Shafiq: Getting more immigrants to run for political office means paving the way for active citizenship

Of interest:

Kristyn Wong-Tam just made history. They became the first Asian-Canadian, queer and non-binary person elected to Ontario’s legislature, significantly expanding the vision of what a politician looks like in this country. 

Wong-Tam joins other recent Canadian political “firsts,” including Bhutila Karpoche, the first elected official in North America of Tibetan descent, and Doly Begum, the first Bangladeshi-Canadian woman to be elected in the country.

These leaders share a similar journey that first began with meaningful participation in civic engagement and community work, increasing political engagement, culminating in the decision to run for elected office.

Why does the political engagement of people like Wong-Tam, Karpoche and Begum matter so much?

Seeing a visibly powerful immigrant woman or non-binary person in an elected, decision-making role in the political arena empowers others to do the same. Emerging research shows that visibility and role modelling increases political participation and results in a stronger democracy from more diversified representation.

Higher engagement from traditionally under-represented groups strengthens our social and political fabric, creating more trust in our institutions. This is particularly important now when our democracy is threatened by the rise of misinformation, low voter turnout and a growing distrust of authorities and institutions.

So how can we support civic engagement for future trailblazers like Wong-Tam? In our recent academic and community-based research on civic participation of immigrants and refugees in Canada at the Journeys to Active Citizenship project, we found that the journey starts first with community involvement.

We found newcomers often become involved in local community-based activities before engaging in formal political activities like voting and running for office.

Unsurprisingly, voter turnout amongst immigrants is higher the longer someone has been in Canada. Elections Canada even acknowledges that language can be a barrier to voting for new Canadians, alongside a lack of knowledge of the election process, less awareness of early voting opportunities and a lack of trust in the Canadian political process. However, once immigrants and refugees overcome settlement challenges, they are more likely to vote.

Immigrant women in the past have been less likely to participate in formal political processes, however, they are much more likely to participate in informal civic activities, which often act as a critical stepping-stone to formal participation through actions like voting, writing to your elected representative or running for office.

So how can we bolster opportunities for formal and informal civic participation for immigrants, and particularly immigrant women?

Building social networks has been proven to strengthen integration and belonging and is critical to help immigrants establish trust with fellow Canadians. Enabling community engagement is another key piece of the puzzle.

Creating and strengthening civic education and engagement that is tailored to newcomers, particularly women, would be important to build the skills, knowledge, capacity and confidence that would enable newcomers to engage more fully in Canada’s democracy.

In our interviews and group sessions with immigrants and refugees over the last two years, we found three recurring sources of community: religious spaces, community-based organizations and post-secondary institutions. 

Academic literature also tells us that community-based organizations may act as mobilizing agents for civic participation. Delivering programs through these places of community important to newcomers in their early years would be critical for success.

Supporting programs that bolster opportunities for newcomers to engage in a wide range of community initiatives, such as volunteering, participating in local community events, or joining social clubs, will help foster a sense of trust and belonging in our political processes and institutions, and ultimately lead to an increase in formal political participation.

Canada already benefits greatly from the labour of immigrant women — something that has been highlighted throughout the pandemic. It’s time we included their voices, expertise and experiences in the political process. 

Source: Getting more immigrants to run for political office means paving the way for active citizenship

For campaigns looking to turn support into seats in Parliament, not all ‘ethnic communities’ are created equal

Good overview, particularly the comments by Erin Tolley. Looking forward to the October Census release that will allow for updating of riding demographics in terms of ethnicity, visible and religious minorities:

The conventional wisdom around the potential for so-called “ethnic voting blocs” to swing elections is often overstated, but “parties make a big mistake when they perceive of immigrant and racialized voters as a passive voting bloc,” says political science professor Erin Tolley.

“These are groups that are very politically savvy, and they understand their power and they understand the influence that they can have,” said Tolley, the Canada Research Chair in gender, race, and inclusive politics at Carleton University. “And when parties don’t repay that support by listening to their preferences or by acting to advance their interests, they take that power and they put it elsewhere.”

As communities like Italian Canadians, Sikh Canadians, and Tamil Canadians have each become more established in the country, Tolley said they have “flexed their political muscles” in order to get what they wanted from political parties, and to enter the political arena themselves.

Political commentator Seher Shafiq, a co-founder of the non-profit group Canadian Muslim Vote, said when Canadian Muslims became more organized and dramatically increased their voter engagement levels in the 2015 elections, “all of a sudden we had politicians engaging way more than before.”

“There’s a definite change of tone that wasn’t there before 2015,” said Shafiq, referring to how politicians “at all levels” now pay attention to hate crimes against Muslims, and even to Muslim holidays. Shafiq credits the grassroots organizing of several groups, including the National Council of Canadian Muslims, with increasing community engagement and with grabbing the attention of political parties.

“There’s something to discuss and maybe something to study about how a community that wasn’t organized in the way that the Sikh community or the Ismaili community is, became organized, and how that coincided with a dramatic shift in tone from government, and even to some extent action,” said Shafiq.

Sherry Yu, an associate professor at the University of Toronto who studies multiculturalism, media, and social integration, emphasized the role that so-called ethnic media play in helping new immigrants learn about the Canadian political process, and in boosting civic participation among older immigrants who have been more passive.

Yu told The Hill Times that many communities, especially those that are more concentrated in particular regions, have media outlets and community organizations that reinforce each other, with so-called ethnic newspapers being distributed at local shops and grocery stores.

The Conservatives and the Liberals each had periods during the 20th century where one or the other seemed to have the upper hand in terms of support from immigrants, with John Diefenbaker’s and Pierre Trudeau’s governments each assembling different coalitions of support over the decades. With the Conservatives in the midst of a leadership race, supporters have debated whether the party is doing enough to appeal to a broader voter base and which leadership hopeful can lead the way on that front, with the now-booted Patrick Brown regarded as the candidate who had the strongest ties to cultural and religious minorities.

Tolley said the idea of appealing to immigrant and racialized voters “is not a new idea. It didn’t start with Patrick Brown, it didn’t start with Jason Kenney.”

Under prime minister Stephen Harper and then-immigration minister Jason Kenney, the Conservative Party of Canada made a concerted effort to appeal to communities that had previously been assumed to be steadfastly Liberal out of gratitude for Pierre Trudeau’s policies on immigration and multiculturalism.

The strategy was reportedly born out of a conversation between Harper and Kenney over a pint at the Royal Oak Pub on Bank Street in Ottawa in 1994, when Kenney tried to convince the future prime minister that Canada’s conservative movement should seek out immigrants who shared its values.

