As Canadians head to the polls, government attempts to ban the niqab have become a hotly contested election issue.
Toronto, Canada – Canadians vote in the federal election on Monday with polls indicating a close race between the three main parties – the Conservatives, New Democrats, and Liberals.
Opponents accuse the ruling Conservative party, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, of hindering climate change efforts, undermining freedom of speech, and enforcing controversial bills such as the antiterrorism Bill C-51.
After more than nine years of Conservative leadership, many Canadians says it’s time for a change, but many others still stand behind Harper and his government’s policies.
|Maher Azem , 32, IT technician|
“I have to vote because it’s my right as a Canadian citizen. I became a citizen of Canada in 2012, so this is the first time I am participating in federal elections.
“I voted for provincial elections last year here in Ontario, but I didn’t feel any difference in the country. Federal elections are more vital because it has a strong impact on the Canadian foreign policy and other major factors.
“My goal in voting in this election is to get Harper out of office as he brought Canada backwards. I am still not sure to whom I will vote for, Liberals or NDP.
I’m worried if I vote for NDP, I might contribute indirectly in Harper winning, as we heard rumours about the hazard of split votes between Liberals and NDP, which may grant benefits for Conservatives to win the elections.
“The polls show that Liberals are winning in our riding so I may have to go with a strategic vote.
“I still do not understand why Liberals have voted for Bill C-51. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau had a debate with Stephen Harper the other day opposing this bill by saying it’s the Canadian citizens’ right to maintain their citizenship.
“Why the government would revoke somebody’s citizenship while he could be prosecuted and brought to jail if he did something that threatened our country?
“I strongly believe that Liberals and NDP are better than Conservatives on the federal level. I am looking towards that change at least.”
|Melissa Rachel, 32, artist|
“I’ll vote for NDP for my children’s future. I want them to grow up with the same Canadian values and rights I had as a child. I don’t believe that our citizenship is a privilege; I believe it’s our right.
“There should not be different classes of citizenship in our country. It causes a division to the unity that Canadians hold dear.
“I also am concerned about climate change and the role we play as Canadians. Muzzling scientists from speaking the truth of their findings is not only dangerous for the Canadian environment, but also worldwide. We need to act before it’s too late, and we can’t do this if the experts trying to improve the environment are forcibly silenced.
“I like Tom Mulcair’s vision to keep jobs in Canada by keeping our raw resources here to be refined and processed. Our economy is suffering, and I believe this is a major step in the right direction for our financial future.”
|Malik Ba, 24, student|
“I will be voting for the Liberal Party of Canada. The infrastructure of our city is important to me. Liberals and their leader Justin Trudeau have made changes to our infrastructure a high priority level in their campaign. I believe they have a great plan to bring lots of benefits to the country.
“I will not be voting Conservative because, through Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s actions, Canadians have gotten a bad reputation regarding the environment and climate change.
“With a Liberal government, I wish to see more social programmes, especially for students to eliminate their debts concerning student loans. That’s one of the most important changes I would like to see from them.”
|Misha Ivanov, 36, accountant|
“I am voting because it’s important to participate in the political life of Canada. I decided to vote for the Conservative candidate who represents Prime Minister Stephen Harper in our district.
“The Conservatives will be an efficient government. I share their view regarding… the Ukrainian crisis, as I am originally from Ukraine.
“I support the current Canadian government’s foreign policy, which is backing Ukraine against the Russian invasion.
“Locally, I think Mr Harper’s economic plan is going in the right path as he plans to cut taxes for major corporations and support businesses in Canada. That will bring lots of benefits for all of us.”
|Tanner Parkinson, 20, student|
“Basically, I put a blank vote. I went to the advanced polls and put a blank card into the ballot box. I believe in their core, although they say they are different, all parties have the same goal in mind, which is political power. That’s the reason my vote was blank.
“For the future of Canada, if the Conservative government and Prime Minister Harper wins, it could get much worse for minorities like me.
“I would like to say to the young and old: Even if you don’t want to vote for any political party in Canada, it’s still important to go to the ballot box and make them hear your voice.”
|Nicole Smith, 20, student|
“I’m voting because I’m really lucky to have a voice. I’m choosing to keep my vote private in these elections, however. I will be voting as it’s very disrespectful to my culture and to my country not to when I am given this opportunity that so many people had fought so long to have.
“I’m voting because one ballot can make a difference. I think, here in Canada, there won’t be a major change regardless of who wins. Each party will change one or two things and claim that is a big reform, but ultimately, everything stays the same.
“I think it’s hard for somebody not in office very long to make a big reform. It’s not necessarily their fault or lack of trying, but big change is a long process. The Canadian political future won’t be much different after these elections.”