Ukraine cri­sis proves a key is­sue in Cana­dian elec­tion


Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper’s hard line against Moscow’s ag­gres­sion in Ukraine has earned him sup­port from Canada’s Ukrainian di­as­pora, a group that could be piv­otal as he seeks a fourth man­date on Oct. 19.

Harper’s Con­ser­va­tives, or Tories, are in a tight three-way race with the cen­trist Lib­er­als and the left­ist New Democrats for 338 seats in the next par­lia­ment. Sev­eral key races could be de­cided by Ukrainian-Cana­dian vot­ers.

Canada’s Ukraini­ans are the de­scen­dants of eco­nomic mi­grants who first came to the coun­try 125 years ago, and in sub­se­quent waves af­ter World War II and over the last decade.

To­day they num­ber 1.3 mil­lion, or al­most 4 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion. It is one of the largest groups of di­as­pora Ukraini­ans any­where, and they rep­re­sent a con­sid­er­able vot­ing bloc.

“The Tories es­tab­lished that the Ukrainian vote could tilt the re­sults in a dozen tight elec­toral races in Canada,” said Do­minique Arel, the chair of Ukrainian Stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa.

In 2011, the Tories tar­geted vot­ers in 35 elec­toral dis­tricts across Canada with more than 10,000 vot­ers of Ukrainian de­scent — and they won “most” of the races, Arel said.

These in­cluded elec­toral dis­tricts in Win­nipeg, Man­i­toba, where the de­scen­dants of Ukrainian mi­grants rep­re­sent 13 to 21 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

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