Edmonton Election: To what extent do the candidates reflect the city’s diversity?
Candidates in the upcoming Edmonton election are largely white, but women and visible minority candidates are found on the ballots more frequently compared to the recent federal election, according to CTV News analysis.
CTV News has examined the websites and online presence of candidates with the aim of documenting the extent to which women as well as candidates of various racial backgrounds are represented among the candidates.
“What we are seeing is that elected officials do not reflect the makeup of the population,” said University political scientist MacEwan Chaldeans Mensah.
“The good news is that we’ve seen more people come forward with their names in the non-white segment of the applicant pool. We’re starting to see some progress there.
White candidates represent a majority of around 65% of all candidates running for mayor, council and school trustees later this month.
South Asian and black applicants were the other most frequently found racial origins, with around 17 percent and 10 percent of all applicants, respectively.
These numbers are significantly better than those found in last month’s federal election, where 82 percent of candidates in Edmonton-area ridings were white.
“We’re starting to see progress there,” Mensah said.
The census shows that about 37 percent of Edmontonians identify as a visible minority.
Three candidates were omitted from the analysis: two have since withdrawn from their candidacy and information on one candidate could not be determined.
Women are also better represented in the next municipal elections, although mainly focused on the races later in the ballot.
The analysis shows that an almost equal proportion of men (67) and women (63) compete in all races, but also that the majority of female candidates compete in school marshal races.
About a third of the candidates in the Edmonton area were women in the recent federal election.
That ratio is reflected in this month’s run in the municipal and municipal elections, where men make up about two-thirds of the candidates, 55 out of 82.
A majority, or 29 out of 48, of candidates for school trustee positions are white women.
Women make up almost exactly 50 percent of the city’s population, according to the latest national census.
LACK OF HISTORICAL DIVERSITY
Nine of the eleven members of the outgoing city council are men and two of the eleven are from a visible minority.
Throughout its history, Edmonton has elected a woman mayor and approximately 30 councilors. The city has never elected a visible minority candidate for mayor or a visible minority woman for councilor.
Mensah says challenging these historical trends will take time and effort.
“No one will vote for you because of your income from a diverse background,” he said.
“They just want to see if you’ve paid your dues.”
Mensah says seeing greater diversity at the city level is a bit unexpected given the role political parties play in high-level elections to recruit and retain candidates from diverse backgrounds.
Without parties, he says, local candidates must create their own brands.
“It’s a system that gives importance to your name recognition based on what you’ve done in the community,” he said.
“And if you’ve done a good job on the pitch, we’ll get to know you and you’ll have a chance to be successful. “
While Mesah says minority participation in this year’s competition is a welcome sign, it’s not enough to run.
“It’s one thing to nominate your name, it’s another to win,” he said.
“We also have to see that translate into a victory. “