CBC ran a rather unflattering story that painted the Liberal Party as pandering to ethnic extremists to solicit support. To be fair, there were also references to the NDP and the Conservatives, but the focus was the relationship between the Liberals and dodgy elements within the Sikh community. Ethnic politics is nothing new in Canada, in fact I wondered if the story was nothing more than confirmation of the obvious.
The nature of Canada is such that pandering is a political necessity. Every party has traditional support bases which represent a narrow, and sometimes unattractive, viewpoint. In order to expand support, political parties much "reach out" to sub-sections which essentially operate as interest groups. The better politically organized and cohesive the group, such as the Jewish lobby or the Sikh community, the more you can see disproportionate influence.
No one can deny that the Sikh vote in the last Liberal leadership was a critical factor in deciding the outcome. However, to argue that what transpired represents anything more than the ordinary in Canadian politics is disingenuous- it might just be that the turbans provide the visual that eliminates the normal subtlety. My first political experience was as a 15 year old, wherein I was recruited as a "instant Liberal" to cast a vote for someone I had never met. Ethnic voting as a bloc has a long tradition in Canadian politics.
The Conservatives courtships are less obvious, probably due to the bland white on white imagery, but it still exists (are WASP's a voting bloc?). As a matter of fact, the Conservatives would love nothing more than to usurp the Liberals with ethnics (see Jason Kenney). I see no difference in the herd mentality of the Christian Right in the Conservative Party and the Sikh blocs within the Liberal Party. There are countless examples of pastors asking congregations to select the moral choice, organizing to "get out the vote" and all the other typical tactics. In other words, political parties are nothing more than a coalition of various interest groups at their heart. The NDP's traditional base of "union brothers" is another example of bloc voting.
I'm of the opinion that any support based on narrow cultural or ethnic lines is disturbing and seems to conflict with the notion of individual freedom. However, I see nothing in Canada's political circumstance to suggest that anything will change, anytime soon. So long as sub-sections of Canadians realize that there is power in acting as one, there will always be uneven appearances. Tribalism, it seems, is a Canadian staple.