens (11), and the Liberals also have the most masters and law degree holders (122), followed by the Conservatives (97).

Education level Bloc Québécois Conservative Green Liberal NDP People’s Party of Canada Grand Total
Undergraduate degree 29 106 121 78 77 61 472
Post-graduate degree 18 97 74 122 64 29 404
PhD 1 7 11 19 12 6 56
Community College 4 14 19 4 10 15 66
Trade certification / license 1 9 13 2 5 7 37
Total 53 233 238 225 168 118 1035

Though a complete picture can’t be captured as candidates are inconsistent with the amount of information they publicly share about their background and qualifications, Prof. Thomas said how political candidates present themselves matters, as does the experience they choose to highlight.

The low numbers is likely due, in part, to underreporting as both were less consistent with the biographies on party websites.

Even if under-reported, candidates are more likely to be higher educated than the average citizen. In 2016, 54 per cent of Canadians had college-and-above qualifications, compared to at least 58 per cent of those on the ballot this year.

Top occupation, by category

Occupation Bloc CPC Green Liberal NDP PPC Grand Total
Business (owners, entrepreneurs, consultant, realtors) 7 113 54 84 25 70 353
Government (all positions, excluding MPs) 8 51 17 50 34 14 174
Education 17 20 41 36 40 13 167
Law 3 27 10 50 19 9 118
Health care + social work 5 16 18 23 28 10 100
Trades, engineering, construction 3 8 18 6 11 32 78
Media / communications 4 19 9 16 5 8 61
Arts/Entertainment 5 2 26 4 15 3 55
Student 4 1 17 3 23 48
NGO 3 6 13 7 17 46
Military, police, and corrections 1 15 4 4 3 11 38
Agriculture 1 13 7 4 3 4 32
IT sector 2 5 8 2 4 7 28
Restaurant, service and retail 2 3 4 1 12 4 26
Labour / union 3 1 2 16 22
Director / manager 1 2 1 6 3 3 16
Sales 2 4 2 3 1 12
Human resources
3 3 3 1 1 11
IT sector 2 3 2 2 2 11
Scientist 4 3 1 2 10

Top occupation, by job title

Title Bloc Québécois Conservative Green Liberal NDP People’s Party of Canada Total
Business owner 1 42 23 24 7 32 129
Lawyer 3 26 10 46 16 8 109
Teacher 7 8 19 7 15 4 60
Student 4 1 17 3 23 48
Professor 2 4 7 14 14 4 45
Farm / agriculture 1 13 7 4 3 3 31
NGO Director 3 5 6 4 11 29
Entrepreneur 9 9 4 5 27
Engineer 1 3 8 4 3 7 26
Municipal councillor
8 1 8 6 3 26
Armed Forces 1 10 3 2 1 7 24
Political staff, federal
9 7 8 24
Consultant 6 4 7 4 2 23
Social work 3 2 6 3 8 22
IT sector 2 3 7 2 1 6 21
Realtor 3 5 4 2 2 3 19
Public servant, provincial 3 5 3 4 2 2 19
Nurse 1 1 2 3 9 2 18
NGO staff 1 7 2 6 16
Trade 2 2 1 5 6 16
Service industry 2 3 7 3 15
Business manager 2 6 2 1 4 15
Journalist 7 2 4 1 14

Source: Business tops experience among 2019 candidates, one-third have run for office before

Liberals step up attacks with 2 weeks left, but Conservative campaign most negative, data shows

Nice to see this kind of social media analysis. But depressing the reliance on negative attacks by both major parties:

The Conservatives lead other major federal parties in the amount of negative attacks on Twitter and in press releases this campaign, but at the midpoint of a close race the Liberals are increasingly turning negative, an analysis by CBC News shows.

CBC News analyzed more than 1,800 press releases and tweets from official party and party leader accounts since the start of the campaign. We categorized them as either positive, negative, both positive and negative or neutral. (See methodology below.)

