Saturday, January 27, 2007

History Repeats Itself with Maher Arar


Maher Arar and his wife (left)

In the foreword of Canadian historian Afua Cooper’s book The Hanging of Angélique, George Elliott Clarke wrote that “Canadians prefer to understand themselves” as “a nation of good, Nordic, ‘pure’, mainly White folks, as opposed to the lawless, hot-tempered, impure, mongrel Americans, with their messy history of slavery, […] segregation, assassinations [and] lynching”.

Besides being a “flattering self-portrait”, this comparison is also a “public lying, falsified history, and self-destructive blindness” (Clarke). The case of Maher Arar represents an appalling repetition of our nation’s History that breaks the myth of our supposed tolerance and moral superiority. In fact, that case can certainly be compared to the ordeal endured by Canadians of Japanese and Italian heritage during the Second World War.

Maher Arar is a Canadian citizen who got deported to Syria and tortured by this Arabic country’s authorities. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) sent truncated information to the American government about a Canadian citizen visiting the USA who happened to be Maher Arar. Moreover, Arar was identified as an extremist Muslim working for the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda.

As for the Canadians of Japanese and Italian heritage, they endured an ordeal in the turmoil of the Second World War that differs slightly to that of Maher Arar. They were unfairly imprisoned, because the government (that was led by liberal Prime minister Mackenzie King) feared the eventuality of a coup d’État operated by a “home-grown” fascist ideology coming from the Italian and Japanese community in Canada.

The imprisonment of Canadians of Japanese and Italian heritage was done without the help of the American government. In what we can certainly call the Maher Arar Affair, both the RCMP and the Canadian government got completely sullied by the way they handled this affair. On the other hand, during the Second World War, the government kept associating Canadian of Japanese and Italian heritage with fascism.

Nevertheless, agents of the RCMP clearly upheld in a very detailed report that Canadians of Japanese and Italian heritage don’t represent any threat at all. According to the report, people from these two ethnic communities were law-abiding and their loyalty to Canada was not to be questioned. Unfortunately, Mackenzie King went on to order the national military police to imprison many of these people because of his racism.

Despite the relative difference in the historical background, these two events are linked together by the intention pursued by the Canadian government notwithstanding the historical context that we want to describe.

During the beginning of the Second World War (1939-1945), Canada decided to stand up for democracy and freedom. On the European front, Canada was struggling alongside with Great Britain and the USA to fight against the rise of fascism embodied by German chancellor Adolf Hitler and Italian president Benito Mussolini. However, Canada’s Prime minister Mackenzie King believed that it was part of the nation’s interest to extent that fight against fascism on Canadian soil.

While fighting fascism, the Canadian government also curbed civil freedoms. While many Canadians of Italian heritage got send quite quickly into a military prison in Petawawa (Ontario), those of Japanese heritage saw their properties and goods being sold at a public auction (because they were Asians) before they got sent behind bars. In that time, Canada asserted its Western identity and tried to defend the values of democracy not just in Europe, but also on its own soil.

Replace a few words in the previous paragraph and you’ll notice that the Maher Arar Affair shares a few similarities with what happened during the Second World War. For example, while Canada is striving to eradicate the roots of Islamic terrorism in Southern Afghanistan alongside with the USA and other Western nations, our country, with the efforts of the Liberals led by Jean Chrétien and then Paul Martin, has also extended its “war on terrorism” (George W. Bush) on its soil, through the Immigration Ministry’s “security certificate” for instance. These “security certificates” are aiming certain “suspicious” citizens who happen to be 1) Muslims and 2) of Oriental heritage. In short, in that “war on terrorism”, Canada not only fears for its own national security, but also that of the USA.

The imprisonment of Canadian of Japanese and Italian heritage during the Second World War and the Maher Arar Affair was the result of the Liberals’ fertile imagination. As strange as it might look, it has always been the Conservative Party, in both cases, that offered “apologies” to the victims. In 1988, conservative Prime minister Brian Mulroney’s expressed his recognition of Canada’s past mistakes to the Italian and Japanese communities without using the word “apologies” in a press communiqués.

