Did you vote in advance polls? If not the election day is today.
Throughout this campaign, all the politicians have tried to convince you that their leader is the person who will remain committed to your concerns if elected on Oct 19.
The Conservatives even borrowed a page from Tanzania’s ruling party, CCM campaign book in luring the votes in Punjabi and Chinese communities by distributing literature in their own languages.
The party leaders themselves have done a darn good job in romancing the ethnic voters in parts of Canada, where ethnic vote is crucial. For instance, the party leaders have shuttled back and forth, accumulating not only air miles but also potential votes especially from South Asians and Chinese voters, the two fasted growing immigrant communities in many parts of Canada.
However, there was little or no time spent by party leaders in our communities, the East African Canadians, which includes Ethiopian, Somali, Tanzanian, Kenyan, Ugandan, Rwanda and Burundi communities.
Indeed, most of our concerns are the same as the rest of Canadians; Childcare, healthcare, affordable housing, jobs, transit and gridlock, just to name a few.
However, as immigrant community, we also have some issues that directly affect our community, such as immigration, including family reunification and social issues such as inter-generational conflicts. While, these matters and other are our every day conversation, it never leaves our Diaspora meetings or dinner tables.
The other political issue of concern for the East African-Canadian communities is ways some politicians play the political football to their advantage by creating a wedge between multicultural communities like ours.
One such issue is whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear their niqab at Canadian citizenship ceremony.
It is hard to phantom the niqab arguments to be other than creating divergence in the communities that includes diverse Muslim population. It is not a secret that since the ban, only two women have requested to keep their niqab; yet the debate has dominated Quebec and parts of Canada.
Unless these and other priorities are identified and are brought to the attention of the general public, it is likely that the main party leaders will continue to spend little or no time meeting with our community to hear our concerns. In another words we will be left out and just get in the sound bites only, similar to what was said in one of leaders’ debate, when the issues of Syrian refuges came up in a same sentence with that of the plight of Ugandan Ismaili community, who were expelled by then Uganda’s strong man Idi Amin Dada.
The inattentiveness of the main party leaders for Ethiopian, Rwandese, Burundians and Kenya and Tanzania and other East African communities is in part our own disunity and part lack of votes to be gained.
Come tomorrow Oct 19, we have to choose the best candidate who can represent us all for the next term.
We have to vote for those who will help us and the community grow and prosper free of carding and other concerns. And it is up to us to start knocking on their door for help as soon as the next prime minister is elected.