Kenney’s packed schedule of visits to temples, gurdwaras, festivals, and other community events, which began during the party’s first mandate when he was secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian identity, earned him the moniker of “secretary of state for curry in a hurry.”

But Tolley warned against giving too much credence to sweeping narratives about so-called ethnic voting blocs. “Immigrant and ethnic and racialized Canadians have policy preferences just like other Canadians,” she said, “and they vote for a variety of reasons. Their ethnic or immigrant background is not the only reason and it’s often not even the most important one.”

“Community by community, some parties and some leaders have had success, but when you look in the aggregate, what they gain from appealing to one community, they often lose from a separate community.”

Tolley said there is “a bit of urban lore” that tends to oversimplify the Harper Conservatives’ success at reaching out to immigrant and racialized voters. She said the Conservatives saw a boost in their vote share from particular communities, mostly non-racialized communities such as Ukrainian Canadians, Italian Canadians, and Jewish Canadians, but that they saw very little support from other groups, such as Muslim Canadians.

“And in the aggregate it didn’t really budge the vote share one way or the other when you compare with other parties.”

Drilling down further into the data, Tolley pointed out that the Conservatives under Harper “were quite successful with Cantonese-speaking Chinese Canadians, but less so with Mandarin-speaking Chinese Canadians.”

Political campaigns looking for cohesiveness and geographical concentration

Carleton University political science professor Erin Tolley says former prime minister Stephen Harper used Senate appointments to boost his party’s connection with immigrant communities. Photograph courtesy of Erin Tolley

For political campaigns looking for the most efficient way to turn community support into seats in Parliament, not all immigrant or racialized communities are created equal. Political organizers are focused on winning ridings, said Tolley, more so than they are interested in expending finite resources on driving up their party’s overall vote count. 

“Groups that are larger in number and are cohesive, and who reside together in a district, that’s the kind of group that a party is going to find very attractive,” said Tolley, “because that is how elections are won and lost.”

“I think that’s why you see parties tapping into Ismaili Muslims or Punjabi Sikhs,” said Tolley, “rather than courting the Black vote.”

“One reason that I think parties have largely ignored Black Canadians is that they don’t know how to tap into that community because it is such a diverse community. It is geographically spread out. And that stands in the way of parties figuring out how to effectively organize within that community.”

Shafiq concurred, saying that the fact that much of the Muslim Canadian community is concentrated in key swing ridings in the Greater Toronto Area contributed to creating a perception among political parties “that this is a community they need to engage.”

Sikh Canadians have been elected in ridings where the community forms a substantial segment of the local population, such as Vancouver and Surrey in British Columbia and Brampton and Mississauga in Ontario, with growing populations around Edmonton and Calgary also electing Sikh MPs.

After the 2015 election, The Globe and Mail reported there were 17 Sikh Canadians elected to Parliament–16 for the Liberals, including several who made it in cabinet, like International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver-South, B.C.)–making Punjabi the third-most spoken language in the House of Commons.

The fact that multiple political parties have sent Sikh Canadians to Parliament means those MPs can serve as a pool of knowledge within their community, and an avenue through which the parties can make further connections within the Sikh community. The first waves of Ukrainian Canadian MPs and Italian Canadian MPs filled the same functions in previous decades.

But getting that first generation of leaders elected to Parliament remains a challenge for communities that are less established on the Canadian politician landscape. In these cases, said Tolley, political parties look to other elected bodies, such as school boards, to identify up-and-coming leaders.

As prime minister, Harper also used Senate appointments as a way “to cultivate leadership within the party,” said Tolley, appointing community leaders to generate goodwill and to make inroads into communities that did not yet have representation in the House of Commons.

For all the complaints that Harper’s government shut out the press during its time in power, it actively sought out and tracked political coverage in the so-called ethnic press. In 2012, Kenney told Alec Castonguay, then chief political reporter for L’actualité, that he made it a habit to read translated versions of the ethnic press every morning, before reading the mainstream national papers.

When Kenney was immigration minister, The Canadian Press reported that the department of citizenship and immigration spent $745,050 between March 2009 and May 2012 tracking media coverage by so-called ethnic or multicultural outlets, including assessments of campaign events and perceptions of Kenney.
Yu, whose research includes comparisons of the Vancouver Sun and the Vancouver Province with two local Korean community newspapers, said this media monitoring was an acknowledgement of the significance of ethnic media, but said she was concerned that the information gathered was not shared with the public.
“Until the release of these documents, we did not know that monitoring was done,” said Yu.

Maturation of a community leads to new demands

As communities become more established in Canada, however, they may no longer be satisfied by a meet and greet with a prominent politician or with a promise that a party will consider a particular policy proposal, said Tolley. “There is definitely evidence of a transformation in political behaviour among community members. Some refer to it as a maturation of one’s political involvement.”

The Tamil community has had several decades to establish itself in the political landscape. It has elected MPs from different parties in ridings in Scarborough, Ont., including Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree (Scarborough-Rouge Park, Ont.), a three-term MP first elected in 2015 who has served as president of the Canadian Tamils’ Chamber of Commerce. Many Tamil Canadians arrived in Canada in the 1980s, during the civil war in Sri Lanka.

Ken Kandeepan, a member of the advisory board for the non-partisan Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC), told The Hill Times that “many people in the Tamil community are actively involved in politics” and that community members have provided “considerable support” to various parties at the federal level.

But, he added, it was “a pet peeve” of his that once the elections are over, “the quid pro quo is somewhat absent.” As an example, Kandeepan mentioned appointments to directorships for government corporations.

“It is unfortunate that once the elections are over, these kinds of outreach are not made to the Tamil community. In asking them for appropriate candidates and individuals to be appointed to these positions, at least to the best of the knowledge of the CTC.”

“So the attitude seems to be ‘please help us,’ and ‘thank you for your help, and we’ll see you at the next election.’” 

Tolley said Kandeepan’s comments are an example of a case where members of a particular community “don’t want to be seen as just a set of votes.”

“They want to be taken seriously, they want to have a voice. They want to be able to run and be successful as candidates supported by parties. And when they are successful, they would like to see themselves in positions of influence. Parties that don’t take that seriously learn pretty quickly that, sure these are potential voting blocs in one’s favour, but they can also shift alliances.”

Source: For campaigns looking to turn support into seats in Parliament, not all ‘ethnic communities’ are created equal

Bell: Kenney’s plan to woo ethnic voters to help him save his job

Back to his days of Minister for Curry in a Hurry:
This is getting to be serious business.
I hear Rishi Nagar on West of Centre, a CBC podcast.When he talks about Premier Jason Kenney courting voters from cultural communities in northeast Calgary in a bid to keep his job it gets me curious.

