Why this election worries me
I want to express to you all how patient you have all been as I have shared and expressed opinion after opinion during this long election campaign of 2015. It is now only 6 days away. My only excuse is that I am quite passionate about my country, almost as much as I am about my children when someone is hurting them. I do think and feel that someone is hurting my country.
Allow me to explain myself a bit. I was a socially awkward kid – I found it hard to make friends. I know what rejection feels like. I also know what it is like to be judged because of being of a different culture. Being half francophone, as a child I had to listen to taunts from other kids about my French Canadian mother. Now I am considered as an anglophone living in Quebec and have at times seen my kids endure that same type of treatment here. In the past two years, my beautiful youngest bilingual daughter had to endure other kids ordering her not to speak her language in the hallways and at recess. Before anyone gets upset, I know that in my home province, francophone kids had to endure the same treatment back in the day if they lived in anglophone areas. Thankfully that has changed now.
The point is that my daughter had never experienced this type of confrontation before the provincial government at the time started to promote the importance of protection of language and it’s so called charter of values. This charter was about wearing religious symbols in the provincial public service. It felt like it was against anyone who was different than the average French speaking, citizen of European origin.
I learned that what the leadership of a province does, trickles down to the behavior of the citizens, even to the children. The French language in this and other provinces can and should be protected by leaders and laws, while encouraging respect for others. This did not seem to be the case at the time. Ultimately, my daughter no longer felt like she was part of the school community and she left to go where all parts of her would be accepted – French, English, whatever. It was a loss for her, for her best friend who was not able to follow, and for the school in not having her talent and contributions.
I see these dynamics taking place in the current election. Every time I hear or see negative comments towards Muslim people, I cringe. It feels the same as when I am judged for speaking a different language or being of a different culture. It feels oppressive. I can put myself in the place of the Muslim people I know. The fact that the reigning government is planning law and policy based on judging and discriminating against people because they are different is scary to me.
And, I see a negative effect already. Attacks against Muslims have increased. Just the other week, a pregnant woman in Montreal fell to the ground as youths forcibly removed her headscarf – emboldened I am sure by the governments’ statements about Muslim women wanting to take the citizenship oath. Such negative effects can spread outwards. People can feel they are not accepted as part of the community as my daughter felt. They can feel that their contributions are not valued. Such attitudes can destroy community, not build it up. Each of us has something to give to the world, but it is hard to do so if one is constantly judged for being different.
The other issues that are important to me – the protection of the environment, universal healthcare, universal mental health care, affordable housing, and care for the vulnerable in society, I don’t see this government doing anything about. I find it deeply disturbing that these important issues are pushed aside. Instead fear of people that are different and misunderstood, is used to gain votes. That makes me want to protect the vulnerable, to protect the values that I thought existed in Canada. It makes me want to protect the notion of an inclusive society and a community where each one is valued.
Before you vote, I will continue to encourage you, my dear friends, to carefully give consideration to electing a government who will lead us to be the best Canadians we can be. Ask yourselves who promotes the most fairness, and inclusiveness. Who encourages the building up of community which includes health, food security, housing, jobs close to home, protection and support of the most vulnerable, and of the environment? Who encourages us most to be supportive of our neighbors in the world and to promote peace? It’s what Canada has been in the past and needs to be more of in the future.