TORONTO – A famous Syrian refugee turned chocolate businessman in Nova Scotia celebrates after voting for the first time in a federal election.

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Tariq Haddad posted a video on Twitter on Monday where he said it was his first time voting in Canada’s federal election.

“It’s a big moment and I’ve been looking forward to it and I will cherish this memory forever,” he said in the video.

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“I’m so proud to know that my vote makes a difference. It’s so rewarding and I voted because Canadians sacrificed so much to protect my right to vote. That’s why I encourage you all.” I want you to get out and vote as soon as possible. Thank you Canada for giving me this wonderful moment.”

In an interview with Granthshala news channel on Tuesday, Haddad said he couldn’t sleep the night we were about to vote because he was too excited.

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“It’s absolutely amazing to know that I have this amazing privilege,” he said. “We should not take this lightly, because people all over the world are suffering for this privilege.”

Hadad and his family immigrated to Canada in 2016 after his chocolate factory in Syria was bombed. Just weeks after arriving in Canada, Haddad began rebuilding his chocolate company in Antigonish, NS, and started a business called “Chocolate by Peace”.

Peace by Chocolate hires newbies to Canada and local residents to create treats that are shipped around the world. A portion of each purchase goes toward “peace-building projects” around the world and in Canada.

“I am here not only to contribute, but to create jobs and be a part of this wonderful nation that we are proud of,” Haddad said.

Haddad became a Canadian citizen in January 2020 and voted in the Nova Scotia provincial election earlier this summer, but this is the first election where he was able to vote federally.

“When I came to Canada, I swore that I would use this freedom (to vote), because it’s not just my right, it’s my prerogative,” he said.

As for who he voted for, Hadad did not disclose which party, but said he voted for a platform that cares deeply about climate change and immigration.