I decide to give the political deep thinker a call. Nagar also happens to be a heck of a nice guy who knows his stuff.

Nagar is the news director at RED FM, a multicultural radio station in Calgary.

The questions come easily

How many people in northeast Calgary filled out membership forms for Kenney’s United Conservative Party?

Folks who snagged a membership by this past Saturday can register to vote Yes or No next month on the premier’s fate. As many as 20,000 across the province may register. It is an astounding number.

So what is the educated guess, the ballpark number?

Who better to ask than a man who attended a half-dozen Kenney events in the city’s northeast?

He says around 2,000-plus signed up for the premier

The premier. The citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism minister in his previous life in Ottawa.

His job back then was to win new Canadians to the federal Conservative side. Kenney was tagged with a nickname by an MP. The Minister for Curry in a Hurry.

As the premier scrounges for votes in the upcoming vote on his leadership, Nagar mentions organizers from different communities reaching out to their people “to fill the membership form for Mr. Kenney.”

He mentions Hindus and Sikhs and Muslims. He mentions Muslims from Pakistan and Muslims from Lebanon and Muslims from South Africa.

In every event there are forms filled out and collected in groups of 50. The memberships add up, the promises to vote for Kenney.Kenney is a very frequent visitor to the city’s northeast. The premier even goes to very small gatherings, as small as 15 people.

“He’s very happy,” says Nagar, of the premier.

Local members of the legislature, serving under the banner of Kenney’s United Conservatives, are at the back of the room.

It could be Rajan Sawhney or Mickey Amery or Peter Singh.

Nagar cannot say, and nobody knows, how many with UCP memberships will actually vote in Red Deer.

Of course if the UCP decides to have voting in Calgary as well as Red Deer it will be much more convenient.

Ditto if they decide to allow in-person voting in the capital city.

“Mr. Kenney is targeting minority communities here in Calgary. He must be doing the same thing in Edmonton,” adds NagarThe Kenney pitch is first and foremost the fear of the NDP.

Then the fear of breaking up the United Conservatives, an uneasy marriage of convenience with former Wildrosers and former PC types intent on seeing the NDP defeated last election.

Then there’s Kenney on the economy coming out of COVID, pledging to make communities “happy and flourishing.”

Kenney talks a lot about the economy.

The man from RED FM says there is not one single question on the premier’s past comments on the spread of COVID in northeast Calgary or on the issue of hail insurance after the huge storm.

Nagar says just before the Alberta government budget Kenney was “absolutely unpopular.”

After the budget things started changing. He started showing up.

There is “one interesting feature” mentioned. The desire to get a picture with Kenney.

“Whenever there is a photo-op with the premier they forget everything. A picture is important. If I have a picture with Jason Kenney I will hang it in my family room.”

Such is the sentiment.

“There is a lineup for the pictures.”

Nagar says the members Kenney is signing up may not be the deciding factor in his survival but it is big support for him to win.

The premier’s people know they’re in a fight.

They know his approval is nothing to write home about and they don’t talk about it.

They know polls show most Albertans aren’t happy with him.

They emphasize how the UCP could squeak out a win against the NDP, not pointing to the fact some of that UCP vote may come from those who expect Kenney could be gone after his party’s leadership vote

But when the premier is in Calgary’s northeast he is one happy camper

“You can see his tone and language when he departs. He’s super-happy. He’s very confident. His gait is changed. His way of talking changes after seeing all these people.”

Source: Bell: Kenney’s plan to woo ethnic voters to help him save his job

As Tories review election loss, weak support in immigrant communities a crucial issue

Article over-dramatises even if there is a need for a review.
Margins in many of these ridings were relatively small. Moreover, in Ontario, the provincial conservatives swept most of the same seats and, as the article notes, active outreach by Conservatives allowed them to make inroads.
But beyond the 41 ridings, there are an additional 93 ridings with between 20 and 50 percent visible minorities which should also be looked at:
The Conservative Party is only beginning to sift through the data from the 2021 election, but there is at least one warning light flashing red on the dashboard: the party has been nearly wiped out in Canadian ridings where visible minorities form the majority.

Of the 41 ridings in Canada where more than half the population is racialized, the Conservatives won just one in the 2021 election — Calgary Forest Lawn — despite winning 119 seats overall.

Source: As Tories review election loss, weak support in immigrant communities a crucial issue

In Brampton, federal campaign pledges to boost immigration are creating friction among classes and generations

Good longish read, capturing some of the dynamics and different perspectives, highlighting that there is no monolithic ethnic or immigrant vote. New Canadians as well debate immigration levels, integration and the like:

There’s no better place to observe a cross-section of immigration than in a Tim Hortons in Brampton East.

Elderly women in shalwar kameezes who have been in the city for four decades order double-doubles in Punjabi from the international students, some of whom only landed in Canada months ago. Impatient construction workers, lawyers and realtors, almost all of whom are South Asian, idle in the drive-thru, some with Hindi slang on their vanity licence plates, on their way to and from work. Some came on student visas, others as permanent residents. Some were sponsored by family members, others were Canadian-born.

With such diversity, it’s easy to understand how meaningless the label of “immigrant voter” has become.

Ever since Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government overhauled immigration policy in the mid 1970s, ushering in waves of newcomers, parties at election time have worked to capture the support of this population. And for more than a decade, they’ve taken particular interest in Brampton East and a collection of other suburban ridings near Toronto that are home to large immigrant populations. They’ve been crucial election battlegrounds, where party leaders have chosen to make major campaign announcements. Snapping up votes in the region – which has swung both Conservative and Liberal in the past – has become key to winning an election.

As Brampton East has grown into the federal riding with the largest proportion of South Asians (66 per cent), the diversity within its boundaries has grown too, along class, religious, ethnic and generational lines. There are vastly differing opinions in the riding among voters of South Asian origin on housing, jobs and – perhaps most divisive of all – immigration. Securing the so-called “immigrant vote” has become an outdated goal.

“We use these really big macro categories to talk about Canadians like ‘immigrants’ or ‘racialized’ or ‘Indigenous’ and we don’t have a lot of nuance in terms of the different priorities or preferences of the people within those,” says Erin Tolley, a political scientist at Carleton University and the Canada Research Chair in Gender, Race and Inclusive Politics. “I think the [federal] parties are a bit hamstrung when it comes to really understanding these nuances between immigrants from different backgrounds [and] immigrant streams.”

