PM’s Ramadan dinner shows the importance of the Muslim voting bloc

New research shows that a record half-million Canadian Muslims are now eligible to cast a ballot.

Stephanie Levitz | Toronto Star (CP)
June 28, 2015

OTTAWA — Twenty-one Toronto-area imams used a Friday sermon this spring for a singular message: the need for Muslims to vote in the federal election this fall.

The decision to make the unprecedented political pitch — imams generally shy away from politics — was spurred by new research showing a record half-million Muslims are now eligible to cast a ballot.

So the prime minister’s decision last week to host an iftar, the meal that breaks the daily Ramadan fast, was seen as an acknowledgment the potential heft of the community isn’t going unnoticed by politicians either.

That the acknowledgment came as part of Ramadan was significant, said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

“Ramadan is a time to renew our commitment to our shared values, principles like respect, tolerance and unity, by reaching out to our friends and neighbours and other communities,” he said. “Nonetheless, the iftar event certainly came as a surprise, given the track record of rhetoric and action that has alienated and marginalized Canadian Muslim communities.”

A perceived failure to reach out to Muslims in the wake of the jihadi-linked October 2014 attacks — including one on Parliament Hill — as well as the debate over wearing face coverings at citizenship ceremonies are two issues casting a pall on the relationship between the Conservatives and the Muslim community….