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.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/politics/political-opinion/2020/11/11/surprised-that-blacks-and-latinos-voted-for-donald-trump-try-looking-at-them-as-individuals.html

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

Diversity Votes — February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (Final report with results 24 February to 1 March 2019)

For background data on the riding demographic, economic, social and political characteristics, see: February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (1-18 January 2019). 

Note: While Chinese in the chart of ethnic media coverage refers to written media, Cantonese and Mandarin to broadcast oral media, I generally summarize all three as Chinese media except where indicated. 

Ethnic Media Coverage

As expected, by-election day generated the most articles since the by-election call, with a mix of pre-result (32) and post-result result (57) articles. Most articles continued to focus on Burnaby South given NDP leader Singh’s successful campaign. The chart below shows the by-election coverage by language from the start of the year (321 articles), along with the breakdown from last week. 

During the past week, while pre-result coverage was Punjabi (43.8 percent)  and Chinese (34.4 percent, almost half of the result coverage was Chinese (48.3 percent) with Punjabi at 29.2 percent. The results were also covered by more language groups, a similar pattern to that of by-election call coverage.

Pre-by-election coverage was a mix of factual stories regarding the three by-elections and articles highlighting the stakes for NDP leader Singh, particularly in Punjabi media. Other articles of note included articles on PPC leader Bernier’s visit to Burnaby South and PPC candidate Tyler Thompson (Punjabi), Chinese Canadian support for the PPC (based on the Star article How Canadian populism is playing out in the Burnaby South by-election), Conservative candidate Shin’s opposition to edible cannabis (Chinese), and NDP candidate in Outremont Sanchez’s comments on what people are talking about, the most interesting being comments regarding NDP leader Singh’s turban (Filipino).

 Commentary was largely analysis of the prospects of NDP Singh in Burnaby South and the NDP more generally, with the general tone being somewhat pessimistic while noting the SNC Lavalin scandal may increase his prospects.

Post-results coverage featured a similar mix of factual stories on the election results, again with the focus on Burnaby South, and how NDP leader Singh “tightened his shaky grip” on his leadership with his win. The anticipated Liberal win in Outremont over the NDP defeat was also covered in some depth as the counterpoint to his win. (The anticipated Conservative win in York South was merely noted.)

Post-results commentary focussed on the immediate impact for the NDP of leader Singh’s victory as well as some broader opinions and analysis on what the results may mean for the October general election. One commentary in Punjabi media noted that Singh’s victory showed he could take on “tough challenges.” Another in Chinese media considered that the Liberals should be considered the “biggest winner” as they appear to have been unaffected by the SNC Lavalin scandal in Quebec while another, also in Chinese media, quoted UBC professor Allan Tupper’s comments that not too much should be read into these results with respect to the general election, a point also covered in Hindi media.

While the strong results of the PPC in Burnaby South were not subject to analysis or commentary in Punjabi media, they did provoke a number of commentaries in Chinese media. One explained Chinese Canadian support as reflecting “church influence, different values of their native country and Canada, and their dissatisfaction with Trudeau” as the main reasons for the Chinese Canadian community to turn to the right (note: Chinese Canadians tend to support Conservatives more than other parties). Another stressed their social conservatism as a reason and a third the PPC’s highlighting the murder of Marissa Shen, allegedly by a Syrian refugee.

See the MIREMS blog for some of the stories being covered: MIREMS blog.

Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party posts mixed-bag results after its first byelection test

Of all the results of Monday’s by-elections, I found this to be the most interesting, given the role that Chinese Canadians appear to have played in the strong PPC result of 11 percent (39 percent of Burnaby South are Chinese origin).

If this pattern of relatively stronger support among Chinese Canadians prevails in the general election, there are six ridings with 40 percent or more Chinese origin (visible minority group) and 12 more with between 20-40 percent, all in BC’s lower mainland or the suburbs surrounding Toronto (the 905):

The fledgling People’s Party of Canada got off to an uneven start in its first electoral test Monday in a trio of federal byelections.

The party, founded last fall by former Conservative leadership contender Maxime Bernier, captured some 11 per cent of the vote in the Vancouver-area riding of Burnaby South but failed to make much of a splash among voters in the rural Ontario riding of York—Simcoe or the urban Montreal-area riding of Outremont where the party had less than 2 per cent of the final tally.

