Emad Barsoum writes: Bridging the Gap in a Divided Community
Before the municipal elections started, there were expressed concerns about how ethnic groups and biases may dictate the choice of candidates or influence results. Not based on competence but rather on racial background or for serving particular groups’ interests.
During the campaigns, there were many videos on social media, direct email, and even mailing in languages other than English or French, our two official languages. Language is the first component of unity, unity in the present and the future, and it narrates history. It is the pride of every nation.
Many candidates failed to draw the line between reaching out to constituents who would share the same ethnic background and their responsibility towards everyone equally. Even more, some voters played a significant role in highlighting the influence of ethnicity by following personal opinions of previous politicians and following their endorsements to some candidates of unknown experience or qualifications for the office.
The urgent question is, would they lead through the same path after being elected by representing only their tribe? Needless to say, such differentiation prevails among all backgrounds, not necessarily citizens who immigrated in the last twenty, thirty, or fifty years, but among the immigrants who landed two hundred years ago too.
The eternal argument and debate that diversity is the secret of our power, indeed diversity creates more collective knowledge and experiences, more opportunities to succeed internationally and maybe a beautiful painting of a society. This is ideal if adopted without bias or prejudice, but it is challenging. It simply requires deep tolerance, acceptance of the other, profound culture, neutrality, and justice. These qualities are seldom present among average humans.
The prime concern here is when one of the groups succeeds in getting their candidate elected, they start to grow a strong sense of power above the other groups. They begin to look for more gains that could represent inequality among others, thus creating a more profound gap in the community.
The responsibility presently lies among those elected persons to bridge any gap created during the campaigns and to prevent more cracks that might erupt in the community they represent during their term.
An elected official should not rely on the fact that she or he has all the time before they could lose their office in the next elections, if they did not follow the right course of serving their constituents fairly and for the ultimate benefit of all.
The voice of the masses who are aspiring for a better place to live in, a safe place for their families, is much louder and more robust than a bi-law in the elections’ rules.
The same democracy that brought someone to office will be the same democracy to express peoples’ will for change.
Congratulations to all the re-elected Mayors, councillors, and trustees. You all did very well before, so we elected you again. Congratulations to the newly elected officials. We wish you well in your endeavors to well serve your communities.