Within Jaskaran Dhillon’s household, the political divide when it comes to immigration strategy is stark. Mr. Dhillon, 22, is the Canadian-born son of parents who grew up in North India and lived in Bermuda before coming to Canada in 1997. He lives with his parents and his grandparents in a house in Brampton East, in a subdivision largely populated by Indians who immigrated in the nineties and aughts. He says he’s had “low-level debates” with family and community members about a hot-button issue throughout the riding: whether or not the high rates of immigration should be curtailed.

Since the Liberals under Justin Trudeau’s leadership came to power in the fall of 2015, winning back every Brampton riding from the Conservatives, Canada has accepted more than 330,000 permanent residents from India – and Brampton has absorbed a disproportionate number of them. Policy makers have promoted high immigration targets as the solution to Canada’s declining birth rate and labour shortage and those newcomers have come here to work in warehouses, restaurants and to drive trucks. This year, the target is landing 401,000 permanent residents, a goal immigration minister Marco Mendicino told the Globe in July his government would “make good on.” But some Indo-Canadians who came in previous waves of immigration, like Mr. Dhillon’s family, ask if this influx of immigrants – including those from India, the top source country – has been too fast.

“Immigrants when they come here kind of want to shut the door behind them,” Mr. Dhillon said of his parents’ generation. When they speak of themselves as the last great generation of immigrants, the ones who properly integrated into Canadian society, he believes they are seeking “validation from white people.”

Coming to Canada from India on a student visa is widely regarded as one of the easiest paths to permanent residency, and in the decade between the 2008-09 school year and 2018-19, the population of international students in Canada more than tripled, with India serving as the top source country for the past few years.

But Binder Singh, who immigrated to Canada in 1975 as a child, says allowing more younger arrivals on student visas or temporary work permits has brought out tensions in Brampton East. International students in particular are frequently the subject of conversation in local WhatsApp and Facebook discussion groups – blamed for the surge in COVID-19 cases in the second and third waves of the pandemic; for adding pressure to the wildly overheated housing market; even for the city’s famously high auto insurance rates.

Mr. Singh draws a distinction between immigrants who arrived in the city during his time and those who have settled in the country over the past few years. Mr. Singh says he believes there is far less integration happening now.

It’s a phenomenon that Victoria Esses, an immigration policy researcher and professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario, has observed in many immigrant communities.

“The more established immigrants come to see themselves as prototypical Canadians,” Prof. Esses said. “These new guys who are coming in, they’re just reminding [the earlier immigrants] that they’re not that far away from them.”

Some of the established immigrants are hostile to any campaigning that might seem as though it’s targeting immigrants or even specifically their own ethnic community “if they think that immigrants aren’t being treated as well as Canadians,” she said. “So they want to dissociate [from the new immigrants].”

Catering to voters who would like to see the flow of immigration slowed could come at the cost of alienating others if it’s construed as racist or xenophobic. Prof. Esses points to the 2015 election, when Conservatives ran a campaign based on so-called “Canadian values” and proposed a tip line to report on “barbaric cultural practices.” Pundits point to this as one of the reasons why Conservatives lost every one of their 11 seats in Brampton and Mississauga that year.

In a paper published this year in the American Review of Canadian Studies, Western University political scientist Zack Taylor argued that the country’s reliance on international immigration for population growth has made it difficult for political parties “to ignore the electoral heft of ethno-cultural communities, which … are concentrated in the Greater Toronto region.”

Since the 1960s, Canadians who are foreign-born have been more likely than those who are Canadian-born to vote for the Liberal Party, but that allegiance began to erode in 2008, after major efforts by the Conservative Party to appeal to racialized immigrant voters.

Jason Kenney, the current Alberta premier who was then minister for citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism in Mr. Harper’s cabinet, was largely credited with helping the Conservatives win every seat in Brampton in 2011 by logging countless hours at gurdwaras, temples and community gatherings in the city, as well as giving interviews to media outlets run by South Asian immigrants.

The party had a strong appeal to the more established immigrants who had climbed their way into the middle class and felt they were paying more in taxes than they were benefiting.

Then came Justin Trudeau in 2015, a fresh new leader for Liberals whose charisma and platform appealed to a large swath of voters. Knowing how key the city was, Mr. Trudeau held his biggest rally of the campaign in Brampton – 5,000 people at the Powerade Centre – and with the Canada Child Benefit and a middle-income tax cut, won back the same middle-class, family-oriented voters the Conservatives had pulled in in 2011.

Mr. Singh said the importance of the individual candidates in Brampton East and surrounding ridings has greatly declined over the past few elections, and the focus is almost entirely on the party leader and platform.

In the 2021 election, the race in Brampton East is between Liberal incumbent Maninder Sidhu; Conservative Naval Bajaj (who ran an unsuccessful campaign in 2015); and the NDP’s Gail Bannister-Clarke. There are more campaign signs up for NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh – who represented this area as an Ontario MPP from 2011 to 2017 – than there are for Ms. Bannister-Clarke. On Wednesday night, in the final stretch of his campaign, Mr. Singh made a stop in Brampton.

Darshan Maharaja, a local political blogger who grew up in the Indian state of Gujarat then lived in Dubai before moving to Brampton in 2004, said many Punjabi Sikhs in Brampton see Mr. Singh (and his brother, who represents Brampton East in the provincial legislature) as one of “their own.”

“Jagmeet is their boy; he became the leader of the party so it’s vital pride for them,” Mr. Maharaja said.

Housing is another critical issue for many residents of Brampton East. When the subdivision of Castlemore was built in the 1990s, there were nothing but fields around it. Homes were still cheap in 2005, when Mr. Dhillon’s parents bought a house in the neighbourhood, but now he and his Canadian-born peers are contemplating leaving Brampton because it’s become so unaffordable.

From 2001 to 2016, the latest year for which data are available, the population in Brampton grew by 82 per cent, compared with 17 per cent for Canada as a whole, and that influx of people has driven up home prices dramatically. In July, the average price for a house or condominium in Brampton was just more than $1-million, the same as in Toronto.

The Liberals, Conservatives and NDP have all promised to increase the supply of housing in Canada through more construction, but also to help young people enter the market. In Brampton, the growing – but often invisible – population of renters wonders how those levers will do anything to improve their situation.

Most of the rental stock for newcomers is made up of apartments carved out of single-family homes – the cheapest options in an overheated market. International students and young workers often crowd into basement units. Fire inspectors have found as many as 20 occupants in a single dwelling, some sleeping on mattresses laid out on kitchen floors.