Mulroney feared that the word “apologies” would force the Canadian government to make financial compensations for what happened during the Second World War. Today, the Prime minister of Canada Stephen Harper, the leader of the Conservative Party, offered his apologies on the behalf of the Canadian government and a cheque of $10.5 million to Maher Arar. While you’re reading this historical analysis, Maher Arar is still on the USA’s “watch-list”, which means that he doesn’t have the right to visit our Southern neighbours.

It’s strange to see that most Canadians don’t even know that History almost repeated itself during the past four years through the Maher Arar Affair. While History keeps being written day after day, Canada, as a supposedly glorious nation, probably doesn’t know where it is heading because many citizens tend to forget that History is not only our collective memory, but also our guide to evolution.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mario Dumont's past flexibility

Yesterday, an article of La Presse written by Tommy Chouinard went back into History. Despite being very interesting, the article doesn't seem to know how to say that the leader of the Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ) Mario Dumont used to be in favour of religious accommodations in 1999. To understand why Dumont changed his mind, one has to visit the annals of History.

Actually, the problem of religious accommodations gradually started in the beginning of the 1990s. At that time, an officer (who was of Sikh heritage) of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) wanted to wear his turban while being on duty and wearing the traditional red uniform. Obviously, Prime minister Brian Mulroney authorized this man of Sikh heritage to wear his turban in order to not to bend Canada's pathetic policy of multiculturalism.

Brian Mulroney. Prime minister of Canada from 1984 to 1993.

Brian Mulroney. Prime minister of Canada from 1984 to 1993.

As a matter of fact, despite the criticism that the Multiculturalism Act has drawn, many people - particularly members of the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) - talked about multiculturalism with a huge enthusiasm. In this political context, Canadians were actually not facing all the current problems caused by so much accommodations granted to ethnic minorities back then. In fact, while describing multiculturalism, former Prime minister Jean Chrétien once said in June 2000:

We have established a distinct Canadian Way, a distinct Canadian model: Accommodation of cultures. Recognition of diversity. A partnership between citizens and state. A balance that promotes individual freedom and economic prosperity while at the same time sharing risks and benefits.
Back in 1999, the Quebec's provincial government has also attempted to please religious minorities. At that time, Mario Dumont proposed a bill that will reform Quebec's educational program. In Quebec, students can have the choice to either attend a Catholic religious class or a "moral" class (i.e. "ethics" class for non-Catholics people).

Mario Dumont, the leader of the Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ)

Mario Dumont, the leader of the ADQ

The bill that was advocated by Mario Dumont and his party suggested that students can now have the choice to be offered a class that corresponds to their religious beliefs (Islam, Buddhism, etc.), besides having the regular classes (French, English, Math, etc.). Of course, according to that bill, a Muslim student from a public school can study Islam if there are enough Muslim students in that given school, for instance.

At that time, in 1999, the leader of the ADQ was firmly convinced that such a reform of Quebec elementary schools and High School establishments was a very nice way to respect people's "freedom of choice" through "reasonnable accommodations". However, these "reasonnable accommodations", added Mario Dumont, must respect "Quebec's common values".

Moreover, by going back into that political context, we can also learn that the ADQ didn't want the "full secularization" of Quebec's schools. Now, what made Mario Dumont be the first politician in Quebec to rationally denounce religious accommodations in 2006? The answer: three shocking events.

Before that, the Supreme Court declared so many times that the refusal to accommodate religious minorities was a disrespect to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms about two years ago.

While he used to advocate religious accommodations to minorities, Dumont turned his back to this liberal (and idiotic) vision. The first shocking event in question implied a group of Hasidic Jews who asked the director of a YMCA to install frosted windows in an exercice room. According to these Hasidic Jews from Montreal, that room was facing a religious school of their community and a Hasidic synagogue. Moreover, they said that "their teenaged boys were being distracted by the exposed flesh of women doing their Pilates, aerobics and other activities".

Secondly, another event shocked so many Quebeckers. In a CLSC, a kind of public health centre, it has been said that many men were told that they can't attend to their prenatal lessons. In fact, the nurses, who didn't bother to consult the Supreme Court, told these men that their very presence could shock Muslim, Sikh and Hindu women.

Thirdly, in Montreal (again!), female police officers who work in the sector of Outremont were told by their boss that while interpellating a Hasidic Jewish man, they must let their male colleague do the job. As strange as it might look, the Hasidic community didn't even ask for it.

