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Most crucial election is the municipal elections


Perhaps the most important of all elections amongst the three levels of governments, federal, provincial, and municipal elections, the most important and most crucial election is the municipal elections. Unfortunately, it is also the most ignored and neglected elections by the public. 

Don’t get us wrong, at AlAmeen we believe participation in every election is important, especially for minorities. Even more so for us Muslims who are being marginalized and feel left out of the Canadian electoral process. If the Canadian Muslims wish to build a political clout in Canadian political context and pave the way for future generations of Canadian Muslims to be actively involved in the political arena  than perhaps an extraordinary participation in municipal politics would be the way to start just that. 

Canadian Muslims cannot really blame themselves for neglecting their civic duty during municipal elections. Municipal elections in Canada normally experience the lowest level of participation. Usually less than fifty percent voters’ turnout. Whereas federal elections attract nearly sixty-five percent voters’ turnout. Voters’ turnout in last municipal elections in Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond, and Vancouver were 32%, 33%, 36% and 39% respectively. 

Federal and provincial elections have its own appeal and is filled with pomp and pageantry. There are political parties, and of course their leaders, millions of dollars in advertisements, large political rallies etc. etc. so it is very easy to be swayed by the momentum. However, it is the municipal elections that determines the quality of life you will be experiencing on daily basis, and not the federal or provincial elections.

Federal government deals with larger issues, “big picture” such as foreign policies, military, defence, tax collections, tax disbursements etc. Similarly, provincial governments portfolio includes healthcare, education, etc. 

However, the real work is done by those elected officials who roll-up their sleeves in the municipal council trenches. They determine how many police officers your municipality needs. They determine the number of elementary and high schools your municipality needs. They are responsible for the water, sewage, and garbage collections. The municipal council determines whether the street in front of your home needs repaving or not, and how to tackle traffic gridlocks in your municipality. 

Yet, we ignore our most important civic duty that could impact our daily lives. 

Not only that, in federal and provincial elections we are limited to vote for an elected official within set boundaries, and our choices are at times limited and at time we end up electing an official while holding our noses by applying the lesser of two evil theories. May be there is a Muslim candidate of your liking and historically he does not get elected because of his inability to garner the popular vote within that limited riding. 

Elected municipal officials’ portfolio is something to ponder over and taken seriously. It involves community vitality, policing, neighbourhood planning, community centres. Education, school board trustees, parks, waste management, public transit, community garden, green spaces. Leisure and culture, such as parks and recreation facilities, libraries, swimming lessons. 

However, in municipal elections all votes are pooled municipal wide, and communities have taking advantage of it by electing municipal officials of their choice who could be their voice in the council. It has also proven to be an excellent steppingstone towards federal or provincial elected official in future. It is the opportunity we as a community have missed out on dearly for so many years. May be its time to change that. It can be achieved if the community works together in a collectively and coherently. 

Fortunately, about 15 of our community’s social and political activists have stepped forward to play an active part in the political system and become the voice for their communities at the municipal council levels and we wish them success on election day. 

In Burnaby, a professional city planner and affordable housing expert, Mr. Gulam Firdos for the City Council position. 

In Tri Cities Mo Darwish is a member of the City of Coquitlam’s Economic Development Advisory Committee has decided to run for City Councillor Position. Adel Gamar wants to be the next mayor of Coquitlam and  Ali Tootian for City Council Position. In Maple Ridge Ahmed Yousef a current City Councillor is seeking a second term.

In Surrey, a well-known community’s social and political activist who does not really require an intro, Mr. Bilal Cheema. In his professional work he has served an advisor to several federal ministers including, health, fisheries and oceans, and immigration. Another community activists, Zubeen Sahib’s reason for running is to tackle affordability, cost of housing, and public safety. Ms. Nasimah Nastoh, founder of Hamed Nastoh Anti-Bullying Coalition to raise about consequences of bullying at school is seeking a position as a School Board Trustee. 

In Richmond, Adil Awan, an air transport pilot and a realtor, is also someone who does not require an intro as an active member of the community and Richmond Masjid is seeking a position on the council. Mr. Mohamud Ali Farah, who wishes to contribute to the development, and evaluation of municipal policies programs and other activities. Mr. Rahim Othman, Co-convenor of the Richmond Civic Engagement Network that conducted the first Doors open event in Richmond. A popular event that has been adopted by the City as an annual event. All three candidates are familiar faces at the Richmond masjid, known for their community activism and deserve our support. 

In Vancouver, Mr. Imtiaz Popat have stepped forward for the Mayor’s candidacy, Honieh Barzegari for the City Council’s position, and Matiul Alam for the School Board Trustee positions. 

Karima Budhwani is committed to building an economically vibrant, resident-focused, compassionate, greener, sustainable New Westminster. 

All the candidates that have stepped forward to serve Canada and Canadians should be appreciated for their courage and efforts. 

Running for an office is not an easy task. It requires certain level of courage and willingness to go the distance if necessary. Many of the familiar candidates here have proven their mettle by serving the community in their capacity as community activists and by volunteering their time. 

Time has come we acknowledge their efforts for the betterment of our community in past and ensure their election on the election day and offer our assistance to their campaign. 

At AlAmeen, we wish all the candidates very best, and encourage our community members to go out and vote. Saturday, October 15, 2022, go out and vote!