When Harjot Sarwara first arrived in Canada two years ago on a student visa from Punjab, he lived in Montreal with his wife and their daughter. He was completing a program at a career college, but the French-language barrier made it difficult for his wife to get steady work. So when it came time for Mr. Sarwara to begin his co-op, he and his wife set their sights on the city where so many people from back home had settled: Brampton. But finding a home for their family of three that wasn’t shared accommodation in a basement proved difficult.

“Every time when we ask anybody to rent a house or show a house, they asked what your status is. I said, ‘Yeah, I’m a student.’ They said, ‘No, we will not be giving a home to a student,’” he recounted.

“Due to some of the people from my community who do bad things or they don’t have a good relation with the owner, the whole community is blamed and people like me suffer,” he said.

After two months, Mr. Sarwara was able to find a three-bedroom rental for $2,350 a month. When he and his family moved in, construction was already well under way to convert the basement into a separate apartment.

In the 2019 election, the NDP improved on its previous showing and finished second behind the Liberals in Brampton East, its rise tied to Mr. Singh’s star power and a growing consciousness around worker rights among more recent arrivals and the children of established immigrants.

L6P, a neighbourhood in Brampton East that The Globe and Mail has written extensively about since the spring (the name refers to postal codes in the area), recorded the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 infections in Ontario during the second and third waves of the pandemic, much of that driven by its work force. The same essential workers who were staffing poorly ventilated warehouses and taking crowded transit to work were bringing COVID-19 home in record numbers. Some delayed seeking proper treatment or getting vaccinated because they couldn’t take time off to do so, or were unsure if they qualified, given their immigration status.

Kiran Gill, the daughter of Indian immigrants and a resident of L6P, saw first-hand the desperation of those workers, many of whom were newcomers from India.

During a job at a temp agency that staffs warehouses, Ms. Gill encountered individuals on student visas from India who spoke only Hindi or Punjabi – their English was barely functional – and some boldly asked if they could book hours beyond the 20 they were legally able to work each week, offering to receive their pay under the table.

Working at the agency helped Ms. Gill see how little opportunity there was for even the highly trained professionals who came to Canada with dreams of prosperity.

“I would see people with work permits and [permanent residents] who had great experience from other countries and couldn’t find work so they’d have to go through agencies to at least get warehousing work to make ends meet,” she said.

COVID-related job losses in the city were substantial, with 20 per cent of residents claiming the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit in 2020.

Ms. Gill said the government has to build systems that ensure these workers don’t struggle and add further strains on housing and health care.

Sparsh Sharma, a digital marketer who owns a townhouse in L6P and came to Canada as a permanent resident in 2017, says he often plays down where he lives out of concern for the stigma and stereotypes associated with Brampton and linked to the large population of newcomers. With a labour market made up mostly of low-wage, essential-services jobs, Brampton needs better employment opportunities that will attract and retain individuals like him, he says, who have professional degrees, international work experience and high scores on language proficiency exams.

At the same time, he says the students and those on temporary work permits “are the ones doing the heavy lifting” and are the biggest source of labour in the city. “We enjoy this sort of lifestyle [of greater prosperity ] because they are working behind the scenes for us.”

On Tuesday evening, in the final stretch of campaigning, the Liberal campaign bus pulled up to the Speranza Banquet Hall in Brampton East, where Mr. Trudeau and former prime minister Jean Chrétien spoke. Mr. Sidhu, the incumbent seeking re-election, warmed up the crowd of more than 400 supporters, most of them South Asian.

Though he’s been an MP for two years, Mr. Sidhu spoke little of his record, instead focusing his introduction on his identity – an attempt to connect with as many in the crowd as possible.

He referenced his parents’ backgrounds as Indian immigrants who arrived in the early eighties, toiled at warehouses for 18 hours a day to create a better life for him and his brother.

“This is not just my story, this is the story of so many in this room,” he said.


How ‘minority-majority’ ridings are influencing Canada’s election conversation

Interesting examples of community-specific issues and how they may influence some voters:

When Ally Wong recently launched her website, or (Chinese-Canadians Go To Vote), her intent was to mobilize Chinese-speaking voters in her riding of Richmond Centre.

The B.C. municipality is renowned as perhaps the ultimate Canadian “minority-majority” city, with nearly three out of four Richmond residents speaking a language other than English or French at home.

This cultural diversity is the reason why the bedroom suburb is today the Asian food capital of North America, but it also seems to have contributed to making Richmond into the country’s most politically apathetic city. In the 2019 federal election, Wong’s Richmond Centre riding had the lowest voter turnout of all Canada’s ridings.

Wong is trying to do something about this state of affairs. Her site is providing Richmond constituents with Chinese-language information on how to register to vote, as well as platform details about every major party’s take on issues such as immigration, taxes and housing — topics that are typically of concern to all Canadian immigrants. 

But as she is engaging with voters, Wong has also uncovered another layer of more community-specific, hot-button topics that are not on the national radar, such as the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, heightened China-Canada tensions, and how the Chinese community is portrayed in English media.

“There is much worry in the Chinese community about the safety of our elders. People feel more action is needed from our politicians,” she said in reference to the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic.

“How the Chinese community is portrayed in (English) media is also important, stories need to be more careful so it doesn’t lead to harm.”

These community-specific issues are often invisible to non-immigrant Canadians. They are certainly not the broad, stump-worthy topics such as housing affordability, climate change, and reconciliation, that one would think could — or should — swing a federal election. But they may turn out to be as impactful as any of the spending promises made in this election that seems more defined by general opposition to it than any burning policy question.

Of Canada’s 338 federal ridings, 41 now have populations in which visible minorities form the majority. While there is some evidence to indicate that South Asian and Filipino voters tend to skew to the left and Chinese voters to the right, partisan allegiances can be thin with 400,000 new immigrants arriving each year, all without any deep connection to a particular party. And given the neck-and-neck polling of this current race, the difference between a minority and majority government may come down to how candidates (along with their parties) in these key “immigrant ridings” position themselves — or posture — on what otherwise may seem to be distant matters, such as the Kashmir question, the erosion of democracy in Hong Kong and farming deregulation in India.

In Surrey—Newton, a riding in which approximately 60 per cent of voters are of South Asian descent, the “home country” issue troubling voters is the bleak future of India’s farmers. In September of last year, the Indian government hurriedly passed a series of agricultural bills that India’s farmers, unconsulted, have since vigorously protested despite vicious police crackdowns.