To answer to the question, let it be said that the reason why Mario Dumont changed his mind is simple. Religious accommodations has become such a hot potato that many people (public servants in particular) didn't know how to fairly treat religious minorities, because the Supreme Court's judges didn't clearly define a "reasonable [religious] accommodation" (i.e. what can be done and what can't be done). These people were affraid to be wrongly branded as "racists".

In addition to that, some "reasonable [religious] accommodations" - that I previously described by using as examples the three events - were actually bending one cherished principle of Western democracies: the equality between men and women. Mario Dumont and the ADQ saw that by tolerating the claims of religious minorities, Quebec (and by extension Canada) was importing intolerance and incompatible political values that is not part of the Canadian political culture.

Even though his viewpoints were quickly altered, Mario Dumont saw that the state must not tolerate the fact that some people from religious minorities are disregarding our political values (such as the equality between men and women) in the name of "freedom of conscience and beliefs".

Finally, Jean Charest, the Premier of Quebec, can try to ridicule Mario Dumont as much as he wants. However, in 1999, Mario Dumont didn't anticipate the infringements (coming from certain people of religious minorities) to our political values because of the religious accommodations.

Unfortunately, Mario Dumont was unfairly compared to French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen. Mario Dumont doesn't hate immigrants. Besides he said many times that immigrants are "welcomed in Quebec" and that their duty is to accept the common values that unite people as citizens.

I really don't support any political parties in Canada. Nonetheless, if Lise Thériault, Quebec's Immigration minister, intends to draw a comparison between Mario Dumont and Jean-Marie Le Pen, what word should be used to describe Thériault. "Fool"? Well, Lise Thériault, Jean Charest and André Boisclair are certainly enjoying staying in their own ivory tower. As opposed to these politicians, Mario Dumont hopefully took the time to think about how to start this interesting debate on religious accommodations by brilliantly avoiding demagoguery and racism.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

La réciprocité interethnique

Voici le premier d’une série de quatre éditoriaux traitant de l’enquête menée par la firme de sondage Léger Marketing au sujet du « racisme » au Québec. Le 15 janvier, le Journal de Montréal révélait que « 59% des [Franco-Québécois] se disent racistes ». Ce sondage réalisé pour le compte de ce quotidien, de la chaîne de télévision TVA et la chaîne de radio 98,5 FM ne dit pas que les Franco-Québécois sont « racistes ». Au contraire, ceux-ci se perçoivent comme étant des « racistes ».

Si douteuse est la méthodologie de Léger Marketing. A-t-on défini le racisme? Aucunement. En maintenant que les Franco-Québécois se perçoivent comme des « racistes » à différents degrés, nous sous-entendons qu’un sentiment de supériorité raciale, ethnique ou culturelle par rapport aux ethnies minoritaires les anime.

Or, Jean-Marc Léger, le président de Léger Marketing, et son équipe auraient dû employer le terme « xénophobie ». Certes, nul ne peut nier qu’il y a du racisme au Québec. Toutefois, ce comportement demeure très marginal. En dépoussiérant la réalité correctement, nous pouvons conclure objectivement que plus de la moitié des Franco-Québécois se perçoivent comme étant des « xénophobes » à différents degrés.

Pour les amoureux finis des dictionnaires, sachez que la xénophobie est un sentiment « [d’hostilité] systématique [exprimé] à l’égard des étrangers [ou] de ce qui vient de l’étranger » (Le Petit Larousse Illustré, 2001).

Malgré les défauts du Québec, plus de la moitié des Franco-Québécois ont tendance à afficher un malaise causé par la présence des minorités ethniques. S’ajoute à cela un manque de compréhension interethnique. Cela ne veut pas dire que la majorité des Franco-Québécois se voient comme des êtres « supérieurs » ou « plus civilisés » que les minorités ethniques.

Chers curieux de tout poil, fouillez plutôt dans les annales de l’histoire de l’Afrique du Sud pour voir ce qu’est réellement le racisme…

Aussi bizarre que cela puisse paraître, 78% des Québécois issus des ethnies minoritaires affirment que leurs concitoyens de descendance « pure laine » sont accueillants. Toutefois, derrière le discours officiel, il y a la vérité…

Cette enquête bâclée passe à côté de la vraie question : la banalisation du nationalisme ethnique (toute allégeance politique confondue) au Canada chez bon nombre (ceci n’est pas une généralisation!) de francophones et anglophones (59% des Franco-Québécois estiment que « les immigrants » s’intègrent difficilement).