Bernier tweeted early Tuesday that the poor Ontario and Quebec numbers were “disappointing” and said he “expected more” from those ridings while praising the more favourable Burnaby result as “great.”

“Our party was born only 5 months ago!” Bernier wrote. “This is only the beginning of our journey. We are in it for the long haul … Let’s work even harder now to find the best candidates and be ready for the general election.”

Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, a former Christian talk show host who had some name recognition before launching her candidacy, was tapped by Bernier to represent the People’s Party in Burnaby South. She delivered the best result of the night for the new political outfit.

While she was a source of controversy because of some past remarks, Thompson peeled away enough votes from the more established parties to place fourth overall.

Thompson, whose slogan was of “Canada for Canadians,” ran a decidedly populist campaign for Parliament. Thompson has said her base was heavily comprised of evangelical Chinese-Canadian churchgoers in the diverse B.C. riding.

The comparatively strong showing by Thompson — in a riding ultimately won by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh — appeared to cut in to the Conservative party’s results in that riding.

Conservative Burnaby candidate, Jay Shin, captured about 23 per cent of the vote — five points less than what the previous Conservative candidate there managed to achieve in the 2015 federal election. Shin placed third behind Singh and Liberal candidate Richard T. Lee.

In central Canada, meanwhile, the People’s Party proved to be a marginal political force.

For example, in York—Simcoe, Ont., People’s Party candidate Robert Geurts, a criminal defence lawyer, placed a distant sixth out of nine candidates.

Geurts, best known for his past role as a prosecutor during the Paul Bernardo trial, was even outpaced by Dorian Baxter a candidate for the minor centre-right PC Party, an entity with a name similar to the now-defunct Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

Scot Davidson ultimately held the rural seat for the Conservative party with a 20-point margin over Liberal Shaun Tanaka.

Fewer than 20 per cent of registered voters in York—Simcoe bothered to vote in Monday’s contest.

Even before the results were finalized, Bernier tweeted Monday that volunteers should be proud of what they accomplished so soon after the party was founded.

“The hundreds of volunteers who helped our candidates in Burnaby South, York–Simcoe and Outremont can be proud of what they achieved. They blazed a trail that thousands of others will follow across the country in October,” he said.

In Outremont, People’s Party candidate James Seale, a Canadian Army veteran, also failed to post a result better than 2 per cent of the vote.

Seale was a member of the armed forces for more than 30 years, and served overseas stints in Israel, Germany, Haiti and Bosnia before later becoming a military instructor and civil servant.

He said he was attracted to the party because of Bernier’s promise to increase investment in Canada’s defence.

While Bernier’s party disappointed in the Quebec riding, Green party candidate Daniel Green placed third — among the party’s best ever showing in la belle province.

Green, the deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada, posted better numbers than Bloc Québécois candidate Michel Duchesne and Conservative candidate Jasmine Louras who placed fourth and fifth respectively in the riding that was last held by former NDP leader Tom Mulcair.

“The GPC has always been underestimated. But just watch us in October,” Green tweeted Monday in reference to the forthcoming federal election.

While Mulcair won the riding by more than 11 points in the 2015 federal election, Liberal Rachel Bendayan easily captured the seat Monday outpacing NDP candidate Julia Sánchez by more than 15 points.

Source: Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party posts mixed-bag results after its first byelection test

How Canadian populism is playing out in the Burnaby South byelection

Good coverage on the emerging role and tactics of the PPC along with Ekos pollster Frank Graves’ analysis of greater polarization among Canadians.

Ethic media is also picking up on the apparent attraction of some Chinese Canadians to the PPC (see the latest Diversity Votes — February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (17-23 February 2019, last pre-election report):

Twenty minutes before the first Burnaby South byelection debate, a sudden influx of People’s Party of Canada supporters with shiny signs and newly minted pins filled all the remaining chairs in the room.

And they were ready to be heard, not just seen.

The following two debates — attended by roughly 100 people, on average — were dominated by this group’s grievances. They were louder and rowdier and far outnumbered the supporters of any other national party in the House of Commons.

The third debate descended into chaos when the topic of immigration arose, leading to finger-pointing and shrieking in the audience.