Overall, the Conservatives have put out the highest volume of negative communications to date, the analysis revealed. The party tends to put out communications attacking the Liberals about as often as they promote their own policies.

That doesn’t mean the Conservatives were the only party to go negative early on. At the outset of the campaign, the Liberals went after Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer on Twitter for his 2005 stance on same-sex marriage and other Conservative candidates for anti-abortion views or past social media missteps.

But almost half (47 per cent) of Conservative communications have been negative or partly negative. The share of negative messages is 37 per cent for the NDP, 26 per cent for the Liberals, 18 per cent for the Greens and 13 per cent for the Bloc Quebecois, which has run the most positive campaign.

Liberals, NDP step up attacks

While the Conservatives have been consistently negative since the start of the campaign, other parties have become markedly more so in the last two weeks.

The uptick in attacks appears to be driven by two factors: the climate marches across the country on Sept. 20 and 27 and the French-language debate hosted by TVA on Oct. 2.

The NDP and Greens took aim at the Liberals’ environmental record around the time of the climate marches. It was also during the last week of September that the Liberals announced a number of environmental policies they would enact if re-elected, which were promptly criticized by the NDP and Greens.

The tone of Liberal communications turned markedly critical during the TVA French-language debate on Oct. 2. This was the first debate Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took part in, and the Liberal war room put out press releases and tweets countering statements made during the debate by Scheer and the Bloc Quebecois’ Yves-Francois Blanchet.

The TVA debate also marked the first instance during the campaign of the Liberals targeting a party other than the Conservatives with critical tweets and press releases. The party took the Bloc leader to task over his environmental record, among other things.

Liberals the target of most attacks

The Liberals were the target of more than two-thirds (70 per cent) of negative or partly negative communications.

The Conservatives have yet to target a party other than the Liberals with a critical press release or tweet.

The Liberals also have been the primary target of the NDP and, to a lesser extent, the Greens.

While these two parties may be closer ideologically to the Liberals than to the Conservatives, the NDP and Greens are focused on stopping progressive voters from rallying around the Liberals. University of B.C. political science professor Gerald Baier said this reflects a coordination problem on the centre-left.

“The NDP and Greens, I think, would presumably prefer the Liberal record on the environment to what the Conservatives would do, but at the same time their main points are against the existing government,” he said.

The lack of Liberal attacks on the NDP and the Greens is telling, Baier said.

“It suggests that they know that their path to a majority to some degree is to appeal to some of those NDP and Green voters,” he said.

It also could be because the Liberals may need the support of those parties to govern in a minority Parliament, Baier added.

NDP and Green attacks against the Liberals have focused largely on the environment, while the Conservatives have zeroed in on themes of accountability, taxes and spending.

Environment, taxes the two biggest themes

Much of the official party communications focus on the campaign trail, specific candidates and where the party leaders are.

The two policy exceptions are the environment — a popular subject for all parties except the Conservatives — and tax policy, on which the Conservatives have focused. Affordability and housing are also common themes.

Methodology

CBC News analyzed every press release and tweet from official party and party leader accounts since the start of the campaign. We categorized each communication as positive (if the focus was promoting a party’s own policies or candidates), negative (if the focus was criticizing another party), both positive and negative (if the communication was equally split between the two) or neutral (leader itineraries, event announcements). We also kept track of the topics of communications and who, if anyone, was targeted.

We did not include retweets and treated identical tweets in English and French as one communication.

To keep the project’s scope manageable, the methodology excludes other platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, radio, television and print ads.

Source: Liberals step up attacks with 2 weeks left, but Conservative campaign most negative, data shows

Adams and Parkin: Voters need to be suspicious of all the magical promises from politicians

Indeed:

Voters have changed. Deference to authority has diminished: People no longer respect political leaders’ ideas and judgment simply because of their status. Party loyalty, once an intergenerational commitment for many families, has waned. Increasingly, people shop around for appealing platforms and telegenic leaders, changing parties from election to election.

