The nomination race between the two Canadians of Pakistani-origin is now facing a challenge that is purely a matter of statics, division of community votes and a tight number game strategy for both contenders
Even when abroad, Pakistanis continue to carry their distinct flavour in all walks of life. This also involves taking an interest in politics of their new country of residence. Recently, a new wave of political activism has emerged in Canada as provincial and federal Canadian elections are approaching and new ridings (constituencies) are either being shaped or have become vacant for new contenders.
It is good to see that Pakistani-Canadians are really learning the new ways of politics and its traditions practiced in the West, or in Mississauga, Ontario to be precise. Mississauga was formed in 1805, and the city has an area of 112 square miles with a mixed population of over 7,00,000 people. South Asians are second dominating community of this city and play a very active role in politics and social activism. Islam is the 3rd largest religion and Urdu is 2nd major language spoken in Mississauga after English and French.
Apart from other attractions of this booming dynamic city, the photogenic and camera-friendly City Mayor Bonnie Crombie is equally popular, active and very supportive for her community of Mississauga. The mayor enjoys good relations with the Pakistani community who equally admire her.
Pakistanis have also gone above & beyond to stand by their Mayor and with this collaborative joint effort City is flourishing in business and economic sector.
65+ year old Liberal Party’s MPP Harinder Takhar had been a favourite in this riding since 2003. He won three consecutive terms and now after his decision of staying with Centre Riding, contest is open for new nominations for Erin Mills. Therefore, fresh candidates have been tossing their names in the hat for this electoral riding.
Jumping on the bandwagon are two of our own Pakistani-origin Mississaugians, who have decided not only to run for nomination but also to face-off each other, thus causing a major split in their own numbers, dividing community and reducing the likelihoods of a clear win, yet they are determined and pursuing the race aggressively.
First contender who came forward to this nomination race, is a Liberal party loyalist and hard-core worker Imran Mian. Imran is a young IT professional, has a long history of volunteering, firmly believes in social justice program of Liberal Party and demonstrated active involvement in politics many times. Imran sets long term goals and works to achieve them. He is known to be a result-oriented enthusiast. Imran also has a good rapport within the party circles and bonds well with the party leadership.
The Pakistani community in Canada must act fast, move forward with unity and adhere to the core values of the Canadian Charter, while respecting others living in Ontario, instead of scaring them off
Pundits see him as a favourite for this nomination race and anticipate that he might even sweep the elections against rival parties when the time comes.
Another name among the Pakistani diaspora is Hifza Musa, who has a socialite, well qualified and down to earth personality.
She is also running in the same Erin Mills Riding for nomination. Musa is very active communally, but within the party she is yet to make some waves unlike Imran Mian. She is known to be very close to Iqra Khalid, Federal Member Parliament, who got elected in the same Mississauga neighbourhood community the federal elections.
Musa has great potential and can prove to be a good community voice as she is quite capable to effectively presents their issues in the legislative quarters. She seems to be surrounded and managed by pretty much the same team that was part of Iqra Khalid’s campaign in the federal elections. Iqra Khalid faced harsh resentments across Canada from Canadians on a provocative and controversial Islamophobia motion. Some fear that secular Canada might once again be infested with same style of faith-based politics where religion is used as a tool to win Muslim vote.
I noticed that phone number that Hifza Musa carries contains three magical digits 786 which some devout Muslims believe to be reflective of the Holy Quranic verse; Bismillah-Al-Rahman Al-Raheem (it is a phrase in Arabic meaning “In the name of God”; it is the first word in the Quran, and refers to the Quran’s opening phrase). Let’s hope it’s a good beginning for her political career too. Nevertheless, Hifza Musa can put a good fight and at the end she may very well surprise pundits and critiques and do an upset.
Meanwhile, this nomination race is now facing a challenge that purely is a matter of statics, division of community votes and a tight number game strategy for both contenders. Numerous attempts by the community think tanks and activists were made to resolve this split, and convince one of them to withdraw in other’s favour, but all in vain. This is not good at all, because it is not going to lead Pakistanis anywhere. One must act fast and make a right call to end this division.
We should also remember that after ‘Trump’s effect, Premier Kathleen Wynn’s disapproval in Ontario and Islamophobia motion 103 by Iqra Khalid, Liberal Party has lost its grip and PC Party on the other hand appears to be in a much better shape.
To reverse this harm, the Pakistani community in Canada and Muslim community as a whole must act fast, move forward with unity and adhere to the core values of Canadian Charter, while respecting others living in Ontario, instead of scaring them off. They must also come out of the denial mode and face the realism by trying not to follow in the footsteps of softhearted celebrity Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This path is not only going to isolate Muslims from mainstream Canadians but tarnish the real image of Canada and that’s not the Canada we all want to see.
The writer is a social and civil right activist and very vocal on Human Right violations across the globe. He works as Host/Producer (Current Affairs) at a leading news channel of North America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets @anis_farooqui
Published in Daily Times, December 10th 2017.