The Indian government argues the bills are necessary for economic reform. The farmers — the majority of whom are family-based enterprises with small holdings — argue the bills will squeeze them off their ancestral rural lands.

For the past nine months, South Asian Canadians from across the country have held numerous rallies and protests in support of their families and brethren back home. In the riding of Surrey—Newton, its current member of Parliament, Sukh Dhaliwal, tweeted in November of last year that he was “very disturbed by the treatment of Punjabi farmers in India” and that he stood “with the #PunjabFarmers”.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government also issued a statement last fall, supporting the rights of India’s farmers to protest. It was strongly rebuked by India’s government.

Gurmant Grewal, a former Conservative MP who represented the Surrey riding of Fleetwood-Port Kells from 2004 to 2015, believes India’s heavy-handed farming reforms could be a swing issue in these South Asian ridings.

“Here in Surrey, you are seeing candidates prioritize Canada-China tensions and the Indian farmer crisis,” said Grewal in an interview with New Canadian Media, a Canadian news outlet that focuses on immigrant coverage.

Even the Bloc Québécois which has traditionally focused its energies on Quebec’s Francophone base, has attempted this election cycle to reach out to immigrants. The party recently issued a statement condemning human rights violations in Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim populated Himalayan region to which both India and Pakistan lay claim.

In 2019, the Indian government abrogated the state’s constitution, and placed control of the region under central authority. Speaking out on behalf of Kashmiris resonates with Quebec’s Muslim voters.

Immigration patterns have continued to reshape Canada’s demographics and the cultural mix in the country’s political ridings. With each election, the diversity of representation in our House of Commons has kept pace with the overall proportion of immigrants in Canada. The total number of visible minority MPs elected increased from 47 in 2015 (14 per cent) to 51 in 2019 (15.1 per cent).

But there is also greater diversity surfacing in the issues that voters are asking about, including topics that otherwise wouldn’t play in a federal election but now do because they are relevant to the voters living in 12 per cent of Canada’s minority-majority ridings. In recent years we have witnessed how a U.S. election can come down to the concerns of voters in a handful of counties in Pennsylvania, Michigan or Florida. We may come to see in a matter of days how a functioning majority in Canada comes down to winning over Chinese or Sikh voters in places like Richmond Centre, and Surrey—Newton by addressing issues only visible in their communities. 


Latif: Tokenistic photo ops are no longer enough in this election campaign

Of note:

This campaign feels a bit strange for me.

I’m not as engaged as I have been in the past, when I was involved with all the federal Liberal campaigns since the 2004 election. I started off as a field organizer, and soon found my niche in community engagement, mobilizing diverse communities. Although I enjoyed my time in politics, I’ve since paused my involvement to pursue other passions, including my academic work. Taking this step back has allowed me to reflect on my efforts, and the progress made in engaging diverse communities in federal elections. 

Nearly two decades after that 2004 campaign, it’s disheartening to see political parties in this election still using the same old tactic of photo ops, unaccompanied by real policy change. But one thing is different this time around: communities are noticing. 

A recent OMNI Filipino report showed Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole coming out of Jollibee (a Filipino multinational fast food chain) in Edmonton. Community advocate Monica De Vera voiced a sentiment that could apply to any of Canada’s diverse communities: “It’s very easy for a politician to go to a Filipino establishment, instead of passing policies that help Filipino people.” 

When I was working in politics, community engagement was about celebrating cultural diversity. I spent my time doing work that would be seen as performative today, such as having politicians attend community celebrations, placing celebratory messages in newspapers on religious holidays, and bringing members of Parliament to mosques, gurdwaras and synagogues. At the time, “showing up” was important; today, it’s no longer enough.

I got so good at my political outreach work that I was actually referred to as the “Jason Kenney” of John Tory’s 2014 mayoral campaign. I didn’t enjoy the comparison, as I prided myself on the authenticity of my community work based on my lived experience, and believed Kenney was insincere. I couldn’t understand why members of so many communities applauded Kenney’s efforts, nor why the media would call him a “kingmaker.”

During his time as minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, Kenney was dubbed the “Minister for Curry in a Hurry,” as he would often show up to Eid celebrations and dragon boat races. But the Conservative party he campaigned under pitted communities against each other, putting regressive policies like the “barbaric cultural practices” hotline in place.

The hypocrisy continues. After the 2017 Québec City mosque attack, Kenney — then a candidate for leadership of Alberta’s United Conservative Party — was quick to speak about his support of religious freedoms on social media. But in his previous role as the immigration minister, he did the opposite and “dictated” a niqab ban at Canadian citizenship ceremonies. This is yet another example of political leaders using rhetoric to win votes in the name of diversity. 

In a recent interview with the Straight, Vancouver-Kingsway NDP incumbent Don Davies decried the candidacy of Liberal Virginia Bremner, a Filipina-Canadian, as containing an “element of opportunism” because of the riding’s diverse demographics. Is it “opportunism” to have candidates that reflect our communities? Davies has since apologized, but the damage is done. Bremner responded via Twitter: “To claim that I lack agency to make my own decisions is sexist, racist, and rife with white privilege. It is an insult to me and all women and women of colour in politics.”

Back in 2004, people from marginalized communities didn’t even think we had an entitlement beyond a simple visit from our leaders. Now, communities expect real tangible change; we speak out and we run as candidates.

Over the past year, we’ve seen the Black Lives Matter protests, a terrorist attack against a Muslim family in London, Ont., anti-Asian violence, and the unearthed bodies of thousands of murdered Indigenous children. And yet, dismantling systemic racism and discrimination is still not the focus of the campaign trail.

Ruby Latif is a Toronto-based community mobilizer, Liberal strategist and a contributing columnist for the Star.


Regg-Cohn: Surprised that some Black people and Latinos voted for Trump? Try looking at them as individuals

Good commentary on the diversity within groups:

In other news, it turns out that more Blacks, Latinos and gays turned out for Donald Trump this time than last time.

Why is that news? The only surprise is that anyone is surprised.

That certain groups are presumed to vote in their supposed self-interest — as determined by other groups who know better what’s best for them — is not merely presumptuous. It’s profiling.

Today, some of the same social critics who warn against stereotyping Blacks or Latinos are now scratching their heads about why they didn’t vote as expected in the U.S. presidential election. Profiling can be perilous.

Today, some of the same social critics who warn against stereotyping Blacks or Latinos are now scratching their heads about why they didn’t vote as expected in the U.S. presidential election. Profiling can be perilous.

It is a human impulse. But impossibly dehumanizing at times.