Little wonder, then, that politicians sometimes seem almost intimidated by these fickle voters. Almost no seat is truly safe; no segment of the electorate can be taken for granted. Each voter must be carefully wooed with tailored promises and inoffensive messages. This courting may be eminently democratic but there is a downside: Politicians have become even more shy about telling voters the hard truths they’d rather not hear.

Fewer than one-in-five Canadians favour a government that’s smaller and offers fewer services. So it’s not surprising that election campaigns focus on how to expand services such as child care, health care and pharmacare.

Meanwhile, many Canadians express concerns about the cost of living. A growing proportion say they’re dissatisfied with the availability of good, affordable housing in their community, for instance. And so voters – especially those in the coveted and ill-defined “middle class” – are offered new tax credits to help them keep up with expenses.

More services and lower taxes. If you think this sounds too good to be true, you’re out of step with most Canadian voters, who seem to see no contradiction.

Our society has changed a lot since Jean Chrétien won re-election, even after breaking his 1993 promise to axe the hated goods and services tax. He kept the tax, brought the budget back to balance and remained prime minister. But since Stephen Harper reduced the GST to 5 per cent from 7 per cent after his victory in 2006, no politician has dared suggest it be restored to the previous level to pay for all the services and programs that people want.

Similarly, faced with the squeeze of public finances in the wake of the economic downturn in Alberta, the new premier of that province is more comfortable pointing the finger at Quebec than entertaining the prospect of a provincial sales tax at home.

Even in the face of what we are now rightly calling a climate emergency, the main leaders vying for the keys to 24 Sussex are promising all gain with no pain.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax comes with a promise to send out rebate cheques that will ensure most Canadians are no worse off. The Conservatives think even that is too risky. They would prefer to find ways to sell green technology to developing countries, so Canadians can actually profit from the hard work of global emissions reduction.

Either or both of these might be workable policies. Yet, it is still remarkable that in an election taking place in 2019, political parties feel compelled to reassure voters that they can save the planet at no net cost to people like themselves.

Politics have always involved a little magical thinking, with politicians using spending to attract new voters before the election, and only sheepishly getting around to dealing with the inevitable costs later on. Very often, the buy-now-pay-later approach is premised on the assumption that current levels of growth and tax revenues will continue into the foreseeable future.

“Elect me and I’ll make sure we’re well braced for an inevitable downturn,” a candidate might say, but this tends not to do well in focus groups as a campaign slogan. With deficit financing back in fashion, a more freewheeling approach to politics is easier than ever – at least until interest rates balloon debt servicing costs and bring us back to the budget shocks of the mid-1990s.

If there is any real difference between today and past eras of political overpromise, it’s perhaps the absence of a traditional left-right schism between the two main parties that can conceivably form government after this Oct. 21 election.

Voters are being asked to parse the different redistributive effects of competing tax credits, the different scale of investments in public services and the different timelines for returning the budget to balance. This leaves the economists with lots to argue about.

The average voter, however, is left feeling both flattered with all the attention, and a little suspicious. As the two most powerful parties promise that Canadians can have it all, without sacrifice, surely some voters have a sneaking feeling there’s something important they’re not being told.

Conservatives, Liberals rank economy high in immigration file, but diverge on integration, cultural values, says survey

What one would expect given other polling data but still of interest:

Conservatives and Liberals tend to agree that jobs and the economy should rank high when it comes to the immigration file, but concerns for the plight of refugees and integration of immigrants depends on where one falls on the political spectrum, suggests a new study released today.

Whereas many Conservatives prioritize on cultural values, national security, and jobs, the Liberals and NDP place less importance on those concerns, according to a survey from the Digital Democracy Project, a months-long effort that the Public Policy Forum and McGill University’s Max Bell School of Public Policy are leading.

“Partisans differ in terms of what they’re talking about when they talk about immigration, what dimensions … they think about,” said Peter Loewen, a political science professor at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, one of the report’s authors.

