New Canadian voters crucial in Agincourt ward races

In Agincourt, the Oct. 25 municipal election will likely be decided by new Canadians.

That is, if the candidates can lure them out to the polls.

The challenge for council contenders is reaching out for the support of new voters: turnout rates in Wards 39 and 40 are slightly below the city average of 40 per cent.

“With the newest Canadians, many of them are struggling to [establish themselves],” said Ward 40 councillor Norm Kelly. “They have other demanding things in their lives, and voting and participating in the system is, for many of them, peripheral.”

The two wards have among of the highest numbers of new Canadians in all of Scarborough, city stats show. Two thirds of residents are immigrants, primarily from East Asia.

Gaining the support of these voters is crucial for council candidates and incumbents.

“The first thing I do is make sure that I drop literature at the door,” Kelly said. “And I write a column for a couple of Chinese newspapers, where I talk politics and government.”

In Ward 39, more than half the population is composed of immigrants from mainland China and Hong Kong.

“I have been putting out a newsletter in Chinese to bring people up to date in respect to issues,” said Ward 39 councillor Mike Del Grande. “And when anybody moves into the neighbourhood I try to introduce myself.”

Other candidates find it tough to take votes away from the established opponent.

“In order to beat my incumbent, I need to work extra hard for the minority vote,” said Ward 40 candidate Ken Sy, an entrepreneur who emigrated from Hong Kong. “A lot of minorities don’t understand their rights, they don’t understand the importance of casting their vote, so I have to draw their attention.”

But it’s not just about getting them to vote for a specific candidate, said Ward 39 candidate Caldwell Williams. It’s about getting them involved in the democratic process.

“It’s the whole education around civic engagement,” he said. “It’s just good have as many people as aware of the options and the opportunities they have in politics.”

One comment:

  1. I live in ward 39 and to this date never heard or met “Mike Delgrande”. So much needs to change in this ward and there hasn’t been much to show for it. Through out the year I looked forward to meetings in our neighbourhood in hopes and requests of such changes that I myself has offered to get involved in and no where near these areas have I seen the incumbent. We need change. We need hope. We need a fresh face. I recently attended a debate with the three candidates at Bridlewood mall. All that I received from Mr. DelGrande’s responses was the bashing of the other two candidates or statement about him beeing in office for this long. WELL MAYBE THATS THE PROBLEM! Mr. Williams on the other hand I felt had a certain humility that revived the same hope I had feeling was lost. Mr. Xu would be my next choice though I felt a certain disconnection from him, a semse that not all from Ward 39 would be heard but instead the majority. I do not wish to have another neglectful term! I have family and friends from Glendower and other areas of this ward that agree something has been lost a long the way, 10 paces ago. Come ON WARD 39 LET’S DO IT RIGHT THIS TIME.

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