When it comes to elections, Muslims in Canada don’t get excited enough to go out and vote. However, a non-partisan group hopes to change that and began its efforts last Friday which being a holiday tended to be one of the most-attended days of prayer.
On Good Friday, imams at 69 mosques in five provinces — Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec — delivered a coordinated message on the importance of voting in four different languages.
The non-partisan, non-profit group Canadian Muslim Vote came about in 2015 with the aim to reverse the cycle of poor voter turnout among Muslim Canadians.
The number of eligible Canadian Muslim voters is nearly 1.6 million and by 2030, one in 10 Canadians are expected to identify as Muslims, which makes them arguably one of the largest voting populations in the country, Statistics Canada estimates.
A 2007 working paper by the elections agency put Muslim voter turnout in the 2000 federal election at 67 per cent, compared with 85 per cent for voters who identified as Jewish, 82 per cent for Catholics and Protestants and 78 per cent for Hindus. Total voter turnout in that election was 61.2 per cent.
That changed in 2015. A post-election poll by Mainstreet Research pegged Canadian Muslim voter turnout at 79 per cent. National turnout in that election was 68.5 per cent.
This year, based on research by Canadian Muslim Vote, there are some 65 ridings where the Muslim voting population is larger than the margin of victory for the 2015 incumbent MP.
One area where the Muslim vote could prove decisive is the riding of Milton, where its incumbent won by 2,438 votes in the last election. Given their large numbers in that riding ensures their vote can impact the outcome.
Given that Islamophobia has emerged as an issue of concern, activists are hoping that the concern will drive them to seek out a political party and leader that has demonstrated his or her commitment to tackling the issue.
The group has been working to survey voters heading into the 2019 election and expects to have results on their key issues of concern this May.
What seems to be rattling the community is the fact that a right-wing and anti-immigrant sentiment is taking hold of a large number of voters. Some political parties are perceived to be courting these voters.
Even though Imams and activists say they are neutral and aren’t directing the community to support any particular political party, there is a definite Liberal slant to their message. -CINEWS