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Conservative Party Needs Multiculturalism 2.0

Politicians learn a few words of greetings in an immigrant's native language and occasionally dress like them for photo ops, but new Canadians are the Conservative Party's untapped, natural vote bank.

The 2011 Canadian federal election resulted in stability by giving majority mandate to the Conservatives during this turbulent global political and economic time.

At the same time, it brought forth a tsunami in the political landscape of Canada. Conservatives need not worry about governing, but they can't ignore the significant political disruption trend lurking underneath.

There was insignificant increase in popular votes (1.96%) for Conservative Party and majority (70%) of that increase came from Ontario only.

The Conservatives' loss of 157,000 votes in Quebec cost half of its previously held seats. As the NDP euphoria and disproportionate disillusionment with Bloc Quebecois settles (separatists' agenda still exists) in Quebec over the next four years and hopefully Conservatives don't raise any major ideological/ emotional debate, it would be easy for the Conservatives to regain at least the lost Quebec seats.

Liberals predict a young national leader from Quebec that would further erode NDP's base in Quebec and will also help reclaim more seats nationally. Over next four years, if NDP and Liberals become reasonably organized and Green party gets focused on party building, Conservatives will be in a tough spot despite doing economically well for Canada. There are examples galore around the democratic world that (aggregate) economic performance of a government doesn't guarantee re-election unless a larger part of the electorate remains connected with the government.

What Conservatives need to worry is the vote mob trend and hope that the Green Party in the interim becomes the balancing party to attract socially conscious voters (young and old alike who won't vote Conservatives) away from the NDP.

The Greens have all to gain and nothing to lose (long-term potential bigger threat) from here on in and Liberals will be in rebound mode. The NDP's socialist agenda and their electoral bubble will be exposed over next four years and history of socialist governance around the world is dismal.

The unique element of Canada is a large and ever increasing number of new Canadians. They arrive in Canada looking for a lawful country, political stability and economic opportunity. They loathed the heavy hand of government in their lives in old country. Their children are encouraged to pursue higher education to become doctors, lawyers or engineers. They want to preserve their values and raise their family and create wealth for themselves. New Canadians are Conservatives' natural vote bank and especially when Canada is inching towards becoming a majority minority country.

Historically, engagement with new Canadians has been very superficial. Politicians discuss immigration issues or visit their temples, mosques, gurudwaras and churches and learn a few words of greetings in their native languages and occasionally dress like them for photo ops.

They visit gatekeepers (more bark and less bite) of these communities or often choose candidates primarily with real estate and insurance industry background, who can hustle and get lots of party members registered for nomination in short time -- sometimes hijacking the democratic process.

The weak party apparatus doesn't encourage star candidates and, as per conspiracy theorists, they are looking for backbenchers only from new Canadians. There is no thought of the "brand" of party with respect to the new Canadians. Rather, they use tactics devoid of any strategic direction or any need to groom credible candidates. This not only short-changes new Canadian communities; in the process political parties and Canada get short-changed too.

The tenacious efforts of Jason Kenney and PM Harper's team have proven that going beyond the superficial mode of engagement has demographic political dividends.

There still is personality-based outreach that others can easily disintermediate. The more stable approach for Conservatives is to engage their "party" apparatus behind government touch point and build a cadre of supporters in each of the new Canadian groups.

For long-term party loyalty and cadre building, engage them with mainstream issues and not play with their old world issues and unwittingly fan the passion that creates divide amongst them and potentially may sour relationship of Canada with their native countries.

Scout for their best and the brightest and move away from quota to competence. Go for their value in governing rather than only vote for forming government. Since Conservatives are in power and they already have made in-roads, it would be easier at the party level to catch up and build deeper relationship with the new Canadian groups while Liberals are still busy dusting themselves off.

As consolidation and restructuring in the left political spectrum takes place, new Canadians could be the Conservative party's insurance, if only they would harness the political dividends from the changing demographics of Canada.

Beyond politics, we also need to build a Canada that would represent multiculturalism 2.0 (what is in it for Canada) beyond just multiculturalism.

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