“Canadians first,” yelled several in the crowd, donning PPC pins. Roars from the crowd drowned out the candidates as others shouted “racist” and “fascist” in response.

This is one face of an increasingly visible populist movement in Canada. And experts say it’s not going anywhere any time soon. More and more, there is less common ground in what we consider to be Canadian values, and experts say the nation’s shift toward populism heralds a new chapter in Canada’s life. Political discourse is only expected to become more entrenched and vitriolic ahead of October’s general election.

Frank Graves is the president of Ottawa-based EKOS Research Associates. He’s been tracking what he calls “ordered populism” or what economists refer to as drawbridge-up thinking.

While populism can operate either on the left, right or even centre of the political spectrum, Graves said that is not what is emerging in Canada. Instead, it’s ordered populism which is bubbling up in the values of the right and far-right.

Its members are largely religious, have reservations about diversity, are deeply pessimistic about their economic future, are disdainful of media and government and are convinced that climate change matters far less than their own survival.

“What unifies populism is a dispute between the so-called pure people and the corrupt elite. And that is definitely what Trump, Brexit, Ford and the PPC is going after,” he told Star Vancouver.

Maxime Bernier, the leader of the PPC, is speaking a “far more authentic” version of what those in the ordered populist camp want to hear, Graves added.

“One of the big question marks for me (is) will that actually convert into impact in the next election?”

After a messy split with the Conservative Party last year following his loss in the leadership race, Bernier — an MP from Beauce, Que. and a former cabinet minister in the Stephen Harper era — announced the launch of the People’s Party of Canada, made official with Elections Canada this January. He’s since been touring the country.

Burnaby South’s Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson — a former Christian radio host, anti-abortion activist and vocal opponent to British Columbia’s student education plan on sexual orientation and gender fluidity — was one of his first picks to run as a candidate. Her support could be an early indicator of the PPC’s chances in the upcoming general election.

Tyler Thompson will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh — vying for his first seat in the House of Commons — Liberal Richard Lee, Conservative Jay Shin and independents Valentine Wu and Terry Grimwood on Monday in Burnaby South.

Byelections will also be held that day in York—Simcoe, Ont., a seat previously held by former Conservative cabinet minister Peter Van Loan, and in Outremont, Que. The latter riding was home to former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.

Each time Tyler Thompson said “Canadians first,” — which occurred multiple times at every debate — the crowd would swell into visceral cheers. Thompson directly appealed to prevalent anxieties in the riding about public safety as she repeatedly brought up the case of Marissa Shen, a 13-year-old Burnaby South girl who was murdered in the region. A Syrian refugee, who was employed in Canada and had family here, is the accused. Allegations are still being tested in court.

Despite common assumptions that the populist movement camp is dominated by disaffected white males, Thompson’s supporters in Burnaby South are composed of a majority of Chinese-Canadians. She told the Star that’s because of her strong roots in some of the community’s churches.

In an interview with the Star on Thursday, Bernier said his party is indeed populist — but a “smart populist party.”

“Usually when you are a populist politician, you appeal to the emotion of people. I’m not playing with their emotion. I’m playing with their intelligence,” he explained, claiming the PPC is the only party with solid policy platforms. “We are the People’s Party working for the people … and I am proud of that.”

People are finding less and less common ground when it comes to Canadian values — and that is certainly going to matter in the upcoming election, Graves said.

While politics are often fickle and ever-changing, values change at a glacially slow pace. For instance, at the turn of the century Canadians were more “open” when it came to ideological orientation — which Graves said is a terrific predictor of values — 50 per cent of Canadians agreed that they were neither to the right or the left.

But now, Graves said that number has dwindled down to 10 per cent.

“Everybody has picked a side,” Graves said. “You live in two incommensurable Canadas, just as there’s two incommensurable Americas. And U.K. And Ontario. And that’s a daunting challenge.”

Values exist in the cultural realm and provide “moral goalposts” on what people prefer society to look like. Unlike discussions of policy issues, debates on values are emotionally engaging which is why Graves estimates the “narrative” of the right is beginning to dominate.

And on the left, the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, there has yet to emerge a populist movement with an equally emotive narrative. While the right begins to have its own conversations about values, Graves said the “open values” of the centre and left remain consistent between Liberals, NDP, and Greens.

