November 24, 2012

IN CANADA, HOW COURTING THE IMMIGRANT VOTE PAID OFF FOR THE TORIES:

Fifteen cups of tea. That’s how the election was won.

In one day during the 2011 election campaign, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney attended 15 different chai parties hosted by Indo-Canadian voters in Brampton West, Ont. That’s just a snapshot of his epic cross-Canada campaigning, but it’s indicative of the stamina and persistence of the Conservative point man for ethnic communities.

He and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have transformed their party from one that was perceived as hostile to new Canadians to one that is now home to a great many immigrant voters and Members of Parliament.

It helps. When Phil Bredesen ran for governor in Tennessee the first time, he was thought of as an out-of-touch northeasterner. He then spent a lot of time going to chili suppers and VFW affairs all over the state, and by the next time people thought he was okay. Of course the Democrats and media run a double-bind operation here: They attack the GOP for being racist and insular, but then also attack it if it reaches out to new groups. That’s a calculated strategy to keep the GOP isolated, but you just have to overcome it.

This kind of outreach, done right, would do more good than amnesty bills. Harder to do at the national-campaign level, though.