Thursday, October 2, 2008

Immigrants and Canadian Politics

I have been looking back into Canadian history and I think Elizabeth May of the Greens is the first leader of a major national party in Canada that is an immigrant.

It is interesting that as a nation of immigrants we have never had a major party leader that was an immigrant. Not only is Elizabeth May a break through for the Green party, she is a break through for immigrants to Canada.

We have had many immigrant MPs over the years, and representation of immigrants in the parliament has been good over the last number of elections but there is something of a glass ceiling for immigrants in holding the top offices in the country.

Yes, we have two immigrants as Governor General - but it is a ceremonial post appointed by the government.

BC has had two immigrant permiers in the last generation, but they seem to be the exception when one looks at other provinces. BC was also the first province in Canada to elect a permier that was not a Christian - Dave Barrett is Jewish.

I am curious why immigrants are not getting into the leadership in this nation? The last Liberal Leadership race had two candidates run that were born in Italy, Joe Volpe who killed his slim chances with the air of coruption to his campaign, and Maurizio Bevilacqua who pulled out when he saw his chances of winning were very low.

I am not including people as immigrants that came from the UK during the Imperial Era of Canada - anyone coming here before 1945. This includes the following people:

Conservatives:
John A MacDonald - born in Scotland came to Canada at age 5
Mackenzie Bowell - born in England came to Canada at age 8

Liberals
George Brown - born in Scotland came to Canada at age 25
Alexander MacKenzie - born in Scotland came to Canada at age 20

CCF
MJ Coldwell - born in England came to Canada at age 22
Tommy Douglas - born in Scotland came to Canada at age 6
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