Members of this “open society” outlook favour diversity, immigration, trade and globalization, are optimistic about the future, guided by evidence-based policy and believe that climate change is of high priority.

And the gaps between the two groups could not be larger, Graves said.

Source: How Canadian populism is playing out in the Burnaby South byelection

Diversity Votes — February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (9-16 February 2019)

For background data on the riding demographic, economic, social and political characteristics, see: February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (1-18 January 2019). 

Note: While Chinese in the chart of ethnic media coverage refers to written media, Cantonese and Mandarin to broadcast oral media, I generally summarize all three as Chinese media except where indicated. 

Ethnic Media Coverage

The ongoing focus on Burnaby South continued, in particular given the visit of PM Trudeau to the riding to support Liberal candidate Richard Lee. Overall, coverage remained stable at 26 articles, compared to 25 articles the previous week .

While Punjabi ((30.8 percent) and Chinese (38.5 percent) comprised the majority of ethnic media coverage of the by-elections, this was less than previous weeks. New to ethnic media coverage were two stories covered in Caribbean (English) media.

The Prime Minister’s visit featured was covered by all ethnic media covered during this period and was the focus of virtually all the articles in Chinese media. There was some mention of the ongoing scandal regarding possible interference in the judicial process involving SNC Lavalin and former justice minister Wilson-Raybould. Calls by Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Jagmeet Singh for the PM to waive solicitor-client privilege were reported in Punjabi and Caribbean media.

NDP leader Singh appeared to have more success getting his messages out regarding housing and pharmacare than previous weeks, particularly in the Punjabi media, with only one article reporting on the criticism over the NDP opposing recognition of Juan Gerardo Guaidó as acting Venezuelan president.

In Korean media, there were reports on a campaign event for Conservative candidate Jay Shin attended by Richmond MP Alice Wong as well as a visit by NDP candidate Singh to Northroad Korean town.

 In Urdu media, there was a report on Conservative criticism of the impact of the mortgage stress test on housing affordability.

In Caribbean media, there was coverage of Outremont, largely a profile of Liberal candidate Rachel Bendayan.

 Only two commentaries this week. One article in Punjabi media picked up on the arguments by Macleans writer David Moscrop (What if Jagmeet Singh really did have a $5.5 million mansion? Should we care?) without stating their own position. The other article in Chinese media focussing on Burnaby South provoked a range of comments regarding the prospects of the Liberals in the by-election and the upcoming general election.

Most of the general election coverage continued to focus on the government’s announced measures to reduce foreign interference in the federal election as well as the CBC analysis of the impact of Twitter trolls on political debates in Canada (Twitter trolls stoked debates about immigrants and pipelines in Canada, data show) and the Nanos survey showing that 60 percent of Canadians believe Facebook will have a negative impact on the election (More than six in 10 Canadians say Facebook will have a negative impact on fall election: survey).

Chinese media has also been covering extensively, as one would expect, the ongoing developments of the US extradition request of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, speculation regarding possible additional Chinese retaliation and former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Michael Chan’s concerns regarding anti-Chinese sentiment of the Conservatives and populists.

See the MIREMS blog for some of the stories being covered: MIREMS blog.

Forty-one per cent of Canadians fear racism is on the rise

While I am not sure regarding the soundness of Research Co’s methodology and how it formulates questions, the overall gender, regional, party affiliation and age differences broadly reflect other public opinion research.

Canseco recently did an op-ed (Metro Vancouver voters value issues more than ethnicity | Burnaby Now) where he largely discounted the importance of ethnic vote strategies, legitimately noting that ethnic groups do not vote as a bloc but discounting the electoral strategies (candidate selection, policies) of political parties and the overall tendencies within some groups (e.g., Chinese Canadians tend to the right, Canadian Sikhs to the left, Canadian Jews have shifted somewhat from being Liberal to Conservative supporters):

Over the past couple of years, concerns about racism have entered the realm of international politics. We have witnessed some electoral success by xenophobic parties in Europe, as well as the dreadful statements of a Republican presidential contender in the United States who is now the country’s head of state.

Just last weekend, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam got in trouble over a photograph allegedly taken when he was attending medical school, at a time when he was not young enough to rely on the “boys will be boys” defence. Several professional football players have protested police brutality and racial profiling in the United States.

