Thursday, August 20, 2015

Canada first. No one in second place.

My parents came to Canada during the 1920s.  They were poor, no formal education, spoke no English, were Catholic and settled in rabidly Protestant Toronto. They became Canadian citizens as soon as law allowed. In their long lives, they never spoke of the glories of their Austrian homeland nor of how things were done differently and better over there. They did not bring European politics to Canada.

Little wonder I have no patience for partisan and nationalist arguments among later immigrants. Disputes in foreign lands must be left there.

Little wonder my patience ran out in 2010. The then Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty met with the Indian transport minister to discuss trade. Because of a grievance back in India, a group of Sikhs protested. "Unless they make amends quickly, the Liberals will definitely lose this community's votes," said Harbans Jandali, president of the Ontario Sikh  and Gurdwara Council.

I sent a letter to the Toronto Star arguing that foreign problems are better left off-shore and that Canadian politicians should not be held hostage to behaviour on the other side of the world. I sent a similar letter to Mr. Jandali. The newspaper did not publish, nor did Mr. Jandali reply.

This came to mind when I read a report in the Star of August 13, 2015 headlined, "Canadian Jews in Israel could help Harper."

My email to the Star, also unpublished:

It's disappointing if people holding Canadian citizenship but living permanently in foreign countries vote in Canadian elections in a way to further the interests of those countries in preference to those of Canada.

In the forthcoming election, some such Canadians living in Israel will vote for Stephen Harper because of his stand on Middle East affairs.

Disappointing because my vote on Canadian issues will be cancelled by a single-issue voter concerned more with off-shore matters than with our economy, health care, Aboriginal rights, research funding, the environment and so on.

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