Respondents were asked to rank eight dimensions related to immigration, including social services and welfare; diversity and multiculturalism; and illegal immigration, were of high concern.

For example, Conservative partisans expressed more concern over illegal immigration than other partisans, with 42 per cent saying it’s a concern, compared to 28 and 27 per cent of respondents who identified as Liberal and NDP supporters, respectively, the survey suggested.

The data, based on an online panel survey of 1,559 Canadians, was conducted from Sept. 11 to 16. Online polls are not considered to be truly random and cannot be assigned a margin of error.

There are marked differences between the Liberals and NDP on the immigration file, too. NDP supporters rank Canada’s responsibility towards welcoming refugees as higher on the list over jobs and the economy, while Liberal supporters indicated it as less of a priority, with 29 per cent choosing it as a top concern, compared to 44 per cent who identify with the NDP.

Researchers also found that most Canadians are misinformed about Canada’s immigration levels and refugee intake. Asked how many refugees Canada admitted in 2018, only 12 per cent answered correctly, 61 per cent were unsure, and 24 per cent said it was higher than the actual figure of 28,000.

“The worrying takeaway is that the more people are exposed to traditional news, to social media, the more likely they are to give incorrect answers about immigration levels, refugee intake levels,” Prof. Loewen said. “People are taking misinformation from somewhere in the ecosystem.”

Nativism could also explain differences in views on immigration policy, the report noted. In seeking to measure the level of nativist sentiments with a series of questions, researchers found that while Canadians “exhibit modest levels of nativism,” Liberal and NDP supporters have lower scores than Conservative supporters. (To measure respondents’ openness to nativist sentiments, they were asked to rate six statements, including whether they agree “immigrants take jobs from real Canadians” and if Canada “would be stronger if we stopped immigration,” on a five-point scale.

Attempts to provide information on the economic benefits of immigration had an influence on respondents’ perception of immigration, according to the study. Half of respondents were given an excerpt from a 2018 Conference Board of Canada report that said immigrants are key to economic growth. Among those who weren’t given the report, 23 per cent said immigration was bad for the economy and 57 per cent said it was good. Those figures changed slightly to 19 per cent and 63 per cent among those who viewed the report.

“While theories of motivated reasoning suggest that partisan respondents will reject information that doesn’t conform to their existing values or beliefs, the effect of this intervention was stronger for right-leaning partisans than for left-leaning partisans,” the report noted. “…This suggests that providing the public with relevant information could also influence their opinions on public policy, and that nativism is not as much of an immutable sentiment as commonly believed.”

Though Canada isn’t immune from nativist and populist sentiments, the report noted that such expressions don’t mimic the trends in the U.S. and “far-right parties in Europe.” The report suggested that the embrace of populist sentiments is “most common” among NDP supporters than Liberals, while the Conservatives are in between.

Previous studies from the Digital Democracy Project have looked at how Canadians consume and share media and its effects on their support for policies in the lead-up to the federal election.

Source: Conservatives, Liberals rank economy high in immigration file, but diverge on integration, cultural values, says survey

41 circonscriptions multiculturelles pourraient faire pencher la balance

Some interesting on the ground reporting in addition to the overall story:

Le Canada compte désormais 41 circonscriptions composées majoritairement de minorités visibles. C’est huit de plus que lors des dernières élections fédérales. Ces champs de bataille clés, souvent des comtés pivots, pourraient jouer un rôle décisif le 21 octobre. Les conservateurs qui avaient perdu la grande partie de ce bloc en 2015 sont-ils mieux placés pour regagner ces sièges?

Quelque chose d’ironique s’est produit dans la circonscription d’Ajax, en banlieue de Toronto.

Elle a connu la plus forte hausse de résidents issus des minorités visibles. Un bon de 11 % en 5 ans.