In spite of what is happening down south and on the other side of the Atlantic, Canadians are not immune to racism. Individuals and organized groups have taken advantage of the anonymity of social media to push a remarkably divisive agenda.

Some politicians have attempted to ignore the controversy. Quebec Premier François Legault recently made an ill-timed remark – on the second anniversary of a shooting inside a mosque that left six men dead – claiming that Islamophobia does not exist in his province. In Ontario, just how and when to resort to the acrimonious practice of “carding” – the stopping and documenting of individuals by police even though no particular crime is being investigated  – is still a matter of debate.

In Western Canada, British Columbia’s provincial government is preparing to re-establish a human rights commission. On the Prairies, provincial administrations have been severely criticized for not doing enough to help First Nations. In Manitoba alone, 11 of the 19 people who have lost their lives in police incidents this century have been identified as Aboriginal.

When Research Co. asked Canadians about racism in the country last month, the results were not uplifting. Two in five respondents to the survey (41%) think racism has become a more significant problem in Canada over the past two years. Women (47%) and Canadians aged 18 to 34 (46%) are more likely to feel this way.

https://public.tableau.com/views/Multiculturalism/Story1?:embed=y&:embed_code_version=3&:loadOrderID=0&:display_count=yes&publish=yes

Quebecers appear to be in tune with their current head of government, with 55% of the province’s residents asserting that racism has not worsened. Conversely, there is one area of Canada where residents are convinced that racism is growing. In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, a whopping 55% of residents think racism has become a more significant problem recently. No other region of the country surpasses the 50% mark on this question.

That a sizable number of Canadians are concerned about racism should lead to a debate over the success of government policies. When Canadians were given a choice, just over two in five residents (42%) endorsed the multicultural concept of the “mosaic” and think cultural differences within Canadian society are valuable and should be preserved. A larger proportion of Canadians (49%) express a preference for the concept of the “melting pot” and want immigrants to assimilate and blend into Canadian society.

While women are equally divided in their assessment of the two concepts, most men (53%) favoured the “melting pot.” And while a majority of those aged 18 to 34 (60%) are fond of the “mosaic,” support for this idea falls to 39% among those aged 35 to 54 and 27% among those aged 55 and over.

On a regional basis, British Columbians are the most enthusiastic supporters of the “mosaic” (52%). A majority of Quebecers (53%) are in favour of the “melting pot.”

The survey shows two in five Canadians reporting an upsurge of racist behaviour and practically half desiring a “melting pot.” When asked directly about multiculturalism, 62% of residents think it has been “very good” or “good” for Canada, while 33% deem it “bad” or “very bad.”

While these numbers would imply success, support for the policy is half-hearted. Practically the same proportion of Canadians regard multiculturalism as “very good” (13%) and “very bad.” The difference in the total numbers amount to the 49% who claim the policy has been “good,” compared to the 19% who say it has been “bad.”

In an election year, it is important to analyze these findings by political allegiance. The voters who supported the Liberal Party or the New Democratic Party (NDP) in the last federal ballot hold similar views on two issues: multiculturalism has been good for the country and the “mosaic” is preferable to the “melting pot.” However, NDP voters are more likely to think racism has become a bigger problem recently (55%) than Liberal voters (40%).

In stark contrast, Canadians who voted for the Conservative Party in the 2015 federal election are unequivocally more likely to say that multiculturalism, as a policy, has been bad for Canada (42%), to express that racism has not become a significant problem in the country (56%) and to choose the “melting pot” (62%). Centre-right parties have never wholly embraced multiculturalism, which is often regarded as a legacy of the Pierre Trudeau era. They are not expected to do so now.

The survey suggests that while Canadians may not love everything about multiculturalism, they are signalling that they can be trusted to handle newcomers in a “melting pot” scenario better than the Americans. In any case, the fact that two in five residents feel that racism is intensifying should be disturbing for policy-makers.

Source: Forty-one per cent of Canadians fear racism is on the rise

Metro Vancouver voters value issues more than ethnicity

I would be cautious in drawing parallels between municipal and federal/provincial elections. The former tend to under-represent visible minorities and other minority groups whereas federal and political parties tend to recruit candidates from the larger visible minority or ethnic groups, as well as developing policies to attract minority voters (e.g., the Conservatives Chinese head tax historical recognition program when they first formed the government).

