Sunday, October 18, 2015

Who should Arabs and Muslims vote for?

The NDP is my clear answer.  But why?

On September 17th a group of prominent Arab and Muslim organizations from across Canada got together and sent a letter* to the leaders of the five main federal parties: Conservatives, NDP, Liberals, Bloc Quebecois and Green.

In this latter we asked about issues of concern to us, and I believe to all Canadians, among which were, Bills C-51 and C-24, the "Fair Elections Act", proportional representation, Islamophobia and racism, foreign relations with dictatorships & human rights abusers and pursuing foreign nationals accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Canadian courts.

We requested a response within five days to be able to formulate our position before the cultural gatherings of Eid where we can reach the community with relative ease.  We received answers from the Bloc, Green and NDP within the time suggested.  The Liberal party confirmed receiving our letter and assured us that they will respond but couldn't give us a date, and the Conservative party did not even acknowledge receiving our letter.  More than two weeks later, long after the responses received and our analysis of them were made public, we received the Liberal response.

We convened again to look into all responses and consider our position in light of what they said, the positions each party has taken over the years and the public announcements they made over the course of this long election campaign.

The Conservative Party had alienated us long before ignoring our letter.  Their use of divisive propaganda against ethnic communities and minorities in general and Muslims in particular left no chance for us to view them positively.  More so, over the past 10 years we seldom managed to even meet any high profile conservative to voice our concerns about issues domestic or foreign.

The Bloc Quebecois' response included positive aspects yet their xenophobic and Islamophobic policies left little room for us to assume any good will.

The Green Party's response and the party's positions over the years earned them a lot of respect with the Muslim and Arab communities.  We hope that the party increases its number of seats in the coming parliament and continue to exert a positive influence on the Canadian political scene as it has been doing till now.

The Liberal party response was comforting, politically correct but lacked specifics in many areas (e.g. electoral reform).  Despite being drafted much later than the others it still ignored issues such as war crimes and how they will deal with undemocratic governments.  Last, although talking about racism and hate speech they did not mention the word Islamophobia once, as if it does not exist as the most flagrant form of racism in our society today.  A de-facto denial we were very uncomfortable with.

The NDP's response, was clear, direct and straight forward.  It addressed most of the issues we raised with clear commitments of action.

Our communities have traditionally been Liberal supporters, as were most ethnic and religious minorities.  Unfortunately the Liberal party seems to have taken that for granted so it commits to nothing and delivers very little when it comes to our concerns.

I think that the NDP is the only party that can reverse the damage made to Canada over the last 10 years by the Harper governments, within a reasonable period of time.  The NDP does not have the baggage the Liberals have and is more accountable to its electoral base than to other influence groups and lobbies.

Although the NDP will not do all what I would like them to (which party would, anyway) I believe, beyond doubt, that it would be best for Canada - not only certain communities or minorities.  This is why I believe Canada's Arab
s and Muslims should strongly support the NDP on October 19th.

Ehab Lotayef is an IT engineer at McGill University in Montreal and the chairperson of the "Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy".

*Our letter and the responses to it from party leaders can be found here:


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