Does Mississauga have a distinct identity?

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Pradip Rodrigues

At last week’s public town hall meeting held at the Mississauga Council Chambers to discuss the issue of the city leaving Peel Region and becoming a single tier municipality many residents had their say, but one voice in particular caught my attention. It came from a resident called Michael who scoffed at the argument that Mississauga leaving Peel Region would reinforce and strengthen Mississauga’s “identity” and spur on civic pride. Michael was surprised to learn that Mississauga’s Mayor Bonnie Crombie and a large number of residents actually believed the city had an identity.

He quite accurately described it as a collection of cultural communities living together in a bedroom community.

A media outlet quoted him as saying: “I’ve lived in Canada for about 50 years; Mississauga has always been a ‘non entity’; it’s where the overflow from Toronto goes,” he said, saying he was disappointed there was no serious discussion over identity, only turf and money. Mayor Crombie bristled with indignation, went on to talk about Mississauga’s great economy and jobs and responded to Michael’s observations by stating she was ashamed of him for thinking Mississauga had no identity.

So does Mississauga or for that matter Brampton, Milton or any one of these so-called cities have identities?

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A few decades ago, Mississauga could be described as farm country. Twenty years ago, when I told anyone living in Toronto that I lived in Mississauga, their response was, “Ah, you live in the boonies.” It was nothing to be proud about, but as the value of land has gone up, Mississauga residents feel proud and grateful they don’t have to live in say Milton or beyond.

In earlier times when land in Mississauga was plentiful and housing was affordable, young families who found themselves outpriced from Toronto sheepishly moved to Mississauga. It was affordable housing that lured them to the city and is the same reason people are forced to look into smaller cities further from Toronto. No one really comes here for culture or entertainment. In Toronto, people are drawn to particular areas for their distinct flavor and identity, think Chinatown, Little Italy, Greek Danforth. No one from anywhere comes to Mississauga or Brampton to sample and enjoy its Muslim or South Asian flavor or culture. For that they have to visit the Carrassauga festival and get their passports stamped.

Mississauga resident Michael isn’t far off the mark when he observes that it is a collection of cultural communities. So, Brampton is a magnet for South Asians, Mississauga is immensely popular with Muslims and Markham is known for its very Chinese flavor.

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Mississauga, Brampton and a whole bunch of so-called cities are little more than dormitory suburbs. It is generally one large sub-division anchored by a series of strip malls and in the case of Mississauga, its downtown is really Square One Shopping Centre. All other attractions are scattered across the ‘city’.

If ever there was a subway built linking Square One to Eaton Centre, Toronto, it is quite possible that Square One mall could end up simply becoming a railway terminal. All those foreign students and others loitering around the Square One mall would simply buy a train fare and head down to Toronto where there are way more entertainment and economic opportunities.

The politicizing of apologies has devalued its meaning

Over the weekend there was plenty of coverage in the Indian news media about remembering the Jallianwala Bagh massacre that happened 100 years ago, on April 13, 1919.

For decades Indians have demanded an apology from the United Kingdom, including during Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Amritsar in 1997 but apart from deep regret, no British PM or royalty has issued a full apology.

That gave Indian politicians reason to express their outrage at this historic atrocity and demand an apology from the British government. Congress President Rahul Gandhi demanded an apology accompanied by reparations for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

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Instead of agreeing with the Congress leader’s demand for an apology, Shiromani Akali Dal leader and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal mocked him saying: “Rahul’s visit is just to gain political mileage. He should have tendered an apology for Operation Blue Star of 1984.”

Instead of putting up a united front to force an apology, Indian political factions ended up fighting each other which could only remind the British of their policy of Divide and rule. Little seems to have changed.

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh launched a blistering attack on the Akali leader Badal on twitter saying: “Did you, your husband @officeofssbadal or his father, Parkash Singh Badal, ever apologise for your great grandfather, Sardar Sunder Singh Majithia’s lavish dinner to Gen Dyer on the day of Jallianwala Bagh massacre? He was later knighted in 1926 for his loyalty and his deeds,” Singh tweeted.

So much bad blood over spilt blood is ridiculous. If this goes on much longer, it is quite possible our PM Justin Trudeau will apologize for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre on behalf of Britain. What’s one more apology? -CINEWS

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