Profiling seeks out similarities, but it is pointless if we forget individual differences. It relies on the notion that people of similar backgrounds or aspirations hold similar beliefs, live in similar neighbourhoods, and so on.

Profiling seeks out similarities, but it is pointless if we forget individual differences. It relies on the notion that people of similar backgrounds or aspirations hold similar beliefs, live in similar neighbourhoods, and so on.

The biggest problems with profiling are the premises and definitions that underlie it. That more Latinos voted for Trump this time tells us little of interest, because it’s such an imprecise term (and is overshadowed by the overpowering reality that whites voted massively and decisively for him).

Latinos range from anti-Communist arch-capitalists in Miami’s Cuban émigré community to impoverished Honduran refugees fleeing drug wars via Mexico, to second-generation strivers in Texas or Arizona aspiring to join the ruling Republican establishment. Ethnic is not monolithic.

Just as LGBTQ voters can be Republican or Democrat, Latinos are more different than they are alike.

Profiling is a tool and a template. It is a form of demography and part of democracy, for better or for worst — which is why pollsters, political operatives and party fundraisers mine the data to harvest votes and donations at election time.

They’re just more sophisticated than the rest of us in slicing and dicing the fruit salad. They know that skin colour is only skin deep, so they drill down for other demographic details such as education, income, location.

That’s why postal codes are the preferred proxies for pollsters. Yet zeitgeist and zip codes are rarely congruent.

My own education in demographic divisions came when I was posted to the Toronto Star’s Middle East bureau years ago. Despite my background as a political reporter, I only realized as a foreign correspondent how many ways Israelis could be subdivided.

Not merely as hawks versus doves, but ethnic Ashkenazi versus Sephardi; secular Russian immigrants versus ultra-Orthodox Haredi; socialist kibbutzniks versus modern Orthodox Jewish settlers; urban versus suburban; Muslim and Christian Arab citizens versus Jewish citizens; and last but not least, left versus right. The miracle was how quickly those internecine divisions melted away when Israelis faced an external enemy and existential threat; and how quickly the internal tensions returned (Palestinians, too, fought their own civil war in Gaza between Islamist Hamas rejectionists and secular Yasser Arafat loyalists).

The security services typecast people as safe or threatening based not only on background but back story and behaviour — whether at airport check-ins, military checkpoints or political rallies. Which is why Yitzhak Rabin’s security guards let down their guard when a kippah-wearing orthodox Jew chatted them up before assassinating the prime minister — he didn’t fit their Palestinian profile of a clear and present danger.

Stephen Harper’s Tories made inroads in the GTA suburbs by appealing to the traditional values of many immigrant communities that converged with conservatism. His then-minister of multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, once sat me down to demonstrate his mastery of Chinese Canadian demographics — delineating early anti-Communist immigrants from Taiwan, subsequent waves of Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong dual citizens, and more recent (more apolitical) arrivals from mainland China.

The New Democratic Party — founded as an alliance between the co-operative agricultural movement and the labour movement — long ago learned the working class would not reflexively rally to their side. If workers are reluctant to recognize their own enlightened self-interest — rallying to Doug Ford’s Tories even when they campaigned on cancelling a minimum wage hike and then freezing it for years — why are progressives perplexed when Blacks or Latinos warm up to Trump?

Vote-determining issues are more likely to be economic than ethnic, and political preferences are often more idiosyncratic than ideological. That’s only human.

The point is that profiling tells you everything and nothing about people. Just as postal codes are imprecise — people are unpredictable.

Political parties bank on profiling because there’s much to gain from voters and donors, and little to lose from mass mailings or email blasting that misses the mark. The minimal cost of bulk postage and mass spamming is a mere rounding error.

The point is that profiling tells you everything and nothing about people. Just as postal codes are imprecise — people are unpredictable.

Political parties bank on profiling because there’s much to gain from voters and donors, and little to lose from mass mailings or email blasting that misses the mark. The minimal cost of bulk postage and mass spamming is a mere rounding error.

The rest of us can’t afford to be so reckless with our wild guesses, unproven hunches and dehumanizing assumptions. If the penalty of your profiling is an assassin’s bullet, or an airplane bombing, or a human rights humiliation, then the miscalculation yields an incalculable cost.


What We Know About The Latino Vote In Some Key States

Expect to see more detailed analyses over the coming months. But a forceful reminder of the diversity of views among different immigrant-origin communities and the danger of over-generalized political strategies and assumptions:

Democrats’ long-term hopes for electoral success have long cited the growing Latino population in the country. But former Vice President Joe Biden’s performance in heavily Latino areas of key states has concerned members of his party — and may have cost him Electoral College votes, according to groups and activists working to mobilize Latino voters.

Nationally, Biden appears to have gotten support from roughly twice as many Latino voters as President Trump, but that support looked very different depending on where you looked in three key states with large Latino populations.

Democrats were pleased with their performance in Arizona, where The Associated Press awarded Biden the state’s 11 electoral votes early Wednesday morning, while anxiety ran high about the results in Florida, where President Trump’s strength with conservative Cuban American voters helped secure him that state’s 29 electoral votes, according to AP. And while Texas was a long shot for Biden, Democrats had seen opportunity in the explosive growth in the state’s Latino population.

During a post-election virtual press conference on Wednesday, leaders from groups aimed at mobilizing Latino voters expressed frustration that the votes of Latinos were not more aggressively pursued, even as they cheered record levels of turnout among Latinos in some key states.

Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said that the Biden campaign missed an opportunity in Florida and Texas.

“The Democrats cannot take Latinos for granted. I think Biden missed a grand opportunity to have been able to carry both Florida and Texas,” he said. “If he had just invested in the Latino community more, if he had delivered the correct message. The numbers that we’ve seen out of Miami-Dade is he got 250,000 less Latino votes than Hillary Clinton got.”

Leaders in the Latino community have repeatedly stressed the diversity and complexity of the Latino vote, ranging from conservatives with more traditional social views to young liberals. There are first-generation citizens and families who have been in the United States for decades.

President Trump’s reelection campaign has aggressively courted Latino voters in Florida for years, particularly conservative Cuban Americans, in an effort to offset likely losses among suburban voters and seniors. Trump won a significant majority of Cuban American voters in Florida, as Republican attacks on Joe Biden and Democrats as “socialists” have resonated.

While Trump won over Cuban Americans across the state, Biden’s campaign won the other segments of the state’s Latino electorate. But Biden’s support among Florida’s Latinos fell short of the support that Hillary Clinton carried them with in 2016.

