Ethnic Voter Outreach: Canadian Style

March 29th, 2011 at 9:25 am | 32 Comments |

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In the ongoing Canadian election campaign, drugstore we’re seeing a lot of examples for ethnic outreach done right – especially with the micro-targeted campaign ads that the Conservative Party has recently released in minority languages like Mandarin and Cantonese and Punjabi.

This is an innovation above and beyond the targeting methods in 2008, when they employed marketing techniques to tailor policy proposals to certain voter segments. For example, they gave fictional names to represent hypothetical voters in a group of the population they sought to appeal to.

‘Zoey’ represented an urbanite who eats organic food and is entirely inaccessible to the Conservatives, while ‘Dougie’ is a tradesman from a small town who is in his 20s.

In this election, we now have Alice, Tim, Harry and Nina – all minorities who are Conservative Party politicians, speaking in their native language to members of their ethnic group.

Here Conservative Member of Parliament for Richmond Dr. Alice Wong delivers a pitch to voters in Cantonese.

A similar ad, this time narrated in Mandarin by Harry Tsai, a Conservative Party candidate in Scarborough-Agincourt.

This is the first of two advertisements targeting South Asians; this one features Member of Parliament Tim Uppal making his pitch in Punjabi before switching over to English: “The Conservatives fight for our values: belief in hard work, tradition and the importance of family… isn’t it time we all voted for our values?”

This reflects the strategy that the Conservative Party’s ethnic outreach point man and Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, outlined to FrumForum in a profile we did of him in June 2010:

[N]ew Canadians are naturally conservative in the way they live their lives: they are entrepreneurial; they have a remarkable work ethic; they are… [an] aspirational class; they want stability; they are intolerant of crime and disorder; they have a profound devotion to family and tradition, including institutions of faith,” said Minister Kenney. “That whole spectrum of values is conservative – but they didn’t vote for us.

Kenney and the rest of the Conservative Party are hammering these value points home. In the last of the four videos the Conservatives have released targeting ethnic minorities, MP Nina Grewal tells the viewer:

Indo-Canadians have worked hard to build Canada. Things haven’t always been fair for us, but the Conservatives have always recognized our history and our community sacrifice. The Conservatives fight for our values: belief in hard work, respect for tradition, and the importance of family. That’s why I’m a Conservative – isn’t it time for us to vote our values?

The vote of ethnic minorities are especially crucial for the Conservative Party because they are a mere twelve seats from a majority government, and many of those seats left up for grabs are suburban ridings that have substantial communities of ethnic minorities.

On the other hand, the Liberal Party has decided to take an entirely different approach. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said Monday that he found the use of the phrase “ethnic vote” offensive:

“I think it is contemptuous to tell people we are going to target your religion, we are going to target your ethnicity, we are going to target your national origins. No! We must target the fact they are Canadian citizens,” he said.

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32 Comments so far ↓

  • Nanotek

    “… with the micro-targeted campaign ads that the Conservative Party has recently released in minority languages like Mandarin and Cantonese and Punjabi.”

    smart but what? no snarling “English-only” conservatives in Canada?

  • talkradiosucks.com

    They’re a hell of a lot smarter than most of the conservatives down here, that’s for sure.

    Nanotek: There’s plenty of anti-immigrant sentiment in Canada too. It’s just a lot more below the surface.

    • Carney

      There’s plenty of anti-immigrant sentiment in Canada too. It’s just a lot more below the surface.

      Of a necessity, because expressing a desire to keep Canada Canada rather than a global dumping ground will have you hauled in front of an Orwellian “Human Rights Commission” where free speech is dismissed as an alien, “American” concept, the truth is no defense, there is no right to confront an accuser, and the accused is not informed of the standard of evidence necessary to incur penalties such fines or even a lifetime ban on public discourse.

  • DFL

    Funny that the Canadian Conservatives struggle to win more than 40 % of the vote while American Republicans consider it a disappointment to win as low as 45 % of the vote and yet Mr. Mak and Mr. Frum think that it is the Republicans that can learn something from the Canadian Tories. That’s almost like Rachel Ray presuming she can teach Jacque Pepin to cook.

