Abubakar Kasim Headshot

McGuinty Was a Premier Who Understood Immigrants

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I was caught off guard and shocked to hear the abrupt departure of Dalton McGuinty from the Ontario's political arena.

Irrespective of your views of the man and which side of the political fence you stand on, the dedication, commitment and sincerity of the man can not be disputed or denied.

Whatever the hot issues facing his government might be, it is nevertheless a courageous move to see a politician stepping down willingly and honourably.

I come from areas of the world where this is unheard of. A leader becomes so obsessed with power and would do anything in the process to stay on even if the entire country goes in flame. He and power become one entity that can not be separated.

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I got the chance to meet Mr. McGuinty in person on several occasions especially at the International Muslim Organization of Toronto, IMO, which is one of the largest Muslim centers and it is the hub of different ethnic communities from Muslim countries.

He used to come there to instill hope in the besieged and marginalized community at a time when the federal government had forsaken them and the leader of the nation had never stepped his foot in a Muslim community before as if Muslims were not true Canadians.

You could feel a sense of humbleness in him, his commitment to the people he had taken an oath to serve and his dedication to family values.

He was not a leader who is overtaken by arrogance. He had always had a genuine and non-partisan smile on his face and would come down to earth to talk to regular Joe on the street.

Whenever I had the chance to hear him speak, he used to remind people to remember their background and not allow arrogance overpower them. He kept repeating himself that he was the son of immigrant whose ancestors came to this country as everyone else -- looking for hope and a decent life.

It is sad to see people who are overtaken by arrogance and looking down at other immigrants and speaking to them in a condescending manner while forgetting themselves and where they come from. Because they were born here and speak with no accent they take things for granted and look at others as if they are from outer space, ridiculing their cultures and some times asking them to "go back to where they come from."

Mr. McGuinty, however, never behaved in this manner and kept instilling hope in people like myself who look different and speak with an accent and some times feels the heat of hate mongers who tell me to go back to where I come from. They tend to forget the fact that everyone except native Indians was an immigrant to this great nation of ours.

Mr. McGuinty's courageous move to step aside especially when the environment at Queen's Park has become toxic and was difficult to do something constructive and at a time when stakes are high and finger pointing is the norm of the day, it was a decision that shows the quality of his leadership.

A true leader is the one who knows when the time is up and when to vacate the scene and give the chance to someone else.

Mr. McGuinty -- with his genuine smile -- will certainly be missed dearly.

I wish him all the best in his future endeavours and life ambitions. No matter what might have taken place in the alleged mishaps by members of his party including the alleged misconducts, he will still be remembered as one of the noblest politicians whom we have ever been blessed to have.

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