New citizens use their vote for the first time

Freshly minted Canadians concerned about immigration policies, employment issues ahead of  2019 election

Jasmine Burt

Kevin and Kate Le will be in line at the polls on Oct. 21, their first time voting on Canadian soil since they moved from their communist homeland, Vietnam.

Sounds of birds chirping and a river trickling plays in the background battles with the whirring of electric manicure files. All while nine baby blue pedicure chairs line the wall of Nails Time, a nail salon on Ropewalk Lane.

Nail technicians in sterile white uniforms are busy giving manicures and massages.

This is a normal day for Kevin and Kate⁠ — husband and wife duo from Ho Chi Minh City, moving between their two Nails Time locations, the other being on Torbay Road.

Seven months ago, they celebrated a new business location and their new Canadian citizenship.

for Kate, it’s a milestone.

“I have never been happy like this,” she said about being a new Canadian.

“I love the education here. The school is perfect. I have seen the education here (and it) makes the kids grow up perfect and they teach them everything naturally with field trips.”

Kevin is also a nail technician and co-owner of Nails Time. He met Kate 18 years ago through a friend in Vietnam. He was a civil engineer in his home town, but struggled to find a job in the field here.

He and Kate came to Canada on an Investment Immigration visa. In the seven years they’ve called Canada home, they have earned awards like “ThreeBestRated Top 3 Nail Salons in 2019”,  “Top 3 Businesses of 2019,” and “Top 3 Nail Salons in 2017.”

Kevin said they came to Canada because they wanted somewhere for his boys, in Grade 11 and 7, to “start over again.”

He had a good job in Vietnam, but he said it was not good for his children there.

“In here there is a good education, good air, good everything for my boys.”

They can’t wait to enjoy the perks of her Canadian citizenship, like travelling to the Dominican without a visa, and voting for the first time. Canadians don’t need such a visa.

What Kate looks for in a politician is simple.

“If they are nice people, and they make something good for the country and the people,” Kate said. “I think that’s a good thing.

“I don’t know how to begin. I don’t follow a lot of news but for the first time I don’t have somebody in charge of me,” she said.

In covering Vietnam’s election, a Times Magazine article stated,  “according to official data cited by local media, the names of just 11 self-nominated independents were allowed onto the ballots. The rest of the almost 900 candidates were nominated by the central government or local authorities, all of which are controlled by the party.”

Kevin has a few issues that are important to him, being a business owner and a family man.

“I think about who will be good for childcare and my employees,” Kevin said. “I am also interested in immigration because I have a lot of my friends and family still in Vietnam that I want to come here.”

What he loves about Canada is how friendly the people are.

He recalls a time in his salon that a customer mentioned she couldn’t pay for an extra charge, but it was something she wished she could afford. Then, a lady couple of chairs down offered to pay for her.

The encounter ended with the two standing up and embracing, Kevin recalls.

“They make me cry sometimes,” Kevin said.

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