En effet, pour la majorité des Franco-Québécois, fréquenter des ethnies minoritaires est « enrichissant » et permet de « s’ouvrir aux autres cultures » (eh oui!). Des Franco-Québécois fréquentant mon collège soutiennent qu’ils sont « ouverts aux autres cultures ». En réalité, ces gens-là ne connaissent pas grand-chose de l’Histoire ou de la culture de l’Afrique, de l’Asie ou de la civilisation musulmane. Une belle curiosité, quoi! S’ouvrir à d’autres cultures est une chose. Tolérer les différences en est une autre.

Ce que j’ai essayé de dire dans les deux derniers paragraphes sur le nationalisme ethnique au Québec (et par extension le Canada), c’est que beaucoup de Franco-Québécois conçoivent d’une manière outrancière la société comme une exposition universelle. Dans une telle optique, chaque groupe ethnique correspondrait au kiosque d’un pays. Malheureusement, cette attitude laisse la place à deux turpitudes : 1) la xénophobie ou 2) l’incapacité de considérer les ethnies minoritaires comme des Canadiens (ou des Québécois).

Voici un message clair adressé à certains Franco-Québécois : des kiosques, il n’y en a pas! Est-ce si dur de considérer les ethnies minoritaires comme des Canadiens (ou des Québécois)? Qu’on le veuille ou non, nous formons un tissu social en vivant ensemble. Prochain éditorial : les ethnies minoritaires et le racisme.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Visible minorities and slow integration

When I bought yesterday’s edition of The Globe and Mail, I read a very interesting article of Marina Jiménez, the immigration reporter. In her article, she declares that visible minorities (and their children) “identify less and less with the country (Canada)”, according to a report made by Jeffrey Reitz, a University of Toronto sociologist, and Rupa Banerjee, a doctoral candidate. The question at the centre of that report was: “what it means to be Canadian – and specifically how that identity resonates with immigrants and their Canadian-born offspring.”

In this report made with the co-operation of 40,000 respondents, Reitz and Banerjee found that visible minorities who have difficulty to integrate into the Canadian society are mostly from China, South Asia and the Caribbean. Moreover, that report also said that in general, “visible-minority immigrants are slower to integrate into Canadian society than their white, European counterparts, and feel less Canadian”. If a nuance had to be brought, let it be said that “children (even those who are Canadian-born) of visible-minority immigrants exhibited a more profound sense of exclusion than their parents.”

What makes it so hard for “visible-minority immigrants” to integrate into our society and feel Canadians, eh? Well, here’s how, through her article, Marina Jiménez responded to that tough question in her article by using the conclusions of Jeffrey Reitz and Rupa Banerjee:

The sense of exclusion among visible-minority newcomers is not based on the fact that they earn less than their white counterparts. Instead, the researchers (Reitz and Banerjee) found integration is impeded by the perception of discrimination, and vulnerability – defined as feeling uncomfortable in social situations due to racial background and a fear of suffering a racial attack.

Notwithstanding the economic condition of Canadians from visible minorities, Jeffrey Reitz and Rupa Banerjee supported well their thesis by describing the attitudes and the behaviour adopted by “visible-minority newcomers”. However, in spite of the implicit historical analysis made by journalist Marina Jiménez, Reitz and Banerjee didn’t bother to delve correctly into the annals of our nation’s History, unfortunately.

Obviously, not all English or French Canadians are ethnic nationalists nowadays. Nonetheless, ethnic nationalism is a real serious problem that should be considered. In fact, if an historical analysis has been made in the report, we, as readers, could have established a link between the past and the present of Canada.

From the 19th century to the 1950s, most English and French Canadians wanted Canada to remain “only white”. For the English Canadians, in particular, the Asians, along with the Southern and Eastern Europeans (ex: Polish, Ukrainians, Italians, Russians) were seen as being “biologically impossible to assimilate”.

In fact, from the 19th century to the 1950s English Canadians, in particular, abhorred these people who were seen as being “biologically impossible to assimilate” because of their accent, their slow mastery of English, their “unpronounceable names” and their customs, which were described as being “at odds with the culture of the Anglo-Saxon civilization”.

