Muslim Council Of Montreal Issues Election GuidelinesJanuary 21, 2006
Montreal January 20, 2005: On Monday January 23rd Canadians will be asked to choose who they wish to see form the next Federal government. It is the position of the Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) that it is very important that members of the Muslim community learn about the platforms and positions of each party and their riding candidates before casting their vote.
In an internal memo circulated to Montreal's Muslim community leaders and activists on Thursday, MCM President Salam Elmenyawi stated that "voting is a must for Muslims" and that "if Muslims do not vote on Monday they in fact help weaken the community and disenfranchise it."
"Voting does not mean you have to give your vote to someone," stated Elmenyawi, and that "our presence at the polling station is already half the work." He also stated that if someone knows that one candidate is better than another or that electing that candidate would be better than electing his/her opponent, "then it is Islamically obligatory on Muslims to reduce the harm, as advised by the Prophet Muhammad."
"We are not giving a proxy to someone to act on our behalf, we are actually trying to correct the choice of others to avoid having more harm, if we can," he stated.
In the memo Elmenyawi further stated that the position of MCM, as well as many other Muslim Organizations across Canada, is that there is no official endorsement for any party.
"Muslim-Canadians, in general, have to vote with their conscience," said Elmenyawi.
"We have proved our presence and made our point that the Muslim community is watching the politicians," he stated, and, as a result, "Muslims are an electoral force to be respected and engaged on a variety of issues."
"We will be voting for the best person and not the best party if it is possible. If the candidate's track record was not clear or, in the overall, similar to others in his/her riding, then we will give support to the one who belongs to the better party," Elmenyawi stated.
Elmenyawi cautioned that the best candidate should not be assessed on the bases of a few visits to local mosques, personal friendships or some favours that benefited a Mosque or a few individuals.
"These are important factors for giving our support, but it comes secondary to the bigger picture," he said.
"The best candidate is the one who benefits the Muslim Community at large and, in addition, benefits all Canadians."
Elmenyawi noted that Muslim organizations have been meeting repeatedly and communicating with various politicians before the election and with the candidates, after the announcement of the election, to find out their respective positions on a number of issues and attempt to have them to understand those issues which are important to the Muslim community so that they may change their position.
"There have been many such encounters, which were very fruitful for the community as politicians were able, in some instances for the first time, to hear and understand our concerns," he stated.
Elmenyawi also stated it was important to note that, for symbolic reasons, "we would like to vote against Denis Coderre, in the riding of Bourassa, due to his position on the Security Certificates, and the fact that he signed three of such Certificates against Muslims who were detained in prison without being charged with any crimes."
Elmenyawi stated that Coderre's position to this very day has not changed and that he has no regrets for his actions.
Elmenyawi noted that Coderre refused repeated requests from MCM to meet with him when one Muslim, Adil Charkhaoui, was detained under a security certificates two years ago.
"Our phone calls have not been returned until now," said Elmenyawi.
"In Coderre's riding Muslims should support the Bloc Quebecois Candidate who has a better chance of winning."
Elmenyawi also noted that Pierre Pettigrew has changed his position on number of issues and gave the community a written letter promising to work on these changes, if elected. Most notably, he promised to rectify Canada's UN vote against combating Islamophobia and to treat immigrants equal to citizens before the Canadian courts, which would prevent detaining them without being charged. (see Pettigrew's letter at: www.muslimcouncil.org)
He further stated that there are those among the Liberal party "who worked hard against the interests of our community, intentionally or not, so you should know about them and get them to know it. There are also those who did good job against all odds, you should therefore support them. In the ridings where a candidate worked against our interest, the vote should go to the Bloc, if there is a reasonable chance for their candidate to win, otherwise, you may vote NDP."
He further advised that "if there are some Muslim Candidates, if you know them, and you know their views to be that of the mainstream ideas, and that voting for them will not benefit the wrong side, then please do support them."
For further information please contact: Salam Elmenyawi, President of the Muslim Council of Montreal - P.O. Box 5286 St-Laurent Stn, St-Laurent, H4L 4Z8 Phone: 514 748 8427 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.muslimcouncil.org
You can read each parties' platforms at the following websites:
Bloc Quebecois: http://www.blocquebecois.org/fr/nos_publications.asp