And nobody I know is suggesting that groups vote as a block. However, exit polls do suggest that groups have overall political leanings (e.g., Chinese Canadians lean conservative, Canadian Sikhs Liberal or NDP).

So the reality is more complex than presented here.

Byelection campaigns can be extremely complex events.

Voter turnout tends to be lower than in a regular electoral contest, when all the seats in a particular legislative body are at stake. Potential voters are often disengaged and disenchanted, and the lack of deep media coverage leads to citizens not even knowing that they have a chance to exercise their franchise.

In the case of the federal vote that will take place on February 25 in British Columbia’s Burnaby South constituency, the presence of the leader of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) in the ballot has certainly added some interest. Jagmeet Singh seeks to be the first leader of the main three Canadian federal parties to represent a B.C. riding since Stockwell Day headed the Canadian Alliance.

The Burnaby South byelection was supposed to be an early test of strength for the NDP leader, as well as an indicator of whether the newly created People’s Party would eat into some traditional support for the federal Conservatives.

The race took a wild swing earlier this month, after a poorly worded statement from Liberal candidate Karen Wang was posted to social media platform WeChat and uncovered by the staff at Star Vancouver. In a span of 32 hours, Wang resigned, asked to be reinstated and flirted with a run as an independent. The Liberals have now named former provincial lawmaker Richard T. Lee as their standard bearer.

Wang’s demotion by the Liberal Party has precipitated a much-needed debate on the way political campaigns in Canada operate when it comes to courting so-called “multicultural” voters.  Political consultants charge fortunes pretending to create a magic potion to engage with particular ethnic communities, and messages are crafted to make candidates appear more in touch with voters who immigrated to Canada. This can backfire quickly, as demonstrated in British Columbia by the 2013 “quick wins” scandal.

In elections of all types – municipal, provincial and federal – there is a tendency to make assumptions based on the demographic characteristics of a particular population. These assumptions are usually incorrect.

Just last year, we were treated to illusory media commentary that suggested that being married to a Filipino woman would propel a Vancouver mayoral candidate to victory. The candidate finished in fifth place, as the supposed Filipino constituency that seemed discernible looking at census data never materialized.

In first-past-the-post elections, the futility of this misleading analysis becomes evident. There is more to a community than the origin of its residents. In Richmond, where 53 per cent of residents are of Chinese descent, three Chinese-Canadian candidates garnered 4,794 votes together. Incumbent Mayor Malcolm Brodie was re-elected with 30,452 votes.

The ability of an electoral contender to connect with voters of a particular ethnicity cannot measured by a last name, origin or ability to feature foreign languages in campaign paraphernalia.

A survey I conducted a few weeks before the 2015 federal election showed that voters in Metro Vancouver of East Asian, South Asian and Southeast Asian descent placed “the candidate’s ethnicity” as the least important motivator for their vote. These “multicultural” voters were moved primarily by two issues: the candidate’s position on issues and the political party they represented.

Contrary to what data-less pundits believe, voters of a particular ethnicity do not cast their ballots as a block. In addition, the efforts of politicians to appear inclusive and mindful do not always move the needle. Last year, 69 per cent of British Columbians said that politicians who show up at ethnic festivals and celebrations are merely pandering for votes and are not truly interested in engaging with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

The proportion of voters who are not amused by public servants suddenly showing interest in ethnic celebrations included 76 per cent of residents of South Asian descent, 70 per cent of Europeans and 62 per cent of East Asians – something to ponder the next time politicians don traditional garb for Vaisakhi.

Regardless of the result in Burnaby South, a conversation about treating “multicultural” voters as a commodity has started. It will be interesting to see if political parties learn from Wang’s demise and work harder on policy development and meaningful community outreach, instead of trying to score points with their last names or birthplaces.

The political climate of the country has evolved to a point where candidates do not need to advertise themselves as “the only [insert ethnicity here] in the race.” Let’s hope that situations like the one that led the Liberals to replace their Burnaby South byelection candidate are the exception – and not the norm – in the next federal campaign.

Source: Metro Vancouver voters value issues more than ethnicity

February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (1-18 January 2019)

As some of you may be aware, I have been working through census data to develop profiles of all 338 federal ridings that focus on key demographic, economic, social and political indicators.

