Originally Posted by hipster duck
Yeah, from a realpolitik perspective, courting the Muslim vote is a thankless political task.
Muslims aren't a voting bloc like large, historically disenfranchised minorities in the US. I don't think most Muslims would vote for one party over another and, besides, they represent 3.2% of the Canadian population and are scattered across enough ridings that you can't pick up any seats in a FPTP system.
If you stand up in the HoC and vigorously defend the niqab - if that is the hill you choose to die on - then your outcome is:
- Many Muslims - particularly from backgrounds where the niqab isn't a thing - aren't swayed to vote for you on this policy alone;
- You alienate a large chunk of Quebeckers who actually do determine seats in a FPTP;
- You might sway a small minority of urban, Anglo voters who would've voted for you anyway and, again, don't determine seats.
I think it's probably a mistake to view the Liberal and NDP support for the niqab in isolation and to think it's primarily about the Muslim vote. These parties would support the Sikh turban and kirpan or some other religious symbolism as well if it was being debated.
So it's not about the niqab or the kirpan, but about the broader concept of tolerance for diversity. This is a huge part of the bread and butter of these two parties.
It's still electoralist of course: the target audience is still fast-growing immigrant communities who tend to be fairly religious and traditional ("we may not be crazy about the Muslims, but if they leave them alone they'll leave us alone too")
, and also that constituency of Canadians who are not of immigrant origins but who subscribe to contemporary globalist principles.
It's a winning proposition. Especially for the Liberals.