An ethnic coalition: the Liberal Party of Canada and the engagement of ethnocultural communities, 1959-1974




Falconer, Thirstan

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During the 1960s and 1970s the Liberal Party of Canada sought to engage ethnocultural communities in an effort to win federal elections. The author argues that the Liberal Party’s relationship with ethnocultural communities in Metro Toronto during the 1960s was characterized by indifference. Though it adopted a programme that encouraged the courting of ethnocultural communities, the Pearson-led Liberal Party showed limited interest in recognizing ethnocultural communities as a part of the party’s electoral coalition. The efforts of Andrew Thompson, the Liberal Party’s Ethnic Liaison Officer during the Pearson years, were separated from the rest of party’s organization and campaign structure. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau ended Pearson’s lost decade and strengthened party bonds with ethnocultural communities. Trudeau welcomed ethnocultural communities to the Liberal Party, declared Canada as multicultural, and distributed patronage to leaders of non-English and non-French communities. This dissertation differentiates between groups and categories, and critically analyzes how people and organizations do things with categories. This dissertation argues that Thompson and the Liberal Party grouped ethnocultural communities as “ethnic groups” and “ethnic voters” in order to simplify diverse and unbounded peoples they did not understand.



Canada, Political History, Liberal Party of Canada, Ethnicity, Multiculturalism, History, Andrew Thompson