PM apologizes for 1914 ship tragedy
Sikh audience rejects Komagata Maru gesture, wants Commons action
Aug 04, 2008 04:30 AM
The Canadian Press
SURREY, B.C.–Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized yesterday for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident in which hundreds of people from India seeking a better life in Canada were turned away.
Harper was speaking to a crowd of about 8,000 people in Surrey, B.C., which has a large Indian community.
But as soon as the Prime Minister left the stage, members of the Sikh community rushed to the podium and immediately denounced the apology, saying they wanted it delivered on the floor of the House of Commons.
Is there no pleasing these people? It seems the apology isn't good enough for them. They want it said in the House of Commons. Who do these people think they are?
Many of those aboard the Komagata Maru were Sikhs. Following Harper's speech, Sikh community leaders asked the crowd for a show of hands on whether to accept the apology. Then they announced that the gathering had rejected it.
"The apology has been given and it won't be repeated," said Jason Kenney, minister of state for multiculturalism, who was accompanying Harper during the visit.
For starters I just love the headline. So the Komagata Maru incident is a "tragedy" all of a sudden. Who wrote this piece?
Also the apology for the Komagata Maru incident is unwarranted just like an apology for the Chinese Head Tax is unwarranted as well. Taken out of historical context these events seem racist but at the time the acting government of Canada did the right thing becuase it was in the best interests of Canadians living in British Columbia. Immigration Watch Canada has written about it. You can read one article about the Chinese Head Tax here and about the Komagata Maru here. But put simply the livelihoods of Canadians were threatened by an encroaching influx of Asian immigrants into the young province. These immigrants also threatened to disrupt the ethnic and cultural balance of the region. For the social good and for the benefit of Canadians the government restricted the inflow of Asian immigrants into the province because it was in the best interest of Canadians. We should never lose sight of the historical context. This is especially true in a time when history is being rewritten, or portions of it ignored, to castigate Canadians as racists, yet again, to further compel us to hold our tongues when it comes to criticizing immigration policy and demanding that it serve the interest of Canadians first and not primarily non citizens living in foreign lands which is how it is today.
But I hope Stephen Harper learned his lesson. The ethnic vote cannot be so easily bought and their demands can be incessant. He should also come to understand that even though the apologies are nice gestures the ethnic vote almost always goes Liberal. If Stephen Harper wants to effect voting patterns he might want to reduce Canada's immigrant intake. If he doesn't he'll just keep bringing in wave after wave of Liberal party supporters and soon enough a Conservative wouldn't be able to get arrested in Ottawa.
Ironically in an attempt to steal away Liberal Party votes he may have inadvertently helped them this time around if he doesn't give them what they want: an apology made in the House of Commons. The apology won't be repeated says Jason Kenney. We'll see.