NEWS

‘We live in a globalized world,’ House most ethnically diverse in Canadian history, but still has long way to go: research

A record 47 visible minority and 10 indigenous MPs were elected in this House.

Pictured top to bottom, left to right: Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, Government House Leader Bardish Chagger, Conservative MP Bob Saroya, Liberal MP Chandra Arya, Liberal MP Darshan Kang, Liberal MP Faycal El-Khoury, Liberal MP Geng Tan, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Liberal MP Jati Sidhu, Liberal Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Liberal MP Majid Jowhari, Democratic Reform Minister Maryam Monsef, NDP MP Jenny Kwan, Liberal MP Ramesh Sangha, Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Liberal MP Salma Zahid, Liberal MP Shaun Chen, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, Conservative MP Ziad Aboultaif and Liberal Randeep Sarai. The Hill Times photographs by Jake Wright and the Parliament of Canada

By ABBAS RANA

PUBLISHED : Monday, Nov. 21, 2016 12:00 AM

PARLIAMENT HILL—It’s the most ethnically diverse House of Commons in Canadian history, but it still has a long way to go.

The House is still mostly white, male, and English-speaking, according to a study conducted by Kai Chan, who released his data to The Hill Times, and most MPs are married, 30 per cent are bilingual, 13 per cent were born outside Canada, women make up 26 per cent of the House, 14 per cent are visible minorities, three per cent are indigenous, most studied politics, most were lawyers, and most have post-secondary education.

Among the 338 MPs elected in the last general election, the most common age group is 50-59, 214 MPs are married, and 26 MPs have four or more children, according to Mr. Chan, an expatriate Canadian economist who now resides in the United Arab Emirates and who holds a PhD in economics from Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey.

His research also revealed that 104 MPs, or 30 per cent, elected in the last general election are bilingual; 47 MPs, or 14 per cent, were born outside of Canada; and women make up 88, or 26 per cent, of the House of Commons. Of the 47 MPs, or 14 per cent, who were born outside of Canada, 11 were born in India; six in the U.K.; and four in Lebanon. And the 291 MPs, or 86 per cent, who were born in Canada, 28 MPs, or about 10 per cent, were born in Montreal; 25 MPs, or nine per cent, in Toronto; and 12 MPs, or four per cent, in Winnipeg.

  

The last federal election delivered a landslide majority government for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s (Papineau, Que.) Liberals and elected the most diverse group of MPs with a record 47 visible minority MPs, 10 indigenous MPs, and 88 female MPs.

Visible minorities make up about 19 per cent of the total Canadian population and the 47 visible minority MPs form about 14 per cent of the current House. Also, indigenous peoples make up about four per cent of Canada’s population, but the 10 MPs constitute about three per cent of the House.

In the last election, the Liberals won 184 seats, the Conservatives won 99, the NDP 44, the Bloc 10, and the Green Party won one seat.

The 184-member Liberal caucus includes 39 MPs from visible minorities and eight indigenous MPs. In total, MPs of colour from 25.5 per cent of the caucus.

  

In the 99-member Conservative caucus, six MPs are visible minorities but there are no indigenous MPs. Visible minorities represent six per cent of the Conservative caucus.

The NDP elected two MPs each from visible minorities and indigenous Canadians and they represent nine per cent of the caucus.

In the 2011 election, there were a total of 308 seats in the House, but the Commons increased by 30 seats in the last election. In the 2011 election, 28 MPs were visible minorities and seven were indigenous MPs. The Conservatives, under former prime minister Stephen Harper, won the government with 166 seats, followed by the NDP with 103 seats, the Liberals 34, Bloc Québécois four, and the Green Party one seat.

at-trinity-college_l-1200x800

Kai Chan provided his research on the demographics of the House of Commons to The Hill Times. Photograph courtesy of Kai Chan

This is the second time that Mr. Chan, 41, who was born in China but emigrated to Toronto at the age of four with his parents, conducted his democratic research on MPs. The first time was in 2014 on MPs who were elected in the 2011 federal election. Mr. Chan, a distinguished fellow with INSEAD, a graduate business school in Abu Dhabi, said he’s interested in the demographics of the House of Commons. He said he relied on a variety of sources to conduct his research including parliamentary, political parties’ and personal websites of MPs, as well as other publicly available data.

