Monday, August 4, 2008

Not when sorry is enough but where

Stephen Harper attempted yesterday to make up for one of the most most infamous incidents in Canada's history -- when in 1914 the passengers aboard the Komagata Maru were turned away because they were East Indian or Sikh. However, in offering an apology, an he made one crucial error: He did not do so in Parliament, but in front of a crowd of 8000 in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey which has a large Sikh community. No sooner than he left the stage that he was jeered -- and the crowd voted by a show of hands to unaccept the apology. Nor was there any indication that there would be compensation for the descendants of this injustice.

This was totally opposite to when Harper offered an official Parliamentary apology for the Chinese head tax in 2006 or in June of this year to Canada's Aboriginals for the abuse they suffered in the residential school system.

This was not like what the BC Liberals (read small-c conservatives) did in regards to the Komagata Maru incident. They offered an apology on behalf of the people of British Columbia in the place where the apology belonged: In the BC legislature, which was done in May of this year.

Jason Kenney, the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity (gotta love the double speak in that one) says the matter is closed. But the Sikh community is a major voting bloc in the Lower Mainland, indeed across Canada, and I believe they will see this for what it is -- an insult. The matter is not closed, not by any means. It will not be in my mind until Harper repeats the apology on the floor of the House of Commons.

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