    • revanche

      As a Conservative, I feel the same way looking south. Even our left wing parties know how to run a surplus and wouldn’t stay in power long if they didn’t. I’ll take Rachel Ray any day. I can’t afford the other guy.

  • Carney

    This is utter and absolute madness. Suicidal folly. In a flourish of destructively ostentatious moral vanity, Western nations compete with one another to prove that each is more aggressively hostile than the rest to its own cohesion, integrity, and the interests of its own defining core populations.

    Canada has better reason than most to understand the deep and ongoing threat to national existence posed by multi-culturalism and multi-lingualism. Just having two languages rather than one has been never-ending national migraine, a source of division so profound the risk of national breakup is constant. And yet rather than learn this lesson and say, “this far and no further”, the asinine multi-cultists are zooming forward and piling on to the problem.

    Why is it that only Western nations are obliged to drown themselves in aliens? Why is it only Western peoples that must treat being reduced to just one group among many, and then a minority, in their own homelands, as somehow an unstoppable force of nature like the tides, rather than a disastrously foolish public policy choice that can and should be halted?

    No one asserts that non-Western nations should import and assimilate demographically significant and even transformative numbers of Westerners, be ever so solicitous toward our culture and language, etc, accept a wholesale and wrenching alteration in the texture and flavor of everyday life. Any such demand is unthinkable, absurd, would be denounced as imperialism and hostile and demeaning to the host peoples and their nations.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    Carney, have you ever lived in Canada? Spent much time traveling there?

    My guess is not, based on your comments.

    Despite what I said — there is certainly anti-immigrant sentiment in Canada — the idea that Carney’s views are widely held there is beyond laughable. The far-right-wing nuttery found down here exists in Canada but where it should be: on the fringe.

    “Funny that the Canadian Conservatives struggle to win more than 40 % of the vote while American Republicans consider it a disappointment to win as low as 45 % of the vote”

    Apples and turnips, of course, since there are many more parties in Canada than in the US.

    • Watusie

      Carney, have you ever lived in the United States? Spent much time traveling there?

      My guess is not, based on your comments.

      The “texture and flavor of everyday life” in the regions of the United States which are nativist and have no visible immigrant communities is about as appealing as re-runs of “Hee-Haw”.

      • Carney

        The “texture and flavor of everyday life” in the regions of the United States which are nativist and have no visible immigrant communities is about as appealing as re-runs of “Hee-Haw”.

        Just as I said above. Status among the Western Left is determined by being more “aggressively hostile than the rest to [the] cohesion, integrity, and the interests of [one's] own defining core populations.”

        Such sneering contempt for one’s own, such eager stepping on the faces of one’s kin to climb for higher moral and social status. Noble, really.

        It’s a form of bragging. “You blue collar losers are threatened by immigrant workers, but I am of a higher socio-economic bracket and will demonstrate this by flaunting my support for mass immigration at your direct expense. I will extend this by being extra solicitous of what I can ‘learn’ from alien ways while subjecting yours to scorn I would be outraged by if directed at anyone else. Finally, while treating the demands of aliens to not only come here in huge numbers but transplant their country’s ways here as not merely reasonable but morally imperative, I will treat your sentiment in favor of preserving your heritage, heroes, holidays, and way of life as wicked.”

        Even the warning signs that abstract-economy knowledge manipulators are beginning to suffer as well are to be ignored with relish. Even if they are engineers, programmers, analysts, etc., those other people are “losers” too – it’s declasse to be at all threatened by immigrants.

        And the wasteland you’ll create in the process you’ll blame on others, I’m sure, rather than your own selfish folly. Why what’s the matter with Kansas? Those stupid bumpkins, failing to eagerly join in the project of their own displacement.

        But if the Third World is so appealing, why not live there? How will importing unlimited numbers of people from the Third World, and assiduously transforming our nation to ensure that it is as much like their home as possible, not make this a Third World nation?

    • Carney

      And TRS, you exemplify Orwellianism. As I pointed out, and as you carefully ignored, what you call “anti-immigrant sentiment” is ILLEGAL in Canada.

      Smugly pointing to a lower rate of its expression there as a true reflection of public sentiment is like Saddam pointing to his 99% electoral victories.

