By Hb Singh | OPINION |
Sikhs have on their own ‘appointed’ their candidate as deputy prime minister (DPM) of Canada. Believe it not, they did!
Somewhere towards the end of the Canadian general elections, it became clear that Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party could not muster the numbers to form an outright majority government. This opened up the possibility he may form a coalition government.
The New Democratic Party (NDP), a social-democratic federal political party led by Jagmeet Singh, seemed like an obvious choice. Before you know it, euphoric Sikhs had started sharing via the social media a poster congratulating Jagmeet for his appointment as DPM.
First, we look at the numbers. Liberals got 157 seats out of the total 338 seats up for grabs, with the Conservatives as closest rival with 121 seats. Then come Bloc Québécois (32), NDP (24), Green (3) and one independent candidate.
Before you know it, friends started forwarding the Jagmeet congratulatory poster. Is that so, I asked? A quick check of some reliable Canadian news portals showed no mention of it. I even went to Jagmeet’s Facebook page to double check. Zilch! Nothing there.
But this erroneous poster kept spreading, finding a life of its own. More and more people started sharing. By now, it breached the Sikh circle and had seeped into the non-Sikh communities.
I understand why Sikhs were excited. Jagmeet is an amazing politician. I followed his campaign. Remember the train ride where he unwrapped his turban and unravelled his hair to show a reporter what lies under the turban? Brave, indeed.
As a speaker, he could match outgoing PM Trudeau in style and presentation. At times, I think he performed so much better. He easily reaches out to the the people. When speaking with his fellow party candidates and supporters, you could see how comfortable he is with the people around him. Conservative’s Andrew Scheer comes across as stiff, in fact. And he and his team could suddenly break into bhangra or just dancing after a political gathering! The energy was captivating.
With all these pumped up moments, it is little wonder why many, Sikhs especially, were enamoured with Jagmeet. In that euphoria, many shared the poster proclaiming him DPM.
Were you one of them? Before sharing, did you ask yourself if the information were true? Did you take the trouble to first verify the information? Or did you just share blindly?
If you did, then you are part of the problem. You have just stuffed more junk into the digital space already brimming with tons of false and misleading information. There is so much out there that is not true. Worse, some of them are manufactured lies. Congratulations, you have just added to the growing digital junk.
We need to stop forwarding blind. This is definitely not a seva! It’s a disservice, actually.
And, if possible, we need to start adding value to the forwarding process. How? Simple. For a start, forward only stuff that you think will be beneficial. And that, too, forward only to those people who you think will benefit. Don’t simply send to everyone in your contact list.
Second, when forwarding, maybe tell your recipients why you are the material. At least I will know what motivated you to share that particular post. Now, that’s a wonderful value-add to the process.
So, we need to be less trigger happy, less we appoint another DPM.
Hb Singh is a Kuala Lumpur-based journalist with some experience in dealing with Sikh organisations, both from within and outside.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Jagmeet, Harjit Sajjan and some Sikh candidates who won in Canadian elections (Asia Samachar, 22 Oct 2019)