For the second consecutive federal election, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won every riding in the Greater Toronto Area en route to victory. New Canadian Media reached out to members of various communities across the GTA to find out why the Liberals won their vote. This article is part of a four part series exploring the question: why the GTA went red? Read part IV here.
The Conservatives luck ran out on election night. It became clear the morning after that most Africans in the Greater Toronto Area contributed to their drubbing at the polls.
But why? Why did Africans in the GTA go for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals over the Conservatives and the New Democrats?
“Canada as we know it has long been buoyed by the influx of immigrants,” notes Toronto-based lawyer Peter Kalu. Kalu, whose ethnicity is Nigerian, said, “Immigration is very important to me and my family, and it is why we thrive in this country we now call home. There’s no way in the world I can put my trust in the Conservative Party, which wants to cut immigration even though it is clear that new and old immigrants contribute enormously to the success of Canada as a country.”
Somali-Canadian Hawa Jama agrees with Kalu’s sentiment. “For me, it appears the Conservatives have no eyes. They don’t often see people like me, a common person from the African community. They always speak above my head, only interested in how many people they wish to prevent from entering Canada. Not whether immigrants should be encouraged to seek the Canadian lifestyle because everyone benefits from it. It [immigration] makes the country stronger. I often wonder if the Conservatives ever ask themselves this question: ‘why are they so anti-immigration?’ If it’s the same thing that helped their own parents and forebears to move to Canada from Europe? Is Canada not essentially an immigrant nation?” Jama asked.
Bola Dibiri, a Nigerian-Canadian, moved to Canada 30 years ago from Germany. “Not even Germany, a Western developed country and member of the G7 nations, offered me what this country has given to me and my family. I am sorry if I am biased,” he said. Dibiri stressed the importance of former prime minister, the current PM’s father, Pierre Trudeau. According to Dibiri, Pierre Trudeau “made it possible for me to be here and thrive as an engineer. My children and husband and the rest of my family came to this beautiful country because of Trudeau Sr.’s policy, and he was a Liberal.”
According to Statistics Canada, 55 per cent of Toronto residents were born outside Canada. The same holds true for much of the GTA.
In Mississauga, where Kofi Yeboah now calls home, the Ghanaian native said, “Immigration is paramount to me.” That’s why he voted for the Liberals. “The Conservatives did not produce a platform of policies that would continue to grow the economy.” Meanwhile, under the Liberals, the unemployment rate is at a 20-year low.
”Their math just didn’t add up for me as they were filled with half-truths and complete lies,” Yeboah said. “We have seen what lying politicians bring to the table. Look at the USA where Trump lies every day. And in my opinion Andrew Scheer reminds me a lot of Trump.”
Not a viable option
“Scheer never told the truth completely about his American citizenship, dodged questions about his party’s involvement in paying a consultant to thwart another party’s chances in the dying minutes of the campaign, and then propagated claims about Liberal’s intentions to raise taxes, without providing evidence. I just don’t trust the Conservatives, period,” Dibiri said.
When asked why the NDP wasn’t a viable option, Dibiri replied, “Though I also like the NDP and its leader, the New Democrats have to prove they can be a truly national party in terms of reach to every community in the country. For now the party most likely to have that type of national force is the Liberal party,” he said.
“I like them too,” remarked Somali-born North York resident Hafsa Ibrahim, in reference to the NDP. But the Liberals have more power in terms of being ubiquitous. A political party with the kind of resources they possess and with the gentle immigration policies they have developed over the years is where I belong. That’s why I voted Liberal. I will definitely choose the NDP over the conservatives anytime, but they just don’t have the wings of the octopus right now. The Liberals made it possible for me to see all members of my family again from Somalia. I like them,” the first-time voter said.
Emelike Ukpabi, a middle-class Nigerian immigrant of ten years, agrees. “Politics is about finding who can win for you, and the liberals did it for me and my family.” He said he doesn’t like the Conservatives type of politics anywhere in the world. “They either want to cut essential services to needy people, people who can’t help themselves, or raise the spectre of xenophobia in their doings. I don’t trust conservatives anywhere in the world and that’s how it’s always going to be.”
This is part III of a IV-part series on why the GTA voted Liberal. The final instalment of our series asks, what about the Liberals campaign resonated with the Chinese-Canadian community? Read part IV here.
Peter Uduehi is a journalist and currently publisher and editor of African World News in Toronto. Versed in African and American politics, he has spent most of his adult years in the USA where he studied journalism and later worked as reporter and news editor for several US media outlets before emigrating to Canada 10 years ago.