  • DFL

    Yes, but there is only one national conservative party in Canada just as there is in the USA. Harper and the Tories are lucky that there are three major parties left-of-center(Grits, NDP and Bloc Quebecois) and one minor party(the Greens). With the Green voters likely to gravitate to the NDP and the Grits, it is not totally out of the question that a Liberal-NDP-Bloc Quebecois coalition could be cobbled together. Call it an anti-Harper coalition, however unstable.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Yes, but there is only one national conservative party in Canada just as there is in the USA.”

    That’s because the two conservative parties merged. It has nothing to do with “luck”.

    The point remains that your 40% to 45% comparison between the Tories and the GOP is nonsense. If the American system were better set up to handle third parties, the GOP would have ceased to exist a long time ago. With the rise of the “Tea Party”, splits between real conservatives and neo-cons, and the religious right faction tossed in for good measure, that’s more obvious now than it ever has been before. The only reason either of the major parties gets something like 45% is because our political system is stacked against third parties.

    Any party getting 40% in Canada is doing something right.

    Plus, “conservative” doesn’t mean the same thing in Canada that it does here. Most Canadian conservatives would be considered “RINOs” in the US, especially with what the GOP has become today.

  • DFL

    The point is that the American Republicans have nothing to learn from the Canadian Tories. They have been much more successful. Facts are facts. As the only loosely conservative party in Canada, the Tories struggle to muster 40 % of the vote nationally and currently govern because the opposition is splintered. In contrast, even when the Republicans are ineptly led- especially during the late Bush years- they usually get about 45 % of the vote. Even the uninspiring John McCain won 46% in the teeth of economic catastrophe and an opponent who was fresh and charismatic.

    David Frum may wish that the Republicans could learn something from the Canadian Conservatives but he conveniently forgets that Canada and America are two very different countries with wildly divergent histories.

    A point I agree with talkradiosucks is that if the US had a parliamentary government, the Republican Party not only would have collapsed decades ago like the 1850s Whigs, there would be a half-dozen sizable parties of the right in parliament. The Democratic Party, harbor of minorities, bureaucrats, the defenders of the therapeutic state and the social left who collectively support an enlargement of the national state, would be the normal governing majority of America. But America does not and will not have a parliamentary system.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    DFL: You don’t win an argument by simply repeating the same unsubstantiated points. Your comparison is just as nonsensical now as it was two hours ago.

    And while Canada and the US are different, they aren’t *that* different. The Tories may rule because the opposition is splintered, but what matters is why they are *not* splintered. That’s one thing the GOP needs to learn.

    Mak’s article points out another way that the Republicans could in fact reinvent themselves (something this website claims to promote, but really doesn’t most of the time). It may take a few more shellackings until they finally get it through their heads that there is no future in being the party of angry white Christianity-brainwashed xenophobes.

  • lariviere

    I don’t think very highly of the man, but Ignatieff is right. It’s condescending to think conservatives can win votes by spouting glib bromides about ethnic “narratives”. Targeted advertising of this sort has its place in showing that the GOP is open to immigrants, but I think most first and second generation Americans want to be part of the political discussion, not treated like exotic curios.

  • indy

    This is utter and absolute madness. Suicidal folly. In a flourish of destructively ostentatious moral vanity, Western nations compete with one another to prove that each is more aggressively hostile than the rest to its own cohesion, integrity, and the interests of its own defining core populations.

    Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free…as long as they speak the same language and have the same color skin? I don’t know if the statue of liberty has enough room for the change.

    • Carney

      The Statue was not designed or intended as a statement in favor of unlimited immigration, but rather “Liberty Enlightening the World.” The poem by Emma Lazarus was added more than 15 years later. Even that poem nowhere presumes an immigrant pool that is as alien from the host population and as difficult to assimilate as possible. Nor does it presume the suicide that is multi culturalism and multi lingualism.

      Finally even to the extent that the poem and the statue whose meaning it hijacked were ever relevant, that is no longer the case. The US no longer needs large numbers of unskilled immigrants to settle its frontiers and man its factories – in fact on average each such immigrant is a net detriment.

