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Aboriginal Electoral Participation in Canada

6. The Determinants of Political Resources and Civic Duty Among Aboriginals

Since the two principal drivers of Aboriginal voter registration and turnout in Canada are political resources and civic duty, it makes sense to examine the socio-demographic characteristics of individuals who do and do not possess political resources and/or a belief that voting is a duty. Table 3 presents the results of ordinary least squares (OLS) regressions for two pooled models, one for each of these indicators.

What kind of Aboriginal respondents hold greater political resources? The first column of Table 3 indicates that male, older, more educated and wealthier individuals tend to exhibit more political interest, attention and knowledge. This is exactly the pattern observed among the non-Aboriginal population in the second column (see also Fournier 2002, Gidengil et al. 2004b). Living on a reserve is also associated with slightly lower levels of political resources (with a gap of about 2 percentage points). As well, Aboriginal residents in Quebec are less likely to possess political interest, attention and knowledge.

The third column of this table reveals that a sense of civic duty is less pronounced among four key Aboriginal groups. The young, those with less education, those with lower incomes, and residents of reserves all trail behind on this feeling of civic obligation. Non-Aboriginal electors who share these characteristics, apart from residence on a reserve, also have a weaker sense of civic duty (see the last column).

In terms of the resources and values that critically foster electoral participation, those with a weaker economic and social footing, particularly young people, again seem to be at a disadvantage.

Table 3 Pooled Regression Models, Political Resources and Civic Duty
Political resources (20042011) Civic duty to vote (20042008)
Aboriginals Non-Aboriginals Aboriginals Non-Aboriginals
Living on reserve -.02*
(.01)
-.05**
(.02)
Women-.08**
(.01)
-.08**
(.01)
.00
(.01)
.03**
(.01)
Age .21**
(.02)
.18**
(.01)
.12**
(.03)
.13**
(.01)
Education .17**
(.02)
.16**
(.01)
.06**
(.02)
.06**
(.01)
Income .12**
(.02)
.06**
(.01)
.05*
(.03)
.04**
(.01)
Rural residence -.01
(.01)
-.01**
(.01)
-.01
(.02)
.01
(.01)
Region: British Columbia .03
(.02)
.01
(.01)
.03
(.02)
-.02**
(.01)
Region: Ontario .00
(.02)
.02**
(.01)
-.01
(.02)
.00
(.01)
Region: Quebec -.08**
(.02)
-.05**
(.01)
-.01
(.02)
.01
(.01)
Region: Atlantic -.03
(.03)
-.01
(.01)
-.05
(.03)
-.02**
(.01)
Region: North .03
(.02)
.02
(.02)
.04
(.03)
-.01
(.02)
Number of cases 1931 8623 1486 6070
R-squared .16 .15 .04 .05

Cells contain OLS regression coefficients with standard errors in parentheses. All variables range from 0 to 1. **significant at .05; *significant at .10