Immigrant vote pays off for Conservatives
The Kansas City Star
The problem is, these are Canada’s conservatives, who transformed their party from one seen as hostile to “new Canadians” to one that now includes many immigrant voters and members of Parliament.
The story in the Toronto Globe and Mail, first published last year, provides what could be a rough roadmap for Republicans seeking to broaden their party’s appeal after wipeouts among key groups like Hispanics and Asians.
The point man for the Canadian Tories’ effort was Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who began working on the outreach effort in 2006 — five years before the 2011 election in which Conservatives won a majority by grabbing a hefty share of the immigrant vote.
The Globe: “A Conservative source said there was a deliberate strategy to deliver on the issues that mattered to these communities, but not instantly. That way they could create a constituency of ‘askers,’ motivated leaders who could be converted to supporters. Meanwhile, in Ottawa, Mr. Kenney brought the issues of new Canadians to the cabinet table, making them central to party thinking. And he had the ear of the Prime Minister, who, as one witness recalled, devoured a report Mr. Kenney produced on which Conservative MPs were actively buying into the idea of engaging with new Canadians.”
It takes a politician with a deft hand to lead an effort like this. A Jeb Bush could probably pull it off without seeming phony but the party still faces a problem. As Ramesh Ponnuru put it in a recent piece, “Republicans haven’t found a way to reassure conservative voters that the country will respect the rule of law without also making Hispanics think the party is hostile to them.”
A big part of this is tone and a willingness to listen. Note that Kenney’s effort in Canada began with a “listening tour.” In any case, the parameters of the immigration issue may change markedly by 2016. By some estimates, net migration from Mexico is zero or perhaps even below that. By 2016, other problems may be on the nation’s front burners. But even if so, Republicans must develop more effective ways of addressing minority voters.