Generational Shift Helps Liberals Sweep GTA Suburbs - New Canadian Media

Generational Shift Helps Liberals Sweep GTA Suburbs

Canada has spoken and its ethnic minority electorate has made it clear that they are on the same wavelength as the rest of the country.…

Canada has spoken and its ethnic minority electorate has made it clear that they are on the same wavelength as the rest of the country. The “905” belt around Toronto city, that famously shored up the Conservative party in the 2011 federal elections, has now helped in ensuring its defeat.

Large numbers of minority voters in this belt voted just like their “416” city neighbours as if to prove that the telephone code monikers that differentiate them are superficial. And that 905 can no longer be used as shorthand to describe the purported small “c” values that made them support the Conservatives.

While statisticians and academics will trawl through voting data to come up with plausible reasons for the vote shift, anecdotal evidence points to the generational shift taking place in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) suburbs.

As newer immigrant communities mature, the second and third generations are thinking and voting like their downtown Toronto counterparts.

As newer immigrant communities mature, the second and third generations are thinking and voting like their downtown Toronto counterparts. Many of them are professionals who work and even live in the city, visiting their suburban parents on weekends. This has led to the gradual erosion of the cultural boundaries that existed between Toronto and its surroundings.

“Plenty of the young condo dwellers in my riding of Spadina-Fort York are children of parents who live in Brampton and Mississauga. So here I am, trying to influence these parents for their children’s votes,” Liberal candidate Adam Vaughan told New Canadian Media at a campaign stop in Brampton.

Vaughan is among his party’s winners who have painted the whole of the GTA into a solid patch of red spreading north from the shores of Lake Ontario.

Intergenerational conversations

What has been happening is that the older and younger generations interact over the weekends and seem to influence each other. Not very unlike this skit from the Anybody But the Conservatives camp that captures the essence of generational differences amongst South Asian families.

This cross-pollination of ideas is likely to be one of the several factors that helped the Liberals regain ground from the Conservatives in the suburbs and edge out the NDP in the city.

To their credit, the Liberals had started cultivating the younger generation of minority professionals, way before the elections were called.

To their credit, the Liberals had started cultivating the younger generation of minority professionals, way before the elections were called. It was evident at events like the South Asian Bar Association (SABA) of Toronto’s awards gala where Justin Trudeau was the keynote speaker.

At this event a year ago, the Prime Minister-designate was visibly proud to present his young team of candidates, many of them lawyers. They now are part of the 150-odd neophyte MPs who will be entering parliament.

Meet the Brampton, Mississauga cohort

A quick look at this 905 cohort will give an idea about the candidates the Liberals were able to attract compared to the mostly self-made business people who flocked to the Conservatives.

Sven Spengemann (Mississauga-Lakeshore) completed his doctorate in political and constitutional theory at Harvard Law in June 2006.

Gagan Sikand (Mississauga-Streetsville) is a lawyer who has worked for the Attorney General of Ontario, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.

Overall, the median age of these 905 Liberal MPs reflect that of their party leader. And they come with matching attitudes.

Iqra Khalid (Mississauga-Erin Mills) studied law and is now an articling student with the legal department at The City of Mississauga. She expects to be called to the bar soon.

Ruby Sahota (Brampton North) is an attorney who has practised for five years in the areas of criminal law, litigation, and dispute resolution in both the public and private sectors.

Raj Grewal (Brampton East) practised law at a prominent Bay Street firm and was also a financial analyst for a fortune 500 company.

The oldest MP among this crop of legal professionals is Ramesh Sangha (Brampton Centre), who jumped into the fray after a career in law.

And if they are not lawyers, the other MPs are health-care professionals. Kamal Khera (Brampton West) is a registered oncology nurse and Sonia Sidhu (Brampton South) is a cardiology technologist.

The few among the cohort with previous legislative experience are Navdeep Bains (Mississauga-Malton) who has been MP for Mississauga—Brampton South from 2004 to 2011; Omar Alghabra (Mississauga Centre) who was an MP from 2006 to 2008 and Peter Fonseca (Mississauga East-Cooksville) who is a former Ontario provincial cabinet minister.

Overall, the median age of these 905 Liberal MPs reflect that of their party leader. And they come with matching attitudes.

Khalid, possibly the youngest among them, had set her mind on sitting in Parliament while in university. “Why wait until I’m older, for another 20 or 30 years. The time is now.”

Ranjit is a Toronto-based writer with interest in Canadian civic affairs, immigration, the environment and motoring. Maytree and Al Jazzera English alumnus.

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