      • indy

        Perhaps you can enlighten us as to which of your fellow humans you find too ‘alien’ and difficult to ‘assimilate’?

        • Carney

          indy, it’s a sliding scale, and numbers matter.

          The further people’s country of origin is from the original British stock of this country – further geographically, linguistically, culturally, and yes ethnically – the more difficult they are to assimilate.

          Difficulty does not mean impossibility. We can and have successfully Americanized people from even the most exotic, remote lands with totally different ways of life. However, doing so is much more difficult, than, say, a middle class Englishman.

          The question then arises, why court difficulty at all (as the insane “diversity lottery” does)? Why not make ease of assimilation a primary criterion for admittance?

          Further difficulties ensue with numbers and other circumstances. It’s a lot easier to handle one maximum-difficulty person than it is 100,000. It’s a lot easier to assimilate a community after an immigration cutoff, than it is when the old country’s culture is constantly reinforced. It’s even harder when they arrive to find multi-culturalism that assures them that they not only can continue exclusively speaking their old language (even to vote!) and living by their old ways that they are ENTITLED to DEMAND this.

        • indy

          So–and correct me if I’m wrong–we should rank potential immigrants by how willing they are to be ‘American’? Would a socialist Brit be in front of or behind an African capitalist? Perhaps there could be a test? And then maybe we could have them swear an oath? Would that work or should we perhaps test DNA? If they are close enough genetically they could come in?

  • DFL

    As for unsubstantiated posts, talkradiosucks(childish nickname, by the way), your little sneer about “angry white Christianity-brainwashed xenophobes” shows how narrow your worldview is and why the left in America, and especially the Democratic Party, do so poorly among white voters. My liberal friend, look at your miserable self and wonder what is wrong with you. Why did white America so soundly reject your nasty left-wing worldview?

  • politicalfan

    Sure, we are not Canada. However, from a human level, we are people. There is much to learn.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    DFL: I’m not a liberal, I’m a libertarian. And what I said about the current version of the GOP is my opinion, and one shared by a lot of people, and for good reason.

    But I guess making incorrect assumptions about my beliefs is easier than actually staying on topic.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “And TRS, you exemplify Orwellianism.”

    Fascinating. You still haven’t answered my question: what personal experience do you have with Canada or dealing with Canadians?

  • WillyP

    the lesson is what, exactly? that a civil society, a nation, can consist of 40 different languages?

    err….

    no.

    canada has had issues with the French language for centuries. i am absolutely against an official language for this very reason. however: political parties should absolutely encourage assimilation, and that includes fluency in the native language of the land.

    language is too important to be made into a pandering issue. you cannot expect 12 different nations (defining a nation as a group of people with a common language) to co-exist under one sovereign government. the history of germany provides us with an illustrative example, as does the balkans.

    immigrants should learn english. 2/4 of my grandparents were raised by immigrants. one was almost certainly raised in italian, but was not encouraged to speak it outside the home. another german, who was also not encouraged to think of german as her language. english is the language of america and it is what should be taught in schools, used in courts and legal documents, and in public. not controversial – common sense… at least if you’re looking to preserve societal comity.

    should mr. mak know this? flq, anyone?

  • WillyP

    I was involved in Canadian politics for 4 years. The Conservative party is not conservative in the sense of American conservatism. They are more like the party of Nelson Rockefeller, Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower. But to those American presidents and their ambitions add socialized healthcare and, well… you get the point. They aren’t conservative, and neither is David Frum.

  • indy

    I find myself sort of, kinda, agreeing with two posts in a row of willy’s (although I agree with the first one on fiscal grounds ONLY). Now I need to reexamine my positions. Or wash my hands. Or something.

  • ScoopAway

    Here’s an example of US conservatives’ ethnic outreach:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTSQozWP-rM

    Gotta fear those Chinese – they’ll own us soon!

  • WillyP

    indy,
    my first post had nothing to do with fiscal issues

    ???

    • indy

      I favor a common single language for public interaction because it is the most efficient, i.e., least costly, option. This country has always spoken many different languages. 40 of them for all I know. I hope it always does.

      This is why I said I ‘sort of, kinda’ agreed with you. I agreed with your conclusion, but not much else.

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