STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan
I am referring to the Federal Elections in Canada on 21st of October. Here is a quick background for those not familiar with the Canadian political landscape. The front runners are incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party and Mr. Andrew Scheer leading the Conservatives.
Mr. Jagmeet Singh of NDP, Ms. Elizabeth May of Green Party, Mr. Francois Blanchet of Bloc Quebecois, and Mr. Maxime Bernier of the People’s Party are all in the race too. They have their strongholds, but unlikely to emerge as contenders for the top slot. There are some other fringe parties too.
I have been following the recent furor created by the “blackface” pictures and videos of Mr. Justin Trudeau appearing in the media. A leading journalist in Toronto termed it “game over for Liberals”. Not so fast my friends. The images are nearly 20 years old of a youthful Justin acting out his youthful shenanigans as a student. I have raised four kids who went through Universities and I am quite aware of meaningless pranks committed in youthful exuberance. It could be as innocent as Justin seeking attention, especially from the fairer sex.
People are known to evolve. I have been involved and seen Mr. Justin Trudeau emerge as Liberal Party leader and then come in from behind to win the 2015 Elections. In his first tenure as Prime Minister he adhered to “Liberal” values enunciated in their election platform. I urge all Canadians of my skin color not get caught in this web engineered by well funded and organized Opponents. Let it not muddy the waters that take us away from the hard realities as they exist. The outlook and approach of Sheer’s (Harper’s) Conservatives is similar to Trump’s Republicans for the Canadian society.
But memories are short. Some may have forgotten the two terms of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his divisive politics, and his legal encirclement of non white Canadians. I reproduce below a letter written by me prior to the last Elections.
October 12th 2015
OPEN LETTER TO MR. STEPHEN HARPER
Equality amongst Canadians
Dear Mr. Harper,
I am a Canadian Muslim living in Mississauga for nearly 2 decades. My 4 kids grew up here and are young adults pursuing their respective careers. We own a house, pay taxes, participate in community activities and feel totally integrated.
Your tenure as Prime Minister and your election platform has me extremely concerned. Your positions, as being reported in print and electronic media on various issues, are conveying a clear anti-Muslim and anti-minority bias.
Herein are some examples:
- Bill C24 passed by Conservatives clearly creates 2 classes of Canadian.
- You have created an atmosphere of fear and anxiety among the new and old stock immigrants.
- You have made “Niqaab” a centre stage election issue for the Conservatives.
- Recent reports on Syrian refugees demonstrate that Muslims are being discriminated against.
RCMP has created a tip line against so called “barbaric practices in Canada” focussing on Muslims. There is no similar “tip line” for other serious problems, such as disappearing Aboriginal women, violence against women, or lack of clean drinking water for Aboriginal People (usually considered a 3rd world phenomenon).
The Canada that my family and I moved to in mid-nineties was kind, compassionate, welcoming and globally respected for impartiality and fairness.
Now we are perceived as being suspicious, aggressive, and highly partisan. We are viewed as combatants rather than peace makers.
This anti-Muslim posturing may sway some votes in your favour, but Mr. Harper, for a very short term gain you are causing long term damage to our society’s fabric.
You are creating a schism in our society that could damage the Canadian nation and impact millions of citizens
You are appealing to baser sentiments: old versus new, Christians versus Muslims, white against brown. These positions stoke a scary spectre. We have seen religion being used as a wedge in Pakistan and its consequences.
Divisions by ethnicity or religion are corrosive. It ruins the fabric of the society. Achieving popularity through prejudice is a slippery slope.
Fear, followed by coercion is a favoured tool of dictators, and it is not appropriate for sophisticated democracies like Canada.
You have the ability to couch the harshest message in the softest language. Thus far it was ignored by Canadians or set aside, but under scrutiny of a campaign it is clearly exposed.
We moved to Canada get away from “savage practices”that you are now attributing to us.
Muslims in Canada need to be encouraged to act as bulwark against such transgressions, rather than being singled out and excluded!
What you are trying to accomplish is, I believe, a clear violation of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I hope you can change your message, and make us all feel welcome again.
I urge everyone to ponder the contents of this letter and recollect where we stood four years ago. We don’t want to go back there. Let us defend the progress we made.
Living in Mississauga for nearly a quarter of century, I have seen the political landscape evolve. It is imperative for us and our future generations to re-elect Justin Trudeau and the Liberals. Much more needs to be done and we have to stay involved like 2015.
The voter turnout of 1 million Muslims in 2015 was upwards of 80% because “there was so much at stake”! Get-out-vote groups need to get energized again.I hope everyone realizes this is a tight race closely contested. We have to give it everything.
The issues have not changed; we need to defend our equality. Those who question it and challenge it are repackaging the same philosophy expounded by Stephen Harper. Let us step up to the Challenge fellow Canadians!