Ethnic groups mobilize to vote April 7

MONTREAL – For Arabic radio host Zaina Karam , the political discourse starts first thing in the morning.

Since the beginning of the election campaign, 24-hour Middle Eastern radio station, 1450AM, has had a mandate to encourage the Arabic community in Quebec to exercise their political right.

“They have lots of different points of views, we don’t push them to vote for this party or for another one,” said station manager Tony Karam. “But we push them really to go vote.”

The passionate calls flood in every second of the day and listeners on both sides of the political spectrum call in to express reasons why it’s important to vote in this election.

“The interesting thing about this election is you have an issue that directly speaks to the immigrant community,” explained political analyst, Bruce Hicks. “And that will have a mobilizing affect, I think, and may help bring out that community.”

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Italian immigrant Alessandra Guerra has lived through seven provincial elections in Quebec but she has never voted, until now.

“There’s a lot of fears, doubts about what’s going on, we’ve been seeing a lot of change since the news came,” she said. “We’ve been seeing violence, people feeling alienated.”

Guerra wants her voice to be heard so the country and province she loves so much doesn’t change, so for the first time, she’s registered to vote.

That’s exactly the kind of attitude the #jevote campaign is hoping to generate.

The founder of Support Another, a movement against the charter of values, is pushing those who don’t usually vote to think about why this election may be important for their future.

“We’ve come to Canada and Quebec to have this right and freedom to choose,” explained Sama Al-Obaidy. “So let’s take a chance, make a change and make sure we select a government that represents us as a society.”

And it may actually make a difference in some ridings, like Cremazie, where more than 6,000 Muslims live.

In 2012, the PQ candidate won Cremazie by just over 3,000 votes. If the ethnic vote comes out, Language Minister Diane De Courcy’s riding could slip away.

Star candidate Leo Bureau-Blouin won his Laval riding by less than 3,000 votes in 2012 — more than 5,000 Muslims live in his riding.

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As the political debates rage on on ethnic stations across Montreal, one thing is clear, in this election more than any other the ethnic vote could make a difference.

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