  

Mr. Chan’s research revealed that when it comes to age, seven MPs, or two per cent, in the current Parliament are under the age of 30, while 12 MPs, or three per cent, are over age of 70. The majority, 110 MPs, or 32 per cent, are between 50 and 59 years old; 89 MPs, or 26 per cent, are between 40-49; 68 MPs, or 20 per cent, are between 60-69; and 52 MPs, or 15 per cent, are between 30 and 39 years old.

The national average age is 40.6.

The Bloc Québécois’ caucus is the youngest with the median age of 43; the NDP’s caucus average age is 49.5; the Liberals’ average age is 50; and the Conservatives’ average age is 52.

In the most common occupation category, Canadians elected 60 MPs who are lawyers, or 18 per cent; 47 MPs, or 14 per cent, are consultants; 43 MPs, or about 12 per cent, are professors; 42 MPs are businesspeople and 41 MPs are executives. Some 63 MPs studied politics, 60 studied law, 27 studied business and 27 studied economics.

As for language proficiency, 104 MPs, or 31 per cent, described both English and French as their preferred language of communication; 199 MPs, or 58.9 per cent, prefer English; and 35 MPs, or 10 per cent, prefer French only.

In the marital status category, 214 MPs, or 63 per cent, are married and 124 MPs, or 37 per cent, are in the unmarried or unknown category.

Mr. Chan’s study also found that 24 MPs have one child; 80 have two children; 58 have three children; and 26 have four or more children. Some 150 MPs either have no child or it was unknown if they have any children.

In the education category, Mr. Chan discovered that a 257 MPs, or 76 per cent, have some sort of post secondary education. Some 16 MPs, or four per cent, have a college diploma, 136 MPs, or 40 per cent, have a bachelor’s degree, 75, or 22 per cent, have a master’s degree and 30 MPs, or eight per cent, have a PhD.

Some 81 MPs have secondary or a lower level of education.

The Liberals lead the pack with 22 MPs who have doctorates, followed by the Conservatives with five MPs, the NDP two, and Bloc one MP.

The Conservatives have the highest number of MPs who have either secondary or lower education with 42 MPs, followed by Liberals with 27, the NDP with eight and the Bloc with four MPs. The Liberals are far ahead of other parties when it comes to MPs who have master’s or bachelor’s degrees with 47 and 82, respectively. In the Conservative caucus, 14 MPs have their master’s degree and 31 MPs have their bachelor’s. On the NDP side, 12 MPs have their master’s and 19 have their bachelor’s degrees.

Amongst MPs who earned their post-secondary education, 32 attended the University of Toronto, 22 went to McGill University in Montreal and 16 attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

In an interview with The Hill Times, Mr. Chan described himself as “data junkie” and someone who is curious about Canadian politics.

He said the current House is one of the most diverse in the history of Canada, but also said more work needs to be done to improve the representation of visible minorities in the Commons proportional to Canada’s overall population. He also pointed out that some visible minority groups, such as South Asians and West Asians are overrepresented in the Parliament while most others are underrepresented.

According to the 2011 National Household Survey, the total Canadian population is 32.8-million. Of that, 6.2-million, or 19 per cent, are visible minority Canadians, including 1.5-million South Asians, 1.3-million Chinese Canadians, and about 945,665 black Canadians. The Filipino Canadian population numbers 619,310, the Canadian Latin American 381,280, the Canadian Arab 380,620, the Canadian Southeast Asian 312,080 and the Canadian West Asian 206,840. And the total aboriginal population is 1.4-million.

South Asian Canadians make up 25 per cent of the total visible minority population, but elected 51 per cent of the 47 visible minority MPs in the last election. West Asian Canadian make up 3.3 per cent of Canada’s visible minorities, but won 21 per cent of the visible minority MPs, and Chinese and Southeast Asian Canadians form about 26 per cent of the visible minority population, but only 12.7 per cent of MPs from this heritage are represented in the Commons.

“Canada is such a diverse country, it’s good to get all different voices,” Mr. Chan said. “It’s especially good because we live in a globalized world, and for Canada to really capitalize on its demographic dividend, we really should have all those people at the table.”

Mr. Chan added that all political parties must make an effort to recruit more candidates from visible minorities who are still underrepresented in the Parliament.

Pollster Greg Lyle of Innovative Research in an interview with The Hill Times said that the election of a record number of visible minorities in the last federal election sent a strong signal to all Canadians including visible minorities that they can win in the next election too. He predicted that with this message, more Canadians from visible minorities will run for federal office next time.

