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participate in a study on Canadian South Asian Muslims
El-Farouk Khaki announces intention to take on "Rosedale Bobbie"

The Canadian Muslim Union would like to take this opportunity to congratulate new Liberal leader, St├ęphane Dion, on his victory. We hope that this represents a move by the Liberal Party of Canada back to a more nuanced and restrained approach to the so-called War on Terror in foreign and domestic policy, and back to a more equitable approach to public services such as health care.

We were disappointed that two of the leading candidates, Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae, had both taken some questionable positions. Ignatieff's vote to extend Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan, his pro-war stance on Iraq and his contradictory statements over the invasion of Lebanon made it clear that he was out of touch with Canadian values. And Rae's unabashed support for Israel's military excursions disqualified him from being taken seriously as a neutral voice.

Dion's opposition to Israel's invasion of Lebanon and his vote against extending Canada's military role in Afghanistan give us optimism that under his leadership, the Liberals may reclaim the more balanced and just policy track carved out during the Trudeau era, with the capacity to sensitively respond to today's rapidly evolving crises. We hope he will take note that Canadians of all stripes want Canada to be a force for peace and human rights in the world.

At the same time, we are concerned about statements he made supporting further privatisation of public services such as health care. As Muslims we believe in social justice and we believe that turning such essential services into private profit centres is inequitable, less efficient and more expensive.

We are equally concerned about domestic policies around issues of security and civil liberties as result of the war on terror. We hope that as leader of the loyal opposition, he will look at situation of the five Muslim men held under security certificates and at deportations to countries such as Iran. We also remain concerned that, in the name of security, many students of Muslim backgrounds are being denied visas to study in Canada.

So we welcome Dion's leadership with both caution and optimism. And we hope he will engage and incorporate progressive Muslim voices in the continuing discourse on Canada as a multi-cultural nation.

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