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.