Given the evolution of Canada since the 1950s (for the province of Quebec, it’s since the 1960s), English and French Canadians are hopefully no longer racists nowadays. Nevertheless, the attitude of their ancestors have deeply rooted into their collective mentality (I don’t mean to generalize, mind you) a definition of Canadian nationalism based on the colour of the skin and – sometimes – the spoken primary language (i.e. English or French). Besides, did you know that before 1962, the term used in History schoolbooks was “the two founding races”?

Well, the behaviour of the “visible-minority immigrants and their children” towards the Canadian society is the internal factor of complication. As for most English and French Canadians, their attitudes constitute the external factor that complicate the integration of visible minorities. Moreover, Jeffrey Reitz and Rupa Banerjee wrote that nowadays, white immigrants and their children are really less likely to feel insecure in the Canadian society.

Both sociologists of the University of Toronto displayed passion in their report. However, it does suffer from a strong weakness. In fact, it doesn't even reveal us that most Canadians of ethnic minorities tend to regard the Canadian identity as an ethnic identity that solely belongs to white English and French Canadians. Besides, all "visible-minority immigrants" (ex: Asians, Blacks) come from countries that are self-defined by ethnic nationalism. As a matter of fact, Reitz and Banerjee also found, in their studies, that most Canadians from visible minorities are: 1) less inclined to vote at election time and 2) to trust (and respect) fellow citizens. In the end, that shows us that the Canadian multicultural policy doesn't work at all, but unfortunately, most members of the Liberal Party of Canada are virtually too stupid to understand it. Finally, I'll take the time to answer to the question asked by The Globe and Mail.


Name: Anh Khoi Do, from Montreal
Age: 19
Occupation: College student
Where were you born? Montreal. My parents were born in Vietnam and arrived in Canada in 1979.
Do you self-identify as a Canadian? Absolutely. I consider myself as a real proud and committed Canadian. Although people tend to look at me like a foreigner, being a visible minority means nothing to me, because I never had the feeling to be a Vietnamese. I feel more Canadian than anyone else, because I integrated myself into the society by choice and I strongly condemn ethnic nationalism.
Have you experienced discrimination in the past five years? Indubitably. However, I care less and less about it. I suscribe to Eleanor Roosevelt's quote: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."





Do you identify yourself as a Canadian

Immigrant

Immigrants (%)

Second
generation (%)

Third
generation and
higher (%)

Recent*

Earlier**

Whites

21.9

53.8

78.2

63.4%

Total visible minorities

21.4

34.4

56.6


Chinese

30.6

42

59.5

South Asian

19.1

32.7

53.6

Black

13.9

27.2

49.6

Other visible minorities

17.4

32.8

60.6

*Arrived in Canada between 1991 and 2001
**Arrived in Canada before 1991

Source: Jeffrey Reitz and Rupa Banerjee (2006)
Bernard Bennell/The Globe and Mail



Have you ever experienced discrimination in the past 5 years?

Immigrant

Immigrants (%)

Second
generation (%)

Third
generation and
higher (%)

Recent*

Earlier**


Whites

19.2

10.2

10.9

9.9%

Total visible minorities

33.6

35.5

42.2


Chinese

35.4

30.9

34.5

South Asian


28.2

34.1

43.4

Black

44.8

47.7

60.9

Other visible minorities

32.5

34.8

36.2

*Arrived in Canada between 1991 and 2001
**Arrived in Canada before 1991

Source: Jeffrey Reitz and Rupa Banerjee (2006)
Bernard Bennell/The Globe and Mail


Bibliography:
JIMÉNEZ, Marina. “Visible-minority immigrants and their children identify less and less with the country, report says - How Canadian are you?”, The Globe and Mail, Toronto, January 12, 2007, p. A1


Id., “Investigating what it means to be Canadian - How does multiculturalism translate for minorities?”, The Globe and Mail, Toronto, January 12, 2007, p. A5

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Forget Justin Trudeau!

Since two days, we’ve been hearing many rumours saying that Justin Trudeau, the son of the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau, is willing to begin a career in politics. Moreover, in Quebec, many media outlets are still upholding that he’s interested to be a candidate of the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) in the “safe” Montrealer riding of Outremont. No matter what we say, Trudeau will probably not take this riding held by the out-going liberal MP Jean Lapierre.

