Toronto key to majority for Canada's Conservatives

Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:48am EDT
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By Julie Gordon and Claire Sibonney

BRAMPTON, Ontario (Reuters) - The Toronto region is where the 2011 federal election will probably be decided as the Conservatives hunt for the extra seats they need to turn their minority government into a safe majority one.

In the city of Toronto, which has a reputation for being a fortress for the opposition Liberals, the Conservatives have the aging populations of affluent electoral districts in their sights, with a special nod to Jewish voters who like the government's pro-Israel stance.

And in the suburbs, where visible minorities now make up a rising share of voters, they are targeting the ethnic vote.

"Their objective is to position themselves as the natural governing party for the 21st century in Canada," said Christian Leuprecht, an associate professor of politics at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

"That clearly means making inroads with those population groups that are growing rapidly."

The Conservatives, in power since 2006, are using their record on the economy and family-centric "traditional values" to appeal to voters in the suburbs of Canada's largest city, home to 10 of the tightest races for the May 2 election.

Three of the hottest ridings, or electoral districts, are in Brampton, just northwest of Toronto, where half the residents are immigrants, and one in three is from South Asia. Buoyed by an immigrant vote that has traditionally backed them, the Liberals won here in the last election, but only just.

Now, the immigrant vote isn't necessarily Liberal.   Continued...

<p>Conservative leader and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper listens to a question during a campaign event in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario April 25, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>