L’ironie? Ce comté était représenté par l’ancien ministre de l’Immigration, Chris Alexander, défait en 2015.

C’est lui qui avait présenté la promesse électorale conservatrice d’instaurer une ligne de dénonciation pour signaler des cas présumés de pratiques culturelles barbares. Cette annonce lui a collé à la peau et s’est ajoutée aux prises de position controversées des conservateurs, tant sur la révocation de la citoyenneté que sur le niqab.

Tout cela allait être néfaste pour Stephen Harper et son parti, qui avaient mis tant d’efforts à conquérir les communautés culturelles.

Linda et Ernest Ombrog d’origine philippine sont assis sur un banc.

Linda et Ernest Ombrog, d’origine philippine, demeurent à Ajax. En cinq ans, cette circonscription à l’est de Toronto a connu la plus forte hausse de population de minorités visibles au Canada.

PHOTO : RADIO-CANADA / MARC GODBOUT

À la gare de train de banlieue d’Ajax, un couple originaire des Philippines attend le prochain départ. Linda et Ernest Ombrog ont entendu parler de cet épisode même s’ils sont arrivés au Canada après l’élection fédérale de 2015.

Nous n’avons pas tout à fait confiance, dit Ernest Ombrog. Je ne crois pas que nous voterons pour les conservateurs, ajoute sa femme.

Quelques mètres plus loin se trouve Abdol Nadi, un chirurgien devenu chauffeur de taxi. Cet Afghan raconte que la plupart des immigrants qui se sont installés à Ajax dans les dernières années sont surtout originaires du Tadjikistan, de l’Inde, du Pakistan et de l’Afghanistan. Plusieurs sont ses clients.

Abdol Nadi, d’origine afghane, est au volant de son taxi.

Abdol Nadi d’origine afghane est au volant de son taxi à Ajax, en Ontario.

PHOTO : RADIO-CANADA / MARC GODBOUT

Je sens une méfiance chez certains, à tort ou à raison. Même si je trouve que les libéraux sont loin d’être parfaits, je préfère encore les appuyer, affirme-t-il.

Les stratégies de campagne de 2015 semblent toujours avoir laissé un goût amer, à tout le moins dans ce comté.

De 33 à 41

À l’époque, Ajax ne faisait pas encore partie des circonscriptions fédérales dont la population est majoritairement composée de minorités visibles. Elle est une des huit circonscriptions qui se sont ajoutées à la liste depuis 2015.

Andrew Griffith, expert en multiculturalisme, a décortiqué les données. Cet ancien haut fonctionnaire du ministère de l’Immigration constate que 27 de ces 41 circonscriptions sont situées en Ontario, 9 en Colombie-Britannique, l’Alberta et le Québec en ont chacune 2 tandis qu’une autre se trouve au Manitoba.

On ne peut pas gagner de gouvernement majoritaire sans gagner ces comtés-là.

Andrew Griffith, expert en multiculturalisme

Lors du scrutin de 2015, les libéraux ont décroché 85 % de ces circonscriptions, 35 sur 41. Les conservateurs et les néo-démocrates ont dû se contenter de trois sièges chacun.

La population du comté de Scarborough-Nord, en Ontario, est composée à 92 % de minorités visibles. Au Canada, 17 circonscriptions fédérales ont maintenant une population composée de plus de 70 % de minorités visibles.

Andrew Griffith explique qu’on ne peut plus parler des populations immigrantes comme d’un bloc monolithique. Les groupes qui sont arrivés il y a 20 ans ont peut-être une tendance à être plus conservateurs. Mais ceux qui ont suivi ne sont pas liés automatiquement et continuellement à un parti politique, précise le chercheur.

Les placer dans des cases précises serait une erreur, selon lui. Ils peuvent faire un virage plus à gauche comme ils peuvent faire un virage à droite.

Ce sont des circonscriptions pouvant passer d’un parti à l’autre. Bien entendu, cela a une incidence constante sur les stratégies électorales des différents partis.

