For as long as I can remember, the choice between political
candidates and parties has never been this confusing. Even though
candidates will likely try to be everything to everyone in the coming
weeks, this election poses a real dilemma for Canadian Muslims and what
seems to be their newfound political consciousness.
Welcome to Election 2004 and, for some, a tyranny of choice.
Comprising over 44 different ethnicities and hailing from diverse social,
cultural and political communities, Canadian Muslims are a complex and
class-divided demographic. Landed and professional communities have
historically gravitated toward the Liberals, seen as immigrant-friendly,
committed to multiculturalism, and the poster party for stability and
middle-of-the-road politics. But in this election, a number of issues are
stirring in the political pot.
Post-9/11 has been a catalyst for many Canadian Muslims. There is an
emerging realization among them that complacency, apathy and a mindset of
victimization are their greatest enemies. If they do not speak up, no one
will speak up on their behalf. And, like many Canadians, they are concerned
about issues such as health care, education, child care, employment,
immigration and taxes. It is vitally important that Canadian Muslims not
become fixated, as in the past, on international issues only.
Canadian Muslims have been directly affected by security legislation and,
as such, can contribute toward the evolution of social justice by demanding
safeguards against abuses carried out in the name of security. Many ethnic
groups have gone through similar trials in Canada and, by fighting
discrimination, each has emerged with its role further entrenched in the
Riad Saloojee is the executive director of the Canadian Council on
Council on American-Islamic Relations CANADA
P.O. Box 13219, Ottawa, ONT, K2K 1X4