Four years ago, Clinton won Miami-Dade County, the state’s largest county where nearly 7 out of every 10 residents are Hispanic, by 30 percentage points, despite losing the state. This year, Biden won it by just seven points.

Biden’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, told reporters on Wednesday that Biden had not underperformed among Latinos.

“We just saw Donald Trump increase his support with the Cuban American vote,” she said. She defended the campaign’s Latino voter outreach program both in Florida and nationally, citing strong Latino support in states like Arizona and Nevada.

Democrats also had high hopes to turn Texas blue, due to a combination of Democratic breakthroughs in the suburbs and demographic change that they believed benefitted them, including explosive growth in the state’s Latino population. Democrats in the state had been focused heavily on the Rio Grande Valley near the southern border with Mexico, but they ultimately came up short.

Garcia and others pointed to Trump’s victory in Zapata County, just north of the Rio Grande Valley, where voters had overwhelmingly backed the Democratic candidate in the past two presidential elections.

“It went from Hillary to Trump. Why? Because the issues of law and order are impacting Latinos quite a bit,” Garcia said. “For example, a lot of the border patrol, law enforcement are heavily Latino in the Rio Grande Valley. So when you are talking about defunding the police, and you don’t stand up to those types of rhetoric, then it leaves an opening for Republicans to come in and take advantage of that.” That’s despite the fact that Biden vociferously opposed defunding the police, something that has support in the Democratic base.

Biden’s strength in Arizona was in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and its suburbs. Biden’s campaign focused its efforts there, and drove up turnout among Latinos there, who are largely of Mexican origin. Strategists say that they believe Latinos younger than 30 to have been decisive in that state.

The Trump campaign also worked to win over Latinos in this state, particularly Latino men, and the president was in the state in the closing days of the election, holding rallies despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: What We Know About The Latino Vote In Some Key States

The “Ethnic Vote” Is a Myth

This is really a disappointing and shallow article and doesn’t look at exit poll and other analyses that analyse ethnic voting patterns, whether by immigrant status, visible minority or religious group.

There is no monolithic ethnic vote and immigrant and visible minorities largely follow the national trend. In the 2011 election the Conservatives won the most ridings in Ontario’s 905 and British Columbia’s Lower Mainland only to lose them in 2015 to the Liberals. Moreover, most Ontario 905 ridings, held by Liberals federally, flipped to Progressive Conservatives in the 2018 provincial election.

Within this broader context, there are some notable differences. In general, earlier waves of immigrants tend to lean Conservative compared to more recent waves who tend to lean Liberal; East Asians (e.g., Chinese ancestry) tend to lean more Conservative compared to South Asians (e.g., Sikh Canadians) who lean more Liberal and NDP. Canadian Jews have shifted from being more likely to vote Liberal to more likely to vote Conservative and Canadian Muslims, feeling slighted by the Conservatives, increased their turnout in 2015 in favour of the Liberals.

So no ethnic vote but ethnic votes:

GATHER A GROUP of Canadian political observers together and sooner or later they’ll start to debate electoral math. This usually involves discussing which political party has an edge with a specific region or demographic group: who attracts more educated or young voters and so forth. In that context, saying that the Conservatives have an advantage in Alberta, for instance, isn’t exactly controversial. But start talking about the so-called ethnic vote and you’ll soon have as many analyses of which party has better chances, and why, as you have analysts.

Although it is often used by media to mean the non-white vote in general, political scientists and consultants use the term ethnic voteto refer to new or newer Canadians who are also visible minorities. The last two federal campaigns were won essentially by winning the seat-rich, and incredibly ethnically diverse, suburban Greater Toronto Area—ridings where visible minorities and immigrants make up a sizeable voting contingent. Accordingly, a clear narrative has emerged among both political commenters and the advisers who help run campaigns: winning the ethnic vote is essential.

All of which presumes that this thing that has been called “the ethnic vote” actually exists. But is it fair to label this the “ethnic vote” instead of the perhaps more accurate “suburban and exurban vote”? Are the concerns of ethnic voters in the GTA markedly different from their white counterparts? There are virtually no data to suggest so.

Political parties like to court the ethnic vote because it seems tactically efficient to do so. Canada has a higher naturalization rate than comparable Western jurisdictions, such as the US and Australia, and while other countries can afford to dial up the xenophobia come election time, Canadian political parties that want to form government do not have this option. (The two most populous and vote-rich provinces, Ontario and Quebec, have the largest proportion of immigrants who have obtained Canadian citizenship.)

In a way, this is good. It means all mainstream political parties must engage newer Canadians. But a cynic might—reasonably—say parties that reduce foreign-born visible minorities of all ages and genders and from all parts of the world to a homogeneous group, and then presume they all think and vote alike, are acting paternalistic, bordering on offensive.

The riding of York South-Weston (in that GTA suburban belt), for example, has a large visible-minority immigrant population, with roughly a quarter identifying their origins in a country in Africa or the Caribbean. Are we to assume that every single Black voter in the riding casts their ballot based on the same set of ideals and issues? Brampton East (Ontario) and Surrey-Newton (BC) both have a majority of residents identifying as having a South Asian background. Do Brampton East and Surrey-Newton have identical electoral politics, devoid of regional distinctions, and mirror each other because of population makeup? Hardly.

This isn’t just a question of being polite or politically correct. To give credence to the idea that there is a discernible ethnic vote, “ethnics” would need to demonstrably vote the same partisan way—both within their communities and across different communities—to an extent that overrides age, gender, education, and other demographic factors that we know shape voting patterns. The pundits who look at regional voting patterns and infer they can be explained because the majority of voters in the area are recently arrived from South Asia or the Caribbean or anywhere else are simply projecting a convenient simplification onto a far more complex situation.

There are, however, some data to indicate that if the members of a certain group feel that they are being negatively targeted, they will vote accordingly. In the 2015 federal election, wearing the niqab during a citizenship ceremony became a hot-button issue, as the Conservatives proposed banning the practice. The Environics Institute conducted a survey of Canadian Muslims at the time; a majority said they had voted for the Liberal Party and that they felt women should be allowed to wear the niqab during citizenship ceremonies. But there is nothing to indicate that this turn to the Liberals was due to some sort of innate political predisposition in this community. What the evidence indicates is that the Conservatives reduced these people to a bloc, and they responded accordingly.

While the electoral math may mean the path to a majority government runs through ethnically diverse suburban ridings, the issues on which the citizens in those ridings vote do not inherently diverge from general population trends. Ethnics do indeed vote, but there is no ethnic vote.

Source:  The ‘Ethnic Vote’ Is a Myth