“It might create the mobilization within the Chinese community that say, ‘Well, if the doors are open for the visible minorities, let’s say it’s open to us too,’” said Mr. Lyle.

Rookie Liberal MP Geng Tan (Don Valley North, Ont.), who was born in China and moved to Canada about two decades ago, said the relatively low representation of East Asian Canadians in the House is likely because, as new immigrants, most people from his community are more focused on establishing themselves and families first in their adopted, new country.

Mr. Tan said his and the success of other MPs of East Asian origin may inspire others from this community to seek political office at all levels of government. Mr. Tan predicted that a significant number of Chinese Canadian candidates will run at all levels of government across the country in the coming months and years.

“I can sense there will be some change from those communities,” said Mr. Tan.

The Hill Times

Ethnic origin of MPs by political party           
PartyAboriginalBlackEast AsianLatin AmericanMultiracial / OtherSouth AsianSoutheast AsianWest Asian / ArabWhiteMinorityTotal
Liberals75310230713846184
Conservatives0010120293699
NDP2010001040444
Bloc0000000010010
Green00000000101
Total95511251928256338
Age group of MPs by political party       
PartyUnder 3030-3940-4950-5960-6970+Total
Liberals3265562317184
Conservatives115213424499
NDP27121112044
Bloc14130110
Green0000101
Total752891106812338
Most common professions of MPs by political party      
ProfessionLiberalsConservativesNDPBlocGreenTotal
Lawyer/Counsel45941160
Consultant271730047
Lecturer/Prof23992043
Businessman212001042
Executive181570141
Manager191130033
Journalist131151030
Director14770129
Activist15050121
Teacher/Educator8454021
Entrepreneur13610020
Farmer61400020
Administrator8810017
Engineer12200014
Author/Writer422019
Physician/Doctor440008
Total1849944101338
Most common professions of MPs by ethnic origin           
ProfessionAboriginalBlackEast AsianLatin AmericanMultiracial / OtherSouth AsianSoutheast AsianWest Asian / ArabWhiteMinorityTotal
Lawyer/Counsel21100901461460
Consultant0201030140747
Lecturer/Prof0200020039443
Businessman2000050035742
Executive0000120038341
Manager0000000132133
Journalist0000000030030
Director2000000027229
Activist11200501111021
Teacher/Educator0100001217421
Entrepreneur0110010116420
Farmer0000010019120
Administrator0011000015217
Engineer001003028614
Author/Writer00000000909
Physician/Doctor01000000718
Total95511251928256338
Most common field of study of MPs by political party      
FieldLiberalsConservativesNDPBlocGreenTotal
Politics4013100063
Law44951160
Business22320027
Economics18531027
STEM17510023
History11450020
Education10350018
Engineering13100014
Commerce8300011
Literature411006
Other3724153079
Ethnic origin of newly-elected MPs by political party           
PartyAboriginalBlackEast AsianLatin AmericanSouth AsianSoutheast AsianWest Asian / ArabMultiracial / OtherWhiteMinorityTotal
Liberals73212307011343156
Conservatives0000102035338
NDP1010000014216
Bloc00000000909
Green00000000000
Total83312409017148219
Ethnic origin of returning MPs by political party           
PartyAboriginalBlackEast AsianLatin AmericanSouth AsianSoutheast AsianWest Asian/ArabMultiracial / OtherWhiteMinorityTotal
Liberals0210000025328
Conservatives0010100158361
NDP1000010026228
Bloc00000000101
Green00000000101
Total122011011118119
Age group of MPs by ethnic origin       
Ethnic originUnder 3030-3940-4950-5960-6970+Total
White64069966110282
South Asian17646125
West Asian / Arab0243009
Aboriginal0135009
Black0031015
East Asian0121105
Southeast Asian0100001
Latin American0010001
Multiracial / Other0010001
Total752891106812338
Language preference of MPs by political party      
LanguageLiberalsConservativesNDPBlocGreenTotal
English93802501199
French9989035
Both82101110104
Total1849944101338
Language preference of MPs by ethnic origin           
LanguageAboriginalBlackEast AsianLatin AmericanMultiracial / OtherSouth AsianSoutheast AsianWest Asian / ArabWhiteMinorityTotal
English32401150317128199
French0100001231435
Both6211010048024104
