Where is Jason Kenney when you need him?
The Toronto Star reports that members of Canada’s large Sikh community are outraged by the visit of India’s transport minister, Kamal Nath, who stands accused of inciting bloody programs in 1984 in which thousands of Sikhs were slaughtered.
According to the account in the Star, eyewitnesses reported that on Nov. 1, 1984, following the assassination of prime minister Indira Ghandi the day before by two of her Sikh bodyguards, the man now welcomed to Canada led a mob that attacked a Sikh temple and burned alive the people inside. “A commission that indicted Nath could not determine whether he was involved. While Nath testified that he was trying to disperse the mob, a journalist on the ground testified he ‘was controlling the crowd and the crowd was looking to him for directions,’” the Star report said.
Federal and Ontario officials blew off the Sikh community’s concerns. A Foreign Affairs Department spokeswoman noted that the Indian government commission had investigated the accusations and concluded there was no evidence of wrongdoing. (Well, one supposes they would conclude that, wouldn’t they? Although, from the Star’s report, it sounds more as if this was a Scotch verdict – not proven, as opposed to not guilty.) Ontario’s Liberal premier, Dalton McGuinty, opined with remarkable insensitivity that 1984 was “many years ago.”
Now, I do not know much about Indian sectarian issues and I am not about to demonstrate my ignorance by commentating overmuch on them. Nevertheless, when it comes to suggesting that someone should forget about a pogrom because 1984 was a long time ago… Please! Tell that to my relatives who are still furious about the way some of our Huguenot ancestors were treated in 1572 by members of a different branch of the same religion.
Regardless, it seems to me that if you were a Canadian immigration minister concerned about visits that could be “detrimental to the national interest,” welcoming someone with this kind of reputation to Canada might not be the right thing to do.
But Mr. Kenney, the Conservative federal immigration minister who supposedly worries about such matters, is nowhere to be found.
Yet a year ago, almost to the day, Mr. Kenney seemed to be everywhere, ensuring that George Galloway would not be admitted to the country, seeing as the British Parliamentarian’s presence would indeed be a detriment to Canada’s national interests. Mr. Galloway’s crime? Taking food and water to besieged Palestinians earlier in 2009.
While Mr. Galloway has no criminal record and had spoken in Canada the year before without incident, Mr. Kenney concluded he was a threat to Canada’s security because of his support of Hamas, the elected government in Gaza.
Alykhan Velshi, Mr. Kenney’s intemperate spokesman, well-thumbed thesaurus presumably in hand, said at the time that “we’re going to uphold the law, not give special treatment to this infandous street-corner Cromwell who actually brags about giving ‘financial support’ to Hamas, a terrorist organization banned in Canada.” (It is of some concern that Conservative insiders know who Oliver Cromwell was, but that is a topic for another day.)
Apparently in the eyes of Mr. Kenney and his colleagues in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, being accused of “supporting terrorists” by trying to provide food and water to besieged people makes you a danger to Canada, but being accused of burning innocent people to death in their church gets the welcome mat thrown out.
Mr. Kenney really ought to explain the difference to Canadians. However, this is apparently not on the agenda since, as noted, the immigration minister seems to be uncharacteristically silent this week. One wonders why.