Words have power – the power to bring positive change or create hate in society.
Last week’s presidential election in the U.S. serves as a reminder that our spirit of multiculturalism and diversity must always be protected, and that the responsibility to do so rests in all of our hands.
Although our own federal election is in 2019, we need to become aware and prepare ourselves to reject any sort of hate, racism or discrimination.
Voters, politicians and the media all have an obligation to maintain the tapestry and mosaic of diversity in Canada.
As voters, we must not fall for inflammatory statements and fearmongering that some politicians might try to incite and spread in our society. We must hold politicians accountable and not only rely on 140-character social-media posts to determine the platform and direction for our country.
We need to scrutinize and demand that policies and their details are put forward, and that statements that candidates make are indeed true and factual.
We must reject racism, bigotry, sexism, misogyny and bullying from any candidate, and stand up for humanity as a whole.
I hope that we do not hear the type of hurtful comments that we heard in the U.S. election campaigning.
However, if we do, we must strongly voice our opposition, and speak up for our fellow Canadians.
Our political candidates have a great responsibility to Canadians. Their words have power and affect the lives of people.
During the campaign cycle and in the aftermath of the U.S. election, people have been assaulted, threatened and told to leave the U.S. because of their race or religion.
Candidates must work to maintain the multicultural spirit of our country.
They must realize that their words are not limited to campaigning and the election cycle, but that they are also role models for people across the country, including our children and future generations.
They must not incite hate towards people.
The media must ensure that it carries out its journalistic duty and holds political candidates accountable. It should not provide free advertisement and publicity to candidates who create hate and fear, standing in front of a microphone or typing statements on social media, and abusing their position and platform to simply gain publicity and votes by spreading hateful rhetoric.
Finally, moving forward, our relationship with the new U.S. administration and president-elect should be based on upholding a commitment to human rights and social justice.
Any trade deals negotiated with the new administration should be contingent upon the government ensuring that it respects the human rights of all communities.
Trade deals should take into account social justice and environmental protection, both here at home and in the U.S.
Furthermore, other trade agreements and domestic economic policies should also keep such considerations at the forefront.
Japreet Lehal is a Simon Fraser University graduate pursuing a law degree. He writes monthly for Peace Arch News.