Harper's non-apology to the South Asian community and Jason Kenney's comments about "hot-headed Sikhs", as well as his blunt "no" to South Asians (regarding an apology for the Komagata Maru issue in Parliament), is continuing to trouble the South Asian community across Canada.
Here is an excerpt from the South Asian Link (large circulation South Asian paper). A description of the Maru incident is also included:
|Indo-Canadian Organization Makes Komagata Maru Apology An Election Issue|
Liberal leader Stephane Dion promised to apologize for the racist Komagata Maru incident in parliament during a campaign stop in Surrey last weekend.
By R. Paul Dhillon
SURREY – The Professor Manmohan Singh Memorial Foundation (Canada) has brought the Komagata Maru apology front and centre by taking out full page ads in Indo-Canadian newspapers, including the LINK with this message:
“South Asian Community Is Asking - Hon. Prime Minister Stephen Harper – WHY NOT KOMAGATA MARU APOLOGY IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS?”
The advertisement is signed Sahib Thind and Jasbir Sandhu – the heads of the Professor Manmohan Singh Memorial Foundation (Canada), which has long been championing the apology and recognition of this wrong.
Thind and Sandhu made national headlines in July when Prime Minister came to their annual Gadhri Babeyan Da Mela to presumably announce when the apology will be given in the House of Commons instead the Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered the apology to the gathered community members at Bear Creek park prompting criticism from the community which once again felt like being treated as second class citizen.
Thind and Sandhu also lashed out at the PM and his minion Jason Kenney saying the two had used the organization for their own purposes despite promises that Harper and Kenney were going to only announce the date of the apology.
In a brief interview with the LINK, Thind said it is important that we keep this message of the apology front and centre at election time because it is very important to the community that we get recognition for this historical wrong at the right place which is in parliament.
“We’ve decided to do this to make sure our voices are heard by all parties and that the Komagata Maru apology is the single most important thing for our community’s long and shining history in Canada,” Thind said.
Liberal leader Stephane Dion, who has previously supported the apology in the House, confirmed that his government will apologize for the racist Komagata Maru incident in parliament during a campaign stop in Surrey last weekend.
"I committed to an apology for the Komogata Maru tragedy in the House of Commons more than a year and a half ago," said Dion. "Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to address this in a political stump speech to avoid recognizing this injustice in Parliament is disrespectful."
Dion was speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of more than a thousand supporters in Surrey, British Columbia when he renewed his commitment to apologize on behalf of all Canadians in the House of Commons.
"The South Asian community deserves more. They deserve an official and respectful apology delivered in the House of Commons to provide closure on this issue," he said.
In 1914, the Komagata Maru steamliner arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, India. The ship was kept in Vancouver Harbour for two months while the Conservative government of the day evoked the Continuous Passage rule to prevent its passengers from landing in Canada. With the passengers on the ship on the brink of starvation, the Komagata Maru returned home under the guns of a Canadian naval vessel.
Dion went on to pay tribute to the community organizations who have worked for acknowledgment of this important issue and of Liberal caucus members who have been so supportive.
"South Asian community organizations have been fighting for recognition of this injustice for years and feel betrayed by Mr. Harper's indifference," he said. "And I also want to recognize MP Sukh Dhaliwal for working so closely with these organizations for so many years and MP Ruby Dhalla for successfully passing her Private Member's Bill requiring an apology in the House of Commons."
Dion closed by noting that comments from the Conservative's Multicultural Minister Jason Kenney about this issue and the community in general underscore that the Conservatives are insensitive.
"Mr. Kenney's response that, 'the apology has been given and it won't be repeated' is nothing short of insulting," he said.