Thursday, May 21, 2009

What's Next? I Can't Be PM Because I'm Brown?

So the Conservatives don't think you should be PM if you've lived outside of the country. This certainly explains their refusal to place any South Asians in their main Cabinet... or their unceremonious dumping of Raheem Jaffer. Of course it doesn't explain people like Toews or Ms. Ablonzcy. Perhaps they can "pass as Canadians" better? Perhaps another favorite Conservative fault is at play here as well (xenophobia).

So living/being born abroad somehow DIMINISHES your "Canadian-ness"? Really? Really, Conservatives? Really?

Every time I've lived abroad (and I have), I've been the most patriotic flag waver anyone could imagine. Of course I also adopt the local culture/nation a little bit, and try to consider myself "one of them" - at least for the time I'm there. It's what we expect anyone staying in Canada to do - adapt to our "culture" somewhat..., so why shouldn't our citizens living abroad do the same? "When in Rome, do as the Romans" and all that good stuff.

There are thousands of Americans residing in Canada - who maintain their American citizenship, but choose to live here - even prefer it. Are they any less American? They still fly their flags on the 4th of July. They still visit their family back home.

When Canadians go abroad, we bring our thoughts and culture and ideas to the foreign lands we grace with our presence. When Michael Ignatieff went abroad, he undoubtedly took along the egalitarian human rights ideas that are so Canadian. Many of those ideas were from his experience with Mr. Trudeau, and living in that almost utopian Canada of the early 70s.

The Conservative "drive-by smear" campaign is disgusting, and insulting to New Canadians, or Canadians who choose to live/work abroad for numerous employment and professional reasons. If a Canadian youngster is a great football player or basketball player (Steve Nash of Maple Ridge BC ring a bell?), should they not pursue their dreams of playing at the top levels of their game in the USA? Russian, German, Czech, and Swedish hockey players regularly adopt Canada as their home. They maintain their citizenship and play for their home national teams, but they become integral parts of the local community in Toronto, or Calgary, or Edmonton, or Vancouver, or Montreal, adapting to the language and customs, placing their hand against their heart and singing along to "Oh Canada", and for all intents and purposes, "becoming Canadian".

I suppose Canadians who have a chance to study or teach at Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, or Princeton, shouldn't go? Or, if they do "go", they shouldn't bother coming back? We might as well tell all those young Canadians who go to foreign Med Schools (because of the pathetically small numbers admitted here) that they should just go to the US? Yeah, that's the ticket - let's encourage the brain drain!

Canada is much better for Mr. Ignatieff being here. Canadians are saying it with their opinion of the Liberal Party, the Conservatives, and of Michael himself. The tone MI took upon becoming leader (even interim) galvanized Canadians. I daresay Canadians prefer the politics of "vision", and constructive growth, a politics of fiscal competence, over what Harper and his Mike Harris Conservatives have to offer.

Personally, I - and many like me - feel slighted by this Conservative government. We always knew and observed their lack of caring for what they term "outsiders". One only has to look at a string of the largest number of anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-First Nations, and anti-foreigner comments in Canadian history, uttered by these stalwarts of the Reform/Alliance/Conservative Party. Yes, die-hard Reformers will point to the odd stupid comment made by a Liberal MP (usually the "instant Liberal, former Conservative" MPs who jumped on the Martin bandwagon about 5 yrs ago), but these tiny examples were never as vehemently offensive as anything uttered by Reformers.

What the Conservatives are telling me, and many like me, is, if you're "different", or if you've lived abroad, or started out abroad, then you're not as Canadian as the rest of us. A lot of us lived and studied abroad, and I for one refuse to take this latest Conservative hate mongering sitting down.

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