Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Minorities and Elections in Canada's Fourth Party System: Macro and Micro Constraints and Opportunities

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Minorities and Elections in Canada's Fourth Party System: Macro and Micro Constraints and Opportunities

Article excerpt


This study identifies the factors associated with the nomination and election prospects of ethnic and visible minority candidates in three federal elections held between 1993 and 2000. We conducted a statistical analysis of how party affiliation, the geographic location of a riding, incumbency, local party competitiveness, riding cultural heterogeneity, campaign spending, minority competition, and a candidate's racial or ethnic background influenced electoral outcomes for 3,634 candidates. We found that ethnic and visible minority nomination and election rates did not slip from their climb in the third party system, but have stalled. Furthermore, macro factors such as party affiliation and geography did not generally account for differential election rates between Charter group and non-Charter group politicians. Instead, local party competitiveness and campaign spending were better predictors of the likelihood of a minority victory at the ballot box. Visible minorities continue to be underrepresented in candi dacies and in the parliamentary ranks, but there was no evidence to show they competed in unfavourable local contexts. The key to electing more visible minorities lies in recruiting more of these individuals to run for public office.

Cette etude determine les facteurs qui sont lies la mise en candidature et a l'election de candidats ethniques et faisant partie des minorites visibles dans les trois elections federales tenues entre 1993 et 2000. Nous avons fait une analyse statistique de la maniere dans laquelle l'appartnence politique, le lieu geographique d'une circonscription, le titulaire en poste, la competitivite locale du parti, l'homogeneite culturelle de la circonscription, la somme depensee pour la campagne electorale, la concurrence minoritaire et les antecedents raciaux et ethniques du candidat ont influence les resultats dans 3 634 cas. Nous avons constate que le taux de mise en candidature et d'election de candidats ethniques et de minorites visibles n'avait pas regresse dans le systeme en faveur d'un tiers, mais etait demeure au meme niveau. De plus, les facteurs macro tels que 1'affiliation politique et la geographie n'avaient generalement pas d'incidence sur le taux d'election differentiel entre les politiciens des groupes fondateurs et ceux des groupes non fondateurs. Par ailleurs, Ia competitivite locale du parti et les sommes depensees se sont averees de meilleurs indicateurs des chances pour un candidat minoritaire d'etre elu. Les minorites visibles continuent d'etre sous representees chez les candidats et dans les rangs parlementaires, bien qu'il n'y avait aucune preuve que leur contexte locale etait defavorable. Pour elire des minorites visibles, le secret reside dans le recrutement des individus qui cherchent a se faire elire.


The "earthquake" election of 1993 marked a profound transformation in the cast of major characters in Canadian party politics, as well as an important shift in discourse on the subject of integrating minorities in the polity. In the three federal ballots held between 1993 and 2000, two regionally-based parties won significant representation in the House of Commons, as two more established competitors experienced steep declines in electoral support. The parliamentary institutionalization of the Bloc Quebecois (BQ) and the Reform Party/Canadian Alliance, signals not only the emergence of a new era of multi-party competition (Carty, Cross and Young, 2000), but a departure from the previous era's inter-party consensus on the bilingual and multicultural character of the constitutional framework (Clarke, Jenson, LeDuc and Pammett, 1996).

The BQ advocates the establishment of a sovereign Quebec and draws the bulk of its support from Quebeckers with French ancestry. The Reform party and its successor, the Canadian Alliance, have called for the elimination of public funding for programs promoting ethno-cultural minority traditions, and thus draw more support from White Anglo Saxon Protestants (Nevitte, Blais, Gidengil & Nadeau, 2000; Blais et al. …

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