Kei Esmaeilpour doesn't care whom you vote for, so long as you vote.
The Burnaby resident is displaying the campaign signs of all four of the candidates in his Burnaby North riding in an effort to reach out to potential voters.
The signs for Richard Lee, B.C. Liberal candidate; Janet Routledge, B.C. NDP candidate; Wayne Marklund, B.C. Conservative candidate; and Carrie McLaren, B.C. Green candidate, currently adorn Esmaeilpour's front yard.
Esmaeilpour, who has lived in Canada for about eight years, is the president of the Civic Association of Iranian Canadians, a nonpartisan non-profit group that attempts to inform new Canadians about the democratic process and issues in Canada.
"Our goal was increasing the level of participation by the people," Esmaeilpour said.
The issue is a complex one for Iranian Canadians, whose concept of Canadian politics can be marred by a fear of "back home problems," he said.
"In places without (democracy), people didn't have a chance to practice it," he said, explaining it can be a difficult adjustment for newcomers.
Esmaeilpour became interested in the issue after he became a citizen and began voting and volunteering with political campaigns, he said. After working the phone lines, calling potential Persian voters, he realized he kept hearing the same reasons for not voting - even after being here for years, many people had no idea how to vote or how to choose who to vote for, he said.
In 2010, he formed the association, along with Iranian journalists and other members of the community, in an effort to connect with voters in the Persian community.
"We tell them, politics is not difficult," Esmaeilpour said.
Esmaeilpour, whose employment background is not political - he was an engineer in Iran and now works in technical support for Canadian Blood Services - stresses the groups is non-partisan and is a social-political association.
It's important that people use the democratic rights they have, lest those rights be lost, he said.
"The people paid to establish this," he said. "If we don't use it, . nobody can guarantee we'll have those rights anymore."
© Copyright 2013