As Monday was the polls-day for the Municipal elections in Ontario, I had to drive to cast my precious vote. And, upon reaching the polling station, I noticed unusual bumper to bumper traffic. After parking at a distance, I had to stand in the long lineup waiting for my turn for at least 40 minutes outside a local school designated for the purpose.
The voters’ turnout was impressively great during those particular after-work hours. The number of Muslim voters was slightly up compared to previous elections, yet it wasn’t enough to show an impressive turnout.
Fortunately, Councillor Max Khan in Oakville ON and Councillor Zeshan in Milton ON were re-elected.
There are a lot of factors adversely affecting the Muslim community in Canada: When it comes to the Canadian political system, the Muslims tend to lag behind, thus, they end up being under-represented or un-represented at all levels of government including Municipal, Provincial and the Federal.
In reality, our concerns as members of the Muslim community remain voiceless at the proper forum - most of the time for lack of representation. This attitude adds salt to the misery of Muslims in general who already have hard time coping with the ongoing Islamophobia in the country.
Furthermore, the main stream media hardly misses out any chance to hurt the Muslims’ sentiments; it never hesitates creating anti Muslim hype. This has been going on in the past and still continues. But, there is hardly anyone available to sell our side of the story which is none but innocence.
When we are blamed for the criminal wrongs committed by the unknown in proxy or otherwise, we are in trouble in the eyes of general public.
Unfairly, the non-Muslims build a negative opinion against Islam, as there is no one at the proper forum to advocate for our helplessness.
Admittedly, a large majority of Canadian Muslims seem to be politically immature while some are fearful due to their historical background, also, many Muslims suffer from laziness, hence involvement is conveniently avoided in the latter case. Consequently, the whole community remains voiceless in legislatures and the city councils.
Nevertheless, among the Muslim community, there is a lot of ongoing bickering that the authorities are not doing this or that - which does not make sense at all after what they have omitted carelessly or intentionally.
Naturally, they have to pay the price of their willful negligence. If they don’t care about the electoral system, they cannot do home work essential for evaluating credentials of the potential candidates. So they have to keep suffering. Hence, the after-shocks are irrelevant.
Furthermore, ignoring to elect the right candidate clearly means taking chances, whereas, a wrong person may end up in the electoral office. This surely is madness because you can’t have voice as said above.
Clearly, it’s only through active participation which ensures that you will be heard. Certainly, through participating you shape your world around you.
So, please be warned! If the wrong guys manage to get elected because of low turn-out, the office is likely to be occupied by the abusers. That is why, getting involved is crucially important as it means taking part as a candidate (if qualified) and exercising right of vote if so qualified.
Rightly said, “There is always light at the end of the tunnel:”
Thank God! There is some change for the better which has been noticed with regard to Muslim turn out in other locations in the recent days as mentioned above.
Furthermore, it’s encouraging to note that the Muslim youths are gradually turning towards political awakening, yet the slow pace won’t help much as there is a lot of catching up to do in order to enter the mainstream political arena.
Obviously, change of attitude is not easy, so it remains the toughest challenge for the Muslim community.
Technically speaking, it’s not only about claiming our rights as Canadian citizens but also about sharing in the responsibilities and obligations as being part of the Canadian democracy. In other words, one must share the great experiences and learn new skills that will come in handy for the ethnic and multicultural society; this includes school, work and life, of course.
The municipal election is the democratic process of selecting the City’s political representatives indeed.
As the Municipal Elections in BC are fast approaching, let’s do our home work through thoroughly evaluating the track record of all the available candidates to help the best candidates to reach the public office.
We, as Muslims do feel that the social values and domestic policies of the current political parties fail to accurately represent and reflect our values and valid concerns. However, despite all odds, the Muslims have to struggle smartly to have their voice heard and that is through getting involved in the political system.
Most probably, the Muslims can benefit from the lower turn out of the (non Muslims) to elect the right Mayor, Trustees and the councillors.
Currently, the BC Muslims have the golden opportunity to make a meaningful difference on the outcome of the upcoming elections. But, the only way to impact on all the municipalities with regard to policies and the political scenery is only through voting for the right candidate on the basis of merit alone.
Let me stress upon the importance of an increased Muslim participation in the electoral process, as that only will help Muslims.
The qualities to be seen in the potential candidate are integrity, efficiency, dedication, motivation and the past performance. Beyond doubt, the candidates’ presentations, mayoral debates including questions and answers help the electors (audience) make the brilliant choice in the polls.
Finally, it is about time to review our reasons of inaction and remove the hurdles in order to move on along with the main stream before it’s too late.
Importantly, it’s our duty to ensure that Muslims play an active role in all upcoming elections