Trudeau, and with reason, doesn’t have his place in politics. Simply put, the son of former (and forgettable) Prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau looks more flamboyant and charismatic than Stéphane Dion. Nevertheless, does charisma put you above the average of intelligence? In the case of Justin Trudeau, asking the question is like answering to it. I don’t admire Stéphane Dion, but let it be said that flamboyancy and charisma doesn’t make Trudeau smarter than the current leader of the LPC.

As a scholar and then a minister in two cabinets, Stéphane Dion proved us that he’s gifted in the art of questioning certain things taken by people as sacred cows. Will a highly opinionated person ever say that about Justin Trudeau? Definitely not. This former High School teacher in British-Columbia never proved to Canadians that he’s got fresh ideas for the 21th century.

In fact, in an interview that he once gave to radio host Christiane Charrette, Justin Trudeau declared that his father transmitted to him an “all made up” set of values. Unfortunately, what really tarnish the image of Justin Trudeau is rather the fact that he accepted his father’s back-warded ideas from the 20th century without ever questioning them.

I’ve travelled so much in every corners of the planet, I (Justin Trudeau) know Canada, I have things to say and I have deep values to share given by my father (Pierre Elliott Trudeau). It took a whole lifetime for my father to develop these values, but as for us (Justin Trudeau and his brother Alexandre), he just gave to us these values that were all made up.

Besides, you don’t need to read Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s biography to know that he’s the politician who harmed Canada the most with his political heritage. After all, how can you say that the Multiculturalism Act and our lame healthcare system (that creates economic deficits because of the impossibility to make the public and private sectors co-exist together) benefit to Canada, eh?

Obviously, these things show us that what really annoy people is not the fact that Justin Trudeau doesn’t know anything about politics. It’s rather the fact that he’s just trying to, in a manner of speaking, wear the shoes of his – and you clearly heard me! – stupid father. Justin Trudeau doesn’t understand that he has to find a way to dissociate himself from his father’s political image. I really doubt that the leader of the LPC Stéphane Dion would like to take ideas that are “all made up” to rebuild his party…

Unfortunately, the problem with most of the LPC’s members is rather the fact that they’re all oriented in the not so glorious past of their party (i.e. multiculturalism, a state monopoly on healthcare, useless economic intervention here and there). Most of them really think like Pierre Elliott Trudeau if you know what I mean.

I really doubt that the LPC, a party that I profoundly hate for a (or many) reason(s) that you already know, doesn’t need another flamboyant and flashy microphone to carry political values that Canada doesn’t need in this century. If Justin Trudeau is just interested to go in politics with the LPC in order to act like a recycle bin that is easy to get filled up and to parade with his last name, he should probably think about something else…

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Liberals and ethnic minorities

By making a historical analysis, one might come to the odd conclusion that there's probably an invisible link between the Liberals' extremely racist past and their attitude towards New Canadians in the current national political context.

On the 6th of January 2007, Wadjid Khan, who was an MP for the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC), crossed the floor and then became a trooper for the Conservative Party led by Stephen Harper. Since that very moment, the Tories, after the appointment of Jason Kenney at the useless Ministry of Multiculturalism, are now hoping to break the LPC's virtual and artificial monopoly on the New Canadians' votes.

A Canadian head tax certificate

Many people tend to forget that the LPC was once a political party with a far-right orientation despite its evolution. Evidently, in 1885, the Conservatives were the first to promulgate a racist bill that took the form of a $50 head tax on each Chinese immigrant who comes to Canada. Nonetheless, the Liberals, with the blind approval of their federal counterparts, were the major builders of what we can euphemistically call the "Golden Age of Canadian Racism".

The time of racism

In 1903, Prime minister Wilfrid Laurier will ultimately increase the Chinese Head Tax to $500 (the equivalent of two years of wages). Until 1923, this head tax idiotically made Canada amass a sum of $23 million, according to the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC). From this day to the 1950s, most Canadian politicians wanted Canada to remain racially white and culturally British. In their opinion, Asians, along with the Eastern and Southern Europeans, were “biologically impossible to assimilate”.

