Seven visible minorities ran for office in the recent Halifax municipal election, one of whom say he had to deal with racism along with municipal issues when door knocking.
“Most of the people — 99.99 per cent of people — have been very kind, very generous, very supportive. It’s that 0.1 per cent of people who make me nervous,” said Mohammad Ehsan, who ran to represent District 10.
While campaigning, Ehsan, a professor at Dalhousie University, says he faced racist remarks both in-person and online.
“It’s a bit disheartening because I have to tell my kids, who are six years old, that this is what’s happening,” said Ehsan. “I don’t want them to grow thinking that they are different.”
Some of the negative comments Ehsan heard concerned his race and religion.
“I am obviously very proud of my background,” said Ehsan. “I am proud of my ethnicity, I’m proud of my religion, but that’s not at stake — the country has given us a lot and we want to give back to the country.”
Ehsan hasn’t filed a complaint with the city over the racist remarks. Halifax Regional Police have also not heard about any candidate being discriminated against.
“We would encourage any citizen, if they feel harassed or victimized in any manner, to come forward,” said Const. Dianne Woodworth.
Although Ehsan says he doesn’t take racist comments personally, he admits it can be demoralizing. Ehsan says by speaking out he doesn’t want to make the issue about himself, instead he hopes bring attention to the issue so others won’t experience the same thing.
“We all should accept the fact that racism is still there and we all have responsibilities to mitigate racism in different tiers of his life. That’s where I’m coming from,” Ehsan said.
“I want people to take a moment, think about it and realize the way we behave affects people around us. It affects how we teach our kids how to grow up, how to respect people.”
Elections Nova Scotia says they are not aware of any incident reported to them in the province regarding candidates facing racism while campaigning. A spokesperson says if someone does come forward, they would refer the case to the Human Rights Commission to be investigated.