June 2, 2011

Diversity in the 41st Parliament*

By Kyle Crawford

Note: Updated Friday, June 3, 2011.

Canada’s parliamentarians bring a multitude of experiences to their job. In The Accidental Citizen? we found that the MPs we interviewed came from a much more diverse set of backgrounds than most people think. We talked to MPs who were electricians, nurses, and priests--and yes even a few lawyers (but probably fewer than you’d think). But like Canada’s 40th Parliament, the 41st is more male and whiter than Canada’s population.

In the newest Parliament, 9.4% of MPs are visible minorities, compared with 16.2% of Canada’s population. That’s a slight improvement from the 40th Parliament, where visible minorities made up 6.8% of the House. The increase represents an additional 8 MPs.

19 of the new 111 MPs are visible minorities, including new members Parm Gill, Ted Hsu and Hoang Mai. 10 incumbent visible minorities earned re-election.

The NDP caucus has the highest proportion of visible minorities of the three largest parties, with 13.6% of its caucus being visible minorities. The CPC is next with 7.2%, and the Liberals follow with 5.9%.  Just by the numbers the Bloc is the most diverse with a whopping 25% visible minority MPs, but of course the party only claims 4 total seats. In the previous parliament 3 of the Bloc’s 48 MPs were visible minorities.

Compared with the previous Parliament the NDP made the largest jump adding 13 visible minority MPs to their caucus. The Liberals went from the most diverse to the least of the three largest parties, falling from 11.7% to 5.9% diversity. They now only have 2 visible minority MPs. The Conservatives stayed at about the same level of diversity going from 5.5% to 7.2% visible minority MPs.

Visible Minority MPs by Party in Canada's 40th and 41st Parliament

Visible Minority MPs in the 41st Parliament

We'll be bringing you more posts on the composition of the 41st Parliament, including a detailed look at immigrant MPs. We've crunched the numbers but we want to hear from you. What do the number of minority MPs say about the health of our Parliament? What do the changes in the numbers of visible minority MPs indicate?

*Of course there are a number of ways of thinking of diversity. In future posts we will be bringing you information on immigrants and Aboriginal people in the 41st Parliament. As always, if you have any comments or concerns, let us know through a comment below or by contacting us.





Comments (6) Permanent link to this post




June 3, 2011 20:20 PM

Interesting, a slightly different accounting on this blog:

"So, how does the 2011 election stack up? I’ve gone riding-by-riding to pull the data and it suggests that Canadians elected 29 visible minority MPs and 7 Aboriginal MPs to represent us in the 41st Parliament of Canada. The number of Aboriginal MPs was confirmed by AFN Chief Shawn Atleo, who issued a statement about the election results."

Curious who the "outlier" is! Smile


June 3, 2011 23:36 PM

Great post! Would also be interested in how you determined MPs' visible minority status, as past research has struggled with this a bit. Some argue that one's "race" should only be established through self-identification and therefore will rely only on candidate surveys, while others use photographs or surname analysis. There are also questions about which groups should be considered visible minorities. The Census, for example, includes those of Latin American origin, but academic research on the subject (e.g. Black 2006; Black 2008) has sometimes excluded those groups. Would be great if you could say a few words about your method, especially since your counts differ slightly from those publicized by others.


June 4, 2011 00:49 AM

Thanks Marco! We were indeed off by one. The post now reflects those changes.


June 4, 2011 01:08 AM

Thanks for the comment Erin, that's something we struggled with too. We used the Statistics Canada definition of "Visible Minority" (www.statcan.gc.ca/.../minority-minorite1-eng.htm), which some might be interested to know does not include Aboriginal Canadians. We relied on a combination of surname analysis, photographs and biographical research to decide whether to count an MP as a visible minority. To a certain extent deciding which MPs are visible minorities is subjective and so the differences between our counts and others is a result of that. Hope this answers your question, keep the feedback coming!


March 17, 2013 22:49 PM

It would have been awesome if this classification was extended by gender. That is of all these MPs how many are women are visible minority? Do you have such information?

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June 12, 2013 10:22 AM

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