Canadian Political Parties Competing for Immigrant Vote

CIC News
Published: September 1, 2006

With the likelihood of another Federal election looming over Canada’s Conservative government, winning immigrant voters will make all the difference at the polls.

As the Liberal Party of Canada re-groups and inches closer to electing a new chief executive on Dec. 2, 2006, Liberal leader hopefuls are counting on the “immigrant vote” to lead their party to victory once again.

The Liberal Party of Canada knows that if it wishes to assume power they’ll need to tap into Canada’s vast and ever-increasing immigrant constituency, and re-vamping the current Canadian Immigration system has been emphasized in many platforms in the latest Liberal leadership race, most notably in the proposed initiatives presented by Liberal leadership hopefuls Joe Volpe, Gerard Kennedy, Maurizio Bevilacqua, and front-runner, Michael Ignatief.

Canada currently takes in an average of 260,000 newcomers a year, a number which Mr. Ignatieff, says should be increased to "at least" 350,000 newcomers per annum. He feels the current immigration processing system is too cumbersome and is not properly matching applicant qualifications with skill shortages and is also not doing enough to help foreign professionals qualify for practice in their field of expertise in Canada.

He has also gone on record stating that Canada needs to expand the family-class portion of its immigration system, which allows Canadians to sponsor family members who want to become permanent residents of Canada.

The Liberal Party of Canada has traditionally fared well with Immigrant Canadians, however Harper’s Conservative government is attempting to challenge conventional wisdom and position itself as Canada’s new “Party for Immigrants”. The Conservatives understand that if they wish to win the battle for majority status, they’ll have to take the fight to the streets of Ontario’s populous immigrant communities.

In fact, since being in office, the Prime Minister has signed-off on at least a half-dozen policy initiatives which directly affect Canadian Immigrants. "The bar is [set] higher for us," says Goldy Hyder, a Conservative strategist, in reference to his party’s bid to shed any pre-conceived notions of intolerance once associated to it.

Mr. Harper has also claimed that he believes Canada's cultural diversity is its "greatest strength", and has reiterated his government’s commitment to "preserving and strengthening the cultural diversity that makes us strong". There’s no question that Mr. Harper wants to portray his government as “immigrant-friendly”. His government is clearly encouraging a more “grass-roots” approach to electioneering and is engaging Canada’s ethnic constituency at the community level.


Demographically, Canada is being re-shaped by immigration. Assuming no changes occur to the current levels of immigration, fertility rates, or internal migration patterns, the next twenty years, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will swell from five million to seven million people; Vancouver will see its population almost double in size from its current 1.6 million citizens to 2.8 million, and Ottawa’s population will also hover above 1.2 million from the 830,000 people it now has.

A report released by the organization sponsoring this event, Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) states that immigration has accounted for over 70% of the growth in Canada's labour force since 1999. In fact, Canada welcomes more immigrants per capita than any other immigrant-receiving nation.

"More and more, the role of immigration is important," Richard Barnabe, deputy chief statistician for Statistics Canada says. "According to our projections, growth will depend solely on the contribution of immigration by about 2015-2017. However, while metropolitan areas such as Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are benefiting from the current immigration paradigm, rural areas and western provinces, such as Manitoba and Alberta, are struggling to convince people that there is a pleasant alternative to living in the Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver triumvirate.

Amid the current air of international terrorism, Canada has often been chastised for its perceived leniency regarding its immigration industry. Political pundits have suggested that Canada “close its doors” to immigrants as a preventative security measure. Prime Minister Stephen Harper however, has gone on record defending Canada's current immigration policies, noting his commitment to a multicultural Canada.

Share this article
Share your voice
Did you find this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Did you find this article helpful?
Please provide a response
Thank you for your helpful feedback
Please contact us if you would like to share additional feedback, have a question, or would like Canadian immigration assistance.
  • Do you need Canadian immigration assistance? Contact the Contact Cohen Immigration Law firm by completing our form
  • Send us your feedback or your non-legal assistance questions by emailing us at
Top Stories
Which jobs received the most LMIAs in 2023?
Canada’s immigration system proposes changes to the PGWP
The top three universities in Canada according to the 2025 QS World University Rankings
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
More in Study
Canada’s immigration system proposes changes to the PGWP
A picture of a number of new graduates at the graduation ceremony
The top three universities in Canada according to the 2025 QS World University Rankings
Two friends smiling and celebrating their graduation wearing caps and gowns.
Frequently asked questions about summer jobs for international students in Canada
Young african american student girl using laptop sitting on the table at terrace.
What kind of school should I apply to as an international student in Canada?
Two men collaborating on a computer project.
Link copied to clipboard