Total95511251928256338
Immigrant status of MPs by political party   
PartyCanada-bornImmigrantTotal
Liberals14935184
Conservatives90999
NDP42244
Bloc10010
Green011
Total29147338
Immigrant status of MPs by province of riding   
ProvinceCanada-bornImmigrantTotal
Alberta29534
BC33942
Manitoba14014
NB10010
NFLD707
NS10111
NWT101
Nunavut101
Ontario9625121
PEI404
Quebec72678
Saskatchewan13114
Yukon101
Total29147338
Ethnic origin of MPs by political party (female)           
PartyAboriginalBlackEast AsianLatin AmericanMultiracial / OtherSouth AsianSoutheast AsianWest Asian / ArabWhiteMinorityTotal
Liberals12000802371350
Conservatives0010000015116
NDP1010001014317
Bloc00000000202
Green00000000101
Total22200812691786
Age group of MPs by political party (female)       
PartyUnder 3030-3940-4950-5960-6970+Total
Liberals2817147250
Conservatives03472016
NDP03635017
Bloc0110002
Green0000101
Total215282415286
Most common professions of MPs by political party (female)      
ProfessionLiberalsConservativesNDPBlocGreenTotal
Consultant6720015
Executive5430113
Lawyer/Counsel9110112
Activist8020111
Lecturer/Prof5140010
Director611019
Manager441009
Journalist511007
Administrator150006
Teacher/Educator202206
Businessman400004
Entrepreneur310004
Physician/Doctor310004
Author/Writer200013
Engineer110002
Farmer000000
Total64271725115
Most common professions of MPs by ethnic origin (female)           
ProfessionAboriginalBlackEast AsianLatin AmericanMultiracial / OtherSouth AsianSoutheast AsianWest Asian / ArabWhiteMinorityTotal
Consultant0100010013215
Executive0000010012113
Lawyer/Counsel100003008412
Activist001003016511
Lecturer/Prof010000009110
Director00000000909
Manager00000000909
Journalist00000000707
Administrator00100000516
Teacher/Educator00000011426
Businessman00000000404
Entrepreneur01100000224
Physician/Doctor01000000314
Author/Writer00000000303
Engineer00000000202
Farmer00000000000
Total22200812691786
Most common field of study of MPs by political party (female)      
FieldLiberalsConservativesNDPBlocGreenTotal
Politics11220015
Law8110111
Business612009
Education412007
STEM130004
History400004
Economics111003
Literature200002
Engineering100001
Sociology001001
Other16470027
Ethnic origin of MPs by political party (male)           
PartyAboriginalBlackEast AsianLatin AmericanMultiracial / OtherSouth AsianSoutheast AsianWest Asian / ArabWhiteMinorityTotal
Liberals63310150510133134
Conservatives0000120278583
NDP1000000026127
Bloc00000000808
Green00000000000
Total73311170721339252
Age group of MPs by political party (male)       
PartyUnder 3030-3940-4950-5960-6970+Total
Liberals1183848245134
Conservatives112172722483
NDP24687027
Bloc1303018
Green0000000
Total53761865310252
Most common professions of MPs by political party (male)      
ProfessionLiberalsConservativesNDPBlocGreenTotal
Lawyer/Counsel211010032
Businessman131140028
Lecturer/Prof36831048
Consultant7030010
Executive18852033
Manager8660020
Journalist15720024
Director81041023
Farmer7310011
Entrepreneur6432015
Teacher/Educator172001038
Engineer10510016
Administrator130004
Activist222006
Author/Writer11100012
Physician/Doctor61400020
Total1861123570340
Most common professions of MPs by ethnic origin (male)           
ProfessionAboriginalBlackEast AsianLatin AmericanMultiracial / OtherSouth AsianSoutheast AsianWest Asian / ArabWhiteMinorityTotal
Lawyer/Counsel11100601381048
Businessman2000050031738
Lecturer/Prof0100020030333
Consultant0101020127532
Executive0000110026228
Manager0000000123124
Journalist0000000023023
Director2000000018220
Farmer0000010019120
Entrepreneur0000010114216
Teacher/Educator0100000113215
Engineer001003026612
Administrator0001000010111
Activist111002005510
Author/Writer00000000606
Physician/Doctor00000000404
Total73311170721339252
Most common field of study of MPs by political party (male)      
FieldLiberalsConservativesNDPBlocGreenTotal
Law36841049
Politics291180048
Economics17421024
STEM16210019
Business16200018
History7450016
Engineering12100013
Education6230011
Commerce8300011
Literature211004
Other40862056

  
  



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