Mackenzie King

The CCNC also indicates that the Canadian Parliament led by the liberal government of Mackenzie King, on the 1st of July 1923, will succeed into approving the Chinese Immigration Act that consisted into radically restricting the rights of Chinese people to come to Canada. Besides, King didn't allow German Jewish refugees to immigrate in Canada. Obviously, he will also order the internment of Canadians of Japanese and Italian heritage after the bombing of Pearl Harbor even though a report from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) clearly said that these people were law-abiding. Furthermore, the possessions and properties of Canadians of Japanese and Italian heritage will be sod at a public auction.

Ideological liberalization

Since China fought with the Allies, the Chinese Immigration Act will be repealed on the 14th of May 1947 and that will allow Canadians of Chinese and Asian heritage to vote. The next year, people of Japanese heritage will receive the right to vote. Besides, with Prime minister Lester B. Pearson, the ethnic identity ceased to be a criteria in the immigration laws in 1967. In 1988, conservative Prime minister Brian Mulroney admitted the past mistakes of Canada to people of Japanese and Italian heritage without using the word "apologies" in a press communiquées.

Before the previous election, Paul Martin, the leader of the LPC back then, "issued a personal apology a personal apology on a Fairchild Chinese-language radio program[,] but Martin has said nothing to indicate his government would formally apologize for the head tax". The Chinese community of Canada wanted to have a formal apology made in the House of Commons, but after the election, Paul Martin and the Liberals will make a "historical dumping" on Stephen Harper.

Ethnic labelling

In the old days, the Liberals were a bunch of racists who resented most New Canadians. Since a few years, the Liberals preferred to gently see their favourite customers as "ethnic minorities". Despite the evacuation of racism from the LPC's philosophy, the actual Liberals have one link in common with their predecessors: their incapacity to display inclusive feelings towards New Canadians because of the influence of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the defender of multiculturalism. No wonder why the Liberals have always gratuitously branded those (just like me) who politely advocate a bicultural Canadian melting pot as "racists".

Unfortunately, by diplomatically magnifying the ethnic differences, the Liberals almost complicate the integration of New Canadians into our society. These people, by seeing themselves (and by being seen) as "ethnic minorities" in a "cultural mosaic", will idiotically come to regard the Canadian identity as an ethnic identity.

Even though they're not racists, the Liberals, who always curry ethnic minorities, unconciously (and in a very insidious way) ask New Canadians to happily feel like strangers in Canada. Moreover, many Canadian politicians don't realize that by currying ethnic minorities in this way, they're turning their back on a very condemnable attitude from the ethic minorities in general: the trivialization of ethnic nationalism.

Not only do most ethnic minorities don't feel Canadians (because of the Liberals), but they also think that it's okay to advocate ethnic nationalism. The Liberals' racist past made them look like politicians who are affraid to uphold, with inclusive purposes, that ethnic minorities are Canadians. Instead, the Liberals prefer to uphold that ethnic minorities form many components of a "cultural mosaic"...

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The roots of the Iraqi malaise

December 30, 2006: Saddam Hussein’s execution was seen as a collective vengeance for the Shiites. Despite the weird wishes made by Western politicians, Iraq’s real problem still lies on its territory. Obviously, the fault lines between the Shiites and the Sunnis are deeply rooted into History.

Before this antagonism appeared, the former Mesopotamia that contains the Tigris and the Euphrates (actually Iraq) was under the Ottoman rule since the 16th century. Three centuries later, this region will be divided in three vilayets (provinces) around Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. When the Turkish ruled Iraq, a fair playing field was provided to Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds in the economy, the military ranks and the provincial bureaucracies.

However, in the bloody turmoil of “the war to end all wars”, the British will strive to repel the Turkish out of Iraq between 1914 and 1918. These acts of war from the British were meant to make sure that other European superpowers didn’t cultivate their lust for oil because of the improvement of engines back then. In 1919, Great Britain went on to receive a mandate of tutelage from the League of Nations, the ancestor of the United Nations, on Iraq.

Two visions of tutelage were proposed. The “Anglo-Indians”, who believed in the “superiority of the white people”, thought that the “indigenous people” (i.e. Iraqis) must remain under a total colonial guardianship. On the other hand, the “Anglo-Egyptians” wanted