In the Canadian federal election held on 19 October, the Liberal Party lead by Justin Trudeau won a landslide victory gaining 184 seats in the 338 seat parliament unseating the Conservative Party government led by Stephen Harper which only obtained 99 seats.
The Liberal Party’s increase of 148 seats from the previous election was the largest ever numerical increase by a party in a Canadian elections ever.
The Liberal Party campaigned with the slogan of “Real Change”, for multiculturalism, against fearmongering, respect for all faiths and cultures and a non-aggressive approach to war on terror.
On the other hand the Conservative Party fought on the slogans of “Safer Canada”, security, fear of terrorism and in support of global war on terror.
The surprise win of the Liberal Party that now includes 10 Muslim MPs (see report here) demonstrates the intelligence of the Canadian electorate that saw through the fearmongering and xenophobia propagated by the incumbent government and therefore voted for a change to sensible and rational politics.
The tremendous seachange in Canadian politics has a number of lessons for Australia:
The theory that incumbent governments can get re-elected by creating a climate of fear and insecurity has, this time been proven wrong.
Messrs Bush, Blair and Howard used these tactics to get re-elected by duping the electorate by exaggerating the fear from terrorism, invasion by refugees and asylum seekers and using Muslims as the bogeyman.
With the unfortunate refugee problem in the Middle East and some movement towards Europe the racist political parties are trying the same tactics of vilifying Islam and demonizing Muslims in order to gain votes.
Like Stephen Harper, Tony Abbott was also creating fear of the death cult, excessive alarm over radicalization and exaggerated risk from terrorist threat to Australia. Well luckily he was ousted by his own party and we have a Prime Minister who is much more sensible than him.
The Australian government should invest its resources in building infrastructure and bringing people together in order to create a united, harmonious society than spending billions on security, legislating harsher laws, monitoring people and invading their privacy.
The Australian Labor Party needs to search its soul and like the Canadian Liberal Party needs to review its policies on various issues rather that copying the policies of the Liberals so that the electorate can make a distinction between Labor and Liberal. In the long term this will give Labor electoral edge during elections.
There should be an integrated approach to tackle terrorism, radicalization and rebellion amongst youth. Root causes that lead to these unwanted outcomes should be found and addressed. Peace with justice, an honest and neutral foreign policy without double standards and fair treatment of all Australians without vilification and demonization should be promoted.
Muslim Australians must realize that Western Societies in general and Australia in particular is relatively the best place to live on the globe with equal opportunity to education, employment, residence with prosperity, security and peace.
Any differences, grievances and injustice must be addressed in a peaceful manner using freedom of thought and expression, democratic rights and recourse to law in our democratic society..
Z I Ahmad