Andrew Griffith, expert en multiculturalisme

Une photo d'Andrew Griffith.

Andrew Griffith, expert en multiculturalisme et ancien haut fonctionnaire au ministère de l’Immigration.

PHOTO : RADIO-CANADA / MARC GODBOUT

En 2011, les conservateurs avaient gagné la majorité de ces comtés. En 2015, ils sont passés aux mains des libéraux. Et fait à considérer, lors de l’élection provinciale ontarienne de 2018, Doug Ford et les progressistes conservateurs les avaient presque tous raflés.

Kenney, la carte maîtresse?

Les conservateurs aimeraient bien pouvoir compter sur le premier ministre albertain Jason Kenney dans cette campagne pour venir donner un coup de main à Andrew Scheer dans certaines de ces circonscriptions en Ontario. Ce scénario est toujours sur la table même si aucune stratégie n’a encore été arrêtée.

Jason Kenney, autrefois ministre de l’Immigration du gouvernement Harper, avait été l’architecte de la grande séduction du Parti conservateur à l’endroit des communautés culturelles.

Mais le simple fait de vouloir avoir recours au premier ministre albertain démontre que les efforts de rapprochement n’ont pas été suffisants depuis l’arrivée d’Andrew Scheer à la tête de son parti, estime Ghanaharan S. Pillai.

L’interaction entre les communautés et le Parti conservateur n’est plus celle qu’elle était sous les années Harper.

Ghanaharan S. Pillai

Pourtant, ils auraient une occasion à saisir.

Selon cet animateur à la radio et télévision tamoule de Toronto qui observe depuis des années le jeu politique dans les communautés culturelles, Justin Trudeau ne jouit pas nécessairement de la même popularité qu’en 2015. Si les libéraux ont maintenu leur base, ils ne l’ont pas pour autant élargieajoute-t-il.

Mais les conservateurs ne contrôlent pas tout. Au-delà du travail sur le terrain, pour Ghanaharan S. Pillai, le principal défi pour eux est de surmonter un obstacle susceptible d’avantager ses adversaires : Doug Ford.

Le premier ministre ontarien a été porté au pouvoir notamment grâce à l’appui de cet électorat composé majoritairement d’immigrants. Or, depuis, Doug Ford a particulièrement mauvaise presse dans les médias multiculturelsconstate Andrew Griffith qui analyse régulièrement leur contenu. Ils sont très sévères à son endroit.

Le facteur médiatique

C’est un facteur non négligeable.

Il existe pas moins de 600 médias multiculturels au Canada. Plus de la moitié se trouvent dans la grande région de Toronto. Leur influence est importante dans les communautés.

Un résident de Brampton, en Ontario, lit un journal en pendjabi.

Un résident de Brampton, en Ontario, lit un journal en pendjabi.

PHOTO : RADIO-CANADA / MARC GODBOUT

Dans ses émissions de radio, Ghanaharan S. Pillai est à même de constater le sérieux bris de confiance envers Doug Ford qui s’est créé après à peine 15 mois.

À quel point cette méfiance se répercutera-t-elle contre Andrew Scheer?

À quel point le chef conservateur réussira-t-il à faire oublier les stratégies de campagne de 2015?

L’enjeu est majeur. Après tout, 41 circonscriptions, c’est désormais 9 de plus que celles des quatre provinces de l’Atlantique réunies. 41, presque le même nombre de sièges qu’en Colombie-Britannique.

Source: 41 circonscriptions multiculturelles pourraient faire pencher la balance

Canadians in every riding support climate action, new research shows

Different take than national and provincial polling but interesting approach to riding-level analysis. Others better placed to comment on the methodology:

Canada is gearing up for a big election this fall and climate policy will likely be at the centre of debate. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are trumpeting their carbon pricing policy, while Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives want to get rid of it. Meanwhile, Elizabeth May and her newly relevant Greens think Canada must do more to manage the climate crisis.

