People should find time to go out and vote in the election unless they're too busy, says Minalini Mittal.
Ahead of the upcoming federal election Monday, Sept. 20, two Timmins immigrants shared why they’re going to vote and gave some tips for first-time voters.
Mittal, who moved to the city from Toronto a few years ago, encourages voters to do research beforehand and think about what issues they care about.
“You should have some knowledge before you go out to vote. Please don’t vote blindly,” she said. “At least, listen to what the candidates are saying about what they want to do.”
Mittal and her husband Deepak Datta voted in the 2019 federal election. She hasn’t faced any barriers or challenges except when her voter information card was mailed to her home address but her husband’s card didn’t arrive. When they went to vote, Datta was able to register on the spot.
Overall, the voting process went “very well,” Mittal said.
“As long as you can speak basic English language, you can go and vote,” she said.
To decide which party to vote for, she listened to the election debates.
“It was pretty surreal to vote, feeling that your vote will actually count and reach somewhere. And your voice will be heard,” she said.
Mittal moved to Canada in 2008 as an international student. As her and Datta's lives became busier with work and children, they didn’t have a chance to vote until 2019. Mittal also once voted in the provincial election.
According to Statistics Canada, five per cent of Canadians who didn't vote in the 2019 federal election said their reason for not voting was due to issues with the electoral process, including not being able to prove their identity or address, a lack of information about the voting process or issues with the voter information card.
Almost half of the non-voters, 46 per cent, cited everyday life reasons for not voting, including being too busy, having an illness or disability or being out of town.
Climate change, housing, immigration, supporting young families and seniors are some of the top issues for Mittal.
She’s still making up her mind for whom to vote in this election and is eagerly waiting for the debates. Last time, she voted for the Liberal party.
Mittal said she hasn’t heard anything about the local MP candidates and doesn’t know how to find more information about who’s running in Timmins and what they’re campaigning for.
“That’s what matters to me. I’m living in Timmins, so what can we do about Timmins to make it more popular, to gain more tourism here? People should come and spend in Timmins,” she said suggesting the local candidates reach out more to the voters. “Just seeing the signs in the city is not enough. You may know the name of the candidate but not more than that.”
Another Timmins resident Adarsh Neelam has been living in the city for the past seven years. He has recently received Canadian citizenship, so this will be his first time voting in the federal election.
“I want to utilize my right to vote as a citizen,” he said.
With his new passport, he received a paper containing information from Elections Canada. He checked to see if he’s on the list of electors and now he’s excited to be able to vote.
He follows the election news and looks forward to the debates.
Neelam, who’s the owner of Speedy Auto Service in Sudbury and Neelam Taxi in Timmins, wants to see a change in the city.
For him, more housing options and more newcomers to fill the labour gap are needed in Timmins.
“For the last seven years, I’ve hardly seen a change," he said.
Neelam said he wants to see new faces and someone who has power with the government and can make decisions at the table.
"I want someone from the leading party in Timmins who will form the government,” he said. “That way, we can get more funds and more development.”
He encourages voters not to wait until the last minute and to follow the COVID-19 protocols.
Voting is important to get the right person to win, he said.
“I wish the voting percentage will stay the same or increase, but not decrease because of COVID,” Neelam said. "Hope we'll have a good percentage of people come out and utilize their vote."
For details on polling stations and voter information card, visit elections.ca.
There are four candidates in Timmins-James Bay, NDP Charlie Angus, Liberal Steve Black, Conservative Morgan Ellerton and PPC Stephen MacLeod.
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com