I have been  working with Canada’s multilingual media monitoring service, MIREMS (www.mirems.com) to test out matching their ethnic media coverage with the census data.

The current by-elections provide an ideal opportunity to test out this approach and to assess how useful this could be for this year’s October 19th general election.

Table 1 contrasts some of the key indicators for the three ridings, two urban and one rural. Burnaby South has the greatest number of immigrants and visible minorities, York Simcoe the least, with Outremont in the middle. None of these ridings have a significant Indigenous population. Outremont has the youngest population with the least number of married or common law relationships and the lowest average household size.

York Simcoe, given its lower number of immigrants, has the highest number of citizens of voting age.

Outremont has the highest number of men and women with university degrees, York Simcoe the lowest. Unemployment rates for men and women are highest in Outremont. Median total annual income is highest for men in York Simcoe and lowest in Outremont; for women, it is also highest in York Simcoe but lowest in Burnaby South. The percentage of low income individuals (Low income measure after tax) is lowest in York Simcoe and highest in Outremont for both men and women.

Burnaby South and Outremont elected NDP MPs in 2015, York Simcoe a Conservative. 

The detailed riding profiles are here: 59003 – Burnaby South24054 – Outremont, and 35119 – York Simcoe.

The language most often spoken at home, the indicator that correlates most closely with ethnic media readership, is captured in Table 2. Predominate non-official languages are Mandarin and Cantonese (about 25 percent) whereas Outremont and York Simcoe have few non-official languages most often spoken at home.

Ethnic Media


As one would expect, Chinese and South Asian media dominate in the by-election coverage  given riding demographics, mainly Chinese Canadians, and the highly visible candidacy of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. The ill-advised remarks of former Liberal candidate Karen Wang, her forced resignation and replacement by Richard Lee have further increased the riding visibility.

As a result, of the 97 media articles monitored 1 to 18 January, one third of ethnic media coverage is in Punjabi, with an additional 8 percent in the South Asian English media. Written Chinese media forms one fifth, with radio and TV in Cantonese forming 8 percent and in Mandarin, three percent.

In terms of candidate specific coverage, NDP leader Singh was covered in about two-thirds of the media, with many articles focussed almost exclusively on his campaign and related challenges (e.g., his inability to answer questions regarding the detention of Canadians in China). His Liberal and Conservative opponents were only mentioned in about 15 percent of media, with of course the controversy over former Liberal candidate Wang’s divisive remarks being mentioned. PPC candidate Tyler Thompson was mentioned by close to six percent.  

There was only one article (reprint really of her website bio) focussed on Outremont, a profile of Liberal candidate Rachel Bendayan in Arabic, with no coverage of the Conservative and NDP candidates (Jasmine Louras and Julia Sanchez respectively). Outremont has a significant Jewish population (11 percent in 2011). Bendayan is Jewish (likely Sephardic given her surname) as appears is Louras. Overall voting preferences of Canadian Jews have shifted from Liberal to Conservative reflecting the previous government’s focus on combatting antisemitism and a more overt pro-Israel policy.

Basic news reporting and reprinting of mainstream media news article form the majority of ethnic media articles. However, close to 40 percent of the Punjabi and South Asian English, and about 13 percent of the Tamil media  media are commentary. Only Punjabi talk shows featured by-election coverage (Burnaby South).

Out of the 16 commentaries analyzed, 12 were in Punjabi, three in South Asian English and one in the Tamil media. For the most part, these were more in the form of neutral analysis than presenting opinions. Only three commentaries expressed opinions. All were negative, two were in the Punjabi media (NDP leader Singh’s ignorance of China’s arrest of Canadians in relation for the extradition case of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, former Liberal candidate Wang’s divisive ethnic appeal on social media) and one in the South Asian English media (the same critique of NDP leader Singh).

Next week will likely feature more commentary on ethnic politics given the debate is has provoked among many Canadians, including those in the language groups covered.

See the MIREMS blog for some of the stories being covered: Karen Wang and the ethnic vote: Multilingual media weighs in.

In related election coverage, the Supreme Court of Canada’s striking down the five-year limit for Canadian expatriate voting received coverage, particularly in Cantonese, Chinese and Mandarin media but also with significant coverage in Tamil media.