Be it Kashmir or Khalistan, back home political issues are a guilty pleasure that few immigrants can steer clear off. Ironically, they are more involved in it than local Canadian matters. Why? For one, they haven’t severed the umbilical cord to the ‘motherland’. Glued possibly by the guilt they feel about ‘abandoning’ their ‘home’. This keeps them invested in what happens in their country of origin and from fully assimilating in Canada.
Sadly, our misplaced multicultural philosophy has stripped us of a Canadian identity. Envisioned as a means to be inclusive, it has resulted in creating ghettos with groups using their communal identities to their maximum advantage. Tags like Indo-Canadian qualifying achievers or criminals exemplify the issue at hand. Why can’t we just be Canadian?
This brings us to Brampton MP Ramesh Sangha’s recent accusations about the Liberal party’s pro-Khalistan stance. With photos of community celebrations with pro-Khalistan messages graced by several party leaders becoming common place over the years, this is not breaking news. I’ve often wondered about their indiscretion and callousness. Finally, India raised a stink about it and snubbed our dashing PM during his ‘official’ vacay there forcing Trudeau to take a stand. While our desi-costume-wearing Canadian prime minister affirmed his support for an undivided India, walking the talk here at home is an entirely different matter. Both he and his ministers risk alienating a potentially large vote bank. Suicidal in any election, let alone the current one in which his political future hangs by a thread.
The reality is that no party is above using communal politics to get ahead. And we let them! While former prime minister Stephen Harper condemned Canadians supporting Sikh separatism and predicted closer Scheer-Modi ties, he too walked the tight rope during his term in office. Barraged with questions about Sikh separatists here, he pledged his support for India’s unity but declined to interfere with the political rights of Canadian Sikhs advocating for Khalistan.
And last year NDP leader Jagmeet Singh went on the defensive when questioned about his attendance at an alleged 2015 Sikh independence rally in San Francisco. For his part, Singh has often side-stepped questions vis-à-vis Khalistan. His statements about the ‘state-sponsored massacre’ and ‘genocide’ of Sikhs after the assassination of Indira Gandhi earned the ire of the Indian government who then denied him a visa. Without mentioning his name, Indian officials said anyone attacking India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is not welcome there.
Kashmir has not figured on the politicians’ agenda yet but there are rumblings for and against India’s abrogation of article 370 in certain communities. A gentleman who attended MuslimFest in Mississauga was shocked by the distinct anti-India sentiment during some speeches. Which brings us to the critical question of whether political issues should have been raised at a ‘cultural’ event. While NDP’s Gurratan Singh received plenty of media coverage and praise for his response to the Islamophobic remarks made at the event regarding immigration, no mention was made of the rhetoric about the Kashmir issue. This despite the fact that mainstream media covered demonstrators supporting Kashmiris steps away from the India Day celebrations in Toronto with little mention of the festivities itself.
Why do politicians feel the need to make their presence felt at these communal events if not to indulge and take advantage of the tribal mentality? It’s a mutually-beneficial relationship that thrives on divisiveness.
That being said it is not clear why Sangha decided to spill the beans now or continues to be part of a party that he clearly thinks is in the wrong. Does he have an agenda too?
There is concern about India (and China) influencing the federal elections through its diaspora. We’re seeing it play out already! India has been clear about ‘no outside interference’ in their internal matters, it’s time we showed Canada the same respect!!! -CINEWS