Why Muslims Need To VoteWritten by Yosra Abdelaziz
Last federal election, 58.5% of all Canadian eligible voters went to the polls to vote. Of that 58.5% who voted, 39.6% voted for a Conservative candidate.
This means that 23.97% of all eligible voters picked the current government.
23.97% of the adult population of Canadian citizens decided how our country should be run.
That isn't even close to a majority rule. Less than a quarter of our population decided our fate.
You see, there's a fundamental flaw with democracy: it's not majority rule – it's the majority who vote who rule.
Meaning, you can't sit at home wishing for this candidate rather than that one, and have your desires taken into consideration. The only way to voice your opinion is to vote.
Canadian Muslims have significantly lower voter turnouts than those of the average population. Last election, 21 significant ridings in Canada were won by very small margins – these 21 ridings also house a significant Muslim population who did not vote. Would today's Canada look different had we all voted last election?
You may have noticed how Islamophobic the political atmosphere has become these past few years. It seems that our religion is mentioned often in the media, and almost always in a negative light. Whether it's proposed burqa bans, or new, very targeted anti-terrorism legislation, it's hard to be a Canadian Muslim without feeling like your faith and by extension, your very self, is under attack.
It's easy to feel hopeless. It's easy to feel like your vote won't matter, and that there's nothing you can do. But that's not true.
Elections are very important. The results, the demographics, the nitty gritty of all the whys and why nots are analyzed over and over again. Politicians want your vote because they need your vote.
Election season is like Eid: everyone is asking for a 'eidiyah (money given to children at Eid) – a little somethin' somethin' to sweeten the deal. Mayors will ask what the federal candidates will do for their cities, the industrial sector will ask how the government will help them, and so on. This is how election platforms are carefully shaped; by analyzing what the candidate needs to do to get the most votes, and pandering to those voters.
When you don't vote, you don't matter. The politicians don't have to care about your opinion because you benefit them in no way.
It doesn't matter who you vote for, or which party you vote for. So long as a good chunk of Canadian Muslim voters turn to the polls, politicians will understand that our community matters because our community can sway the results of an entire election, and they will start to think about the issues that matter to us. Yes, even the Conservative party.
Are you registered to vote?
Find out if you are registered to vote or register to vote online here
If you wish to register in person or by mail you can find out how to do that here
Do you know what your riding is?
Find out what your riding is here
Not sure who is running in your riding?
Muslim Link has a list of all candidates from major parties running in Ottawa here
Wondering about the policies of the Federal Parties?
Macleans has created a Policy Face-Off Machine to help you figure out where you stand here
Election Day is October 19th. Not sure you will have time to vote on Election Day?
Vote at an advanced poll, at your local election office or by mail, you can find more information on how to do this here
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