Why far-right nativist political parties stand no chance in Canada

Bit of a flawed and limited analysis by James Yan.

Canada is more welcoming, accepting, tolerant than other immigration-based countries like the US and Australia. Europe is not a comparator region.

Our history influences who we are, and as Kymlicka and Ibbitson’s popularization (Why is Canada the most tolerant country in the world? Luck), there are unique factors to our history, particularly the (imperfect) accommodation to aboriginal Canadians and more significantly French-English accommodation that provide the backdrop and culture for a more accommodating political culture.

And we recognized, belatedly, many of the unfortunate incidents of our past.

So while demographics now make it impossible, how we got here, and the contrast with other immigrant-based societies, are equally important factors:

In the case of Canada, however, the proportion of Canadian citizens who are foreign-born and the proportion who are members of a visible minority, at 20.6 per cent and 19.1 per cent respectively as of 2011, is simply too high for a nativist party to even be politically viable. Political parties in Canada win elections only by winning the support of a broad coalition of voters, especially immigrants and second-generation immigrants who belong to visible minorities, since they form such a sizable chunk of the electorate. In Canada, any far-right nativist political party will inevitably self-destruct since it alienates the very voting bloc from whom it inescapably needs votes.

In Europe, on the other hand, nativist parties are doing well because the proportion of foreign-born people in most countries is nowhere near as high as that in Canada. According to the United Nations Population Division’s 2013 International Migration Report, the percentage of the population that is foreign-born in most European countries mentioned at the beginning of this article is between five and eight per cent. European countries are also more ethnically homogeneous. This is why nativist political parties in Europe can afford to lose the immigrant and visible minority vote yet still perform so well in elections.

So it seems that hostility towards “outsiders” resembles a bell-shaped curve. These perceived outsiders can be scapegoated up to a certain point, but once they have attained a critical mass in any given country, nativist political parties cease to be politically viable. Luckily, Canada today is positioned on the right side of this bell curve.

Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.

Why far-right nativist political parties stand no chance in Canada | Embassy – Canadas Foreign Policy Newspaper.

How Quebec’s charter turned the Tories into ethnic champions – The Globe and Mail

Another article, by Inder Marwah of University of Chicago, and Phil Triadafilopoulos, of UofT, on how the Conservative Party has learned to embrace the “fourth sister” of Canadian politics (ethnic communities) and how the proposed Quebec Charter has furthered that embrace. Not much new compared to commentary by Tom Flanagan, John Ibbitson or others, but it still is a remarkable change.

How Quebec’s charter turned the Tories into ethnic champions – The Globe and Mail.

Ensuring the electoral and civic involvement of Canada’s immigrant communities

Good piece by Ratna Omidvar of Maytree on some of the challenges in political involvement of ethnic communities. While much of the focus to date has been on electoral representation, more qualified assessment of “back room” involvement and roles and influence of elected representatives (e.g., looking at the current federal and provincial governments, ethnic community parliamentarians largely have secondary roles)l.

Ensuring the electoral and civic involvement of Canada’s immigrant communities.

Multiculturalism isn’t an excuse to import traditions that smack of bigotry

On some of the tensions within the Chinese-Canadian communities, between mainland and Hong Kong origin, between earlier and recent arrivals. Habacon gets multiculturalism right, and the kind of discussions that increasingly take place within families.

Including tensions and discrimination between ethnic communities, not just between the mainstream and ethnic communities, as part of the new multiculturalism priorities in 2010, was overdue.

Multiculturalism isn’t an excuse to import traditions that smack of bigotry.