But where do Canadian voters stand on this issue?

Our research team, based at the Université de Montréal and the University of California Santa Barbara, has new public opinion data to answer this question. Using recent statistical and political science advances, we can estimate Canadian opinion in every single riding across the country (except for the less densely populated territories, where data collection is sparse). And we’ve released on online tool so anyone can see how their local riding compares to others across the country.

Canadians are concerned about climate change

Our results reinforce what is increasingly clear: climate change is on the minds of Canadians, and not just in urban or coastal communities. A majority of Canadians in every single riding believe the climate is changing. The highest beliefs are in Halifax, where 93 per cent of the public believe climate change is happening.

Percentage of Canadians, by riding, who believe climate change is happening. Author provided

And a majority of Canadians in all but three ridings think their province has already experienced the impacts of climate change. These beliefs are particularly high in Québec, where 79 per cent feel the impacts of climate change have already arrived.

Canadians also want to see the government take the climate threat seriously.

A majority of voters supports emissions trading. Carbon taxation is more divisive, yet more people support carbon taxation than don’t in 88 per cent of Canadian ridings.

And the handful of ridings that don’t support the Trudeau government’s carbon pricing policy — Fort McMurray-Cold Lake, for example — are already in Conservative hands.

 

In other words, the path to a majority government — or even a minority government — goes through many ridings where Canadians are worried about climate change and want the government to take aggressive action.

Compared to the United States, the Canadian public believes climate change is happening in far higher shares. Even Canadian ridings where belief in climate change is the lowest have comparable beliefs to liberal states like Vermont and Washington. Overall Canadian support for a carbon tax is higher than support for a carbon tax in California, often thought of as the most environmentally progressive U.S. state.

Percentage of Canadians, by riding, who believe their province has already been impacted by climate change. Author provided

Importantly, support for specific climate policies remains high in provinces that have already implemented climate laws. For instance, support for a carbon tax in British Columbia, where this policy was introduced in 2008, is the second highest in the country at 61 per cent (Prince Edward Island has the highest support). Similarly, support for emissions trading is second highest in Québec, again just behind P.E.I., where a carbon market was implemented in 2013.

Even Conservative ridings want action

We don’t find evidence of a backlash to carbon taxes or emissions trading — Canadians living in provinces with substantive climate policies continue to support them. Instead, we find substantial support for climate action in the ridings of Canadian politicians who have done the most to undermine Canada’s climate policy.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s provincial riding matches up with the federal riding of Etobicoke North, where 62 per cent of the public supports emissions trading. In other words, Ford ignored the majority will of his own constituents when he acted to repeal Ontario’s policy last year.

Riding-level public opinion estimates for the Saskatchewan riding of Regina-Qu’Apelle, currently represented by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. Author provided

The same is true federally. In Scheer’s own riding of Regina-Qu’Appelle, support for carbon taxation is at 52 per cent. Only 41 per cent of Scheer’s own constituents oppose a carbon tax. He too is offside with the people he represents.

The political risks of opposing climate reforms

Our results emphasize how the media can sometimes misinterpret electoral mandates. In Ontario, Doug Ford promised to repeal the province’s emissions trading scheme — and won. But the former Conservative leader, Patrick Brown, supported carbon pricing while enjoying a comfortable lead in the polls.

There are lots of reasons why Canadians choose to change their government, but opposition to carbon pricing hasn’t been one of them.

Climate science is clear on the need to rapidly decrease greenhouse gas emissions to avert the most disastrous consequences of climate change. As a northern country, climate impacts in Canada are already larger than in other places.

 

Our research, which the public can explore, shows that Canadians everywhere — from the most Conservative to the most Liberal ridings — are united in understanding that climate change poses a major threat to the people and places they cherish. The coming election will provide an opportunity for Canadians have a say in the future of climate policy in their country — and all Canadian politicians should take note.

Source: Canadians in every riding support climate action, new research shows