Erin O’Toole promised to remake the Conservative party. So why are your MPs so white and masculine?

OTTAWA – Erin O’Toole’s efforts to show voters that he is not leading his grandfather’s conservatives appear to have nevertheless resulted in a party that looks almost exactly as it has for generations.

Despite presenting what conservatives said was the most diverse list of candidates in their party’s history, only one new deputy was elected from a racialized community, and preliminary results suggest that five racialized rulers were defeated.

That leaves the conservative caucus overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly masculine.

And that also leaves many in the party absolutely furious.

Bert Chen, who represents Ontario on the party’s national council, says O’Toole’s inability to make significant gains, and having suffered losses, within the Asian community is one of the reasons he should lose his job.

“I think one of the failures of Erin’s leadership and national campaign was that Chinese Canadians like me felt uncomfortable and did not have the confidence to vote for the Conservatives,” Chen said in an interview, noting losses in very Asian districts such as Markham. -Unionville.

Chen is collecting signatures on a petition that could trigger a referendum on the party’s leadership long before his next convention in 2023, in which O’Toole would automatically face a vote on his future.

Chen said the conservative campaign failed to balance its tough messages on China with a positive approach to the Chinese community, and left too many Chinese-Canadian voters feeling they had no place in the party.

Several political observers have analyzed the voting results in constituencies with a majority or near majority of ethnic Chinese voters, and concluded that more support for conservatives was lost there than in other constituencies.

A source from the Conservative party, speaking confidentially because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the campaign, said that what happened to the Chinese vote will be examined in a review of the campaign, as the results were highlighted as unusual compared to the elections in 2019.

But the source also said that the Conservatives’ failure to win seats in the country’s most culturally diverse constituencies was a reflection of their broader struggle to reach more voters overall.

Liberals believe their repeated attacks on Conservatives’ gun policies were a factor, noting that Liberal candidates won all six constituencies with the most Chinese speakers, down from three in the last election.

Sukhi Sandhu, an advocate for gang violence who has worked with both liberals and, in this election, conservatives, questions the notion that any issue influenced the so-called ethnic vote, an analysis he calls “archaic.”

But Sandhu says conservatives took too much for granted in their approach to racialized communities, wrongly assuming that these communities share the same “values” as conservatives and should therefore be natural supporters.

“To have an answer that we all have the same values ​​is to have your head in the sand,” he said.

Sandhu believes that the fact that conservatives do not mention systemic racism on their platform or do not discuss it during the campaign will have long-term repercussions.

“It’s coming to our doors to attract our voters, but it doesn’t even face or acknowledge the barriers people face,” he said.

“Until the Conservative Party and the people at the decision-making table open their eyes and see that we are falling behind, you will continue to have a liberal government.”

Liberals were also vulnerable on the issue, but conservatives did not capitalize on that, Sandhu said, pointing to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s track record on diversity in public service and erratic delivery of anti-racism strategies as two examples.

Garnett Genuis, a Conservative MP from Alberta who was re-elected this week, told the Star in August that his party was holding weekly press conferences with multilingual media in an attempt to spread its message in various communities.

The strategy involved highlighting relevant elements of the party’s platform, such as creating a credential recognition task force that would allow newcomers to Canada to find work more quickly in fields for which they are already qualified.

The Conservative party also told the Star that it had recruited candidates who spoke other languages, English and French, to conduct interviews with those media.

However, others suggest that conservatives hindered or circumvented attempts to meaningfully connect with some racialized communities that the party said it wanted to bring into the fold.

“Before the campaign, we made it clear that we had an interest in being a resource (for the party). I think those who are closest to the issues are in the best position to convey that to policy makers, ”said Ako Ufodike, national president of the Association of Black Conservatives.

“Did we get a chance to help shape the platform? The short answer is no.”

Ufodike told the Star that while several political positions hit home, the party’s failure to connect with black Canadians and other racialized communities was a “missed opportunity” given the “climate of social justice” of the past two years. It saw many institutions face systemic racism within their own ranks.

In one example, no conservative candidate attended a virtual election debate on September 16 specifically focused on issues affecting black Canadians.

The Federation of Black Canadians and Black CAN, an organization that empowers Black Canadians to become more involved in politics, led the debate with black candidates from the Liberals, New Democrats and Greens. No conservative or Popular Party candidates attended, despite invitations.

Co-organizer Sherine Spence said her absences left a notable gap in the event.

“I think a greater effort should be made on behalf of all parties, but especially the CPC and the PPC, who say they want to represent all Canadians. Black Canadians are Canadians, ”Spence said.

The Conservative Party did not comment when asked why it did not send a candidate for debate.

He said the Conservatives ran 14 candidates who identified themselves as black or African-Canadian in this election. Only one, former leadership contender Leslyn Lewis, won a seat.


Raisa Patel is an Ottawa reporter covering federal politics for The Star. Follow her on Twitter: @R_SPatel


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