Tuesday, January 23, 2007

If Harper Is Really Interested In Minorities...

The Institute for Research on Public Policy published an interesting paper, detailing the disparity between urban and rural voters. Just today our Prime Minister was speaking about improving democracy and representation. The Conservatives have also acknowledged a new "outreach" to visible minorities. I think this conclusion is relevant:
¨ In 1996, the value of a rural vote in federal elections was 1.15, compared with 0.96 for all urban visible-minority votes. In short, votes of visible-minority citizens living in urban ridings were worth 17 percent less than their rural counterparts.

By 2001, urban visible-minority voters had seen the value of their votes decline to
0.91, while the value of the votes of all urban voters was virtually unchanged at 0.96 and that of rural voters increased to 1.22. Vote dilution among visible minorities thus worsened relative to both rural and urban voters, essentially due to the fact that visible minorities tend to cluster in urban ridings that already have relatively large numbers of voters.

Given this clustering pattern, and the fact that the Conservative government is planning to grant citizenship to many immigrants currently considered permanent residents, the problem of urban visible-minority vote dilution is likely to worsen.

The paper details possible solutions to ensure fairer representation. I think the Conservative Party should endorse this paper for two reasons. The findings speak to a better democracy, which the Conservatives always claim to champion. Also, and more importantly, what better way to "reach out" to minorities than to endorse a reform which grants more relative power. Any endorsement would be particularly impressive, given the current vote preference of minorities. How could anyone question the sincerity of a party that endorses reforms which could potentially hurt their own political fortunes?

The Conservatives usually fair better in rural ridings, while the Liberals tend to do well in the urban, ethnic areas. If the Conservatives were to endorse such a risky strategy, based on the fundamental principle of equality, then they would enjoy instant, unquestionable integrity, betraying a real sensitivity. Jason Kenney should get a copy of this study, because it might just be the magic bullet the Conservatives crave.


Anonymous said...

If Harper was really really interested in any others but his own crowd, he'd be looking out for our aboriginal citizens rather than holding out on retribution for the Chinese Head Tax by now saying its only for those living or their living spouses.
Apparently, residential school victims don't count. They're living, in spite of it all.
Big mistake, eh?
Guess Harper's push to capture the "ethnic" vote doesn't include first Canadians.

ottlib said...

Many modern democracies have the same problem.

Japan, most of the EU countries, the US and of course Canada all have the problem of over representation of their rural citizens in relation to their urban citizens.

And of course it is nearly impossible to change that because of the political power of the rural areas that results from this situation. It is really a Catch-22 situation.