The faces in the room are filled with joy and pride as people recited their Oath of Citizenship at the Harry Hays Building in Calgary on Friday. For many of the immigrants, it marked an end to the years spent waiting and difficult journeys they took to get to their Canadian citizenship.
It also marks their first chance to vote in the country in the upcoming federal election.
“I am following the election but not closely, but now I will be following it more closely,” said Mehul Makwana, who moved with his family from India to Canada.
He said his top election issues are safety and the economy.
Federal political parties are courting new Canadian votes and doing their best to get them to the polling stations.
“They are a rich source of support and in some ridings, where their numbers are higher, they can make or break who wins in a particular riding,” said Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams.
Immigration policies are front and centre for some who attended the citizenship ceremony in Calgary, like James Nnaemeka who moved to Canada from Nigeria.
“I think it is very important to let people come in and then also to have a better life in a better culture like Canada,” Nnaemeka said.
For others, it’s all about finances.
“Immigration is, of course, an important issue but apart from that, the economic situation we are in now that forms the basis of all the other issues that we have,” said Sukhwant Sandhu who immigrated from India.
But not all the people Global News spoke with at the ceremony were eager to cast ballots. Some said their English isn’t good enough, while others didn’t see it as a priority.
“If politics was a dangerous activity in the country from which they came, they are much less likely to be engaged in political activities because they don’t see it as potentially positive,” Williams said.
Williams said the infamous Justin Trudeau racist make-up photos could play a role in how some new Canadians cast their ballots or could lead some potential voters to just check out altogether.
“For some of them, it might change their vote or it might just be the thing that makes it not worth their while to vote for anybody because they’re so disenchanted with the whole thing,” Williams said.
A September Ipsos poll showed that 14 per cent of Canadians see immigration as a top election priority. Those who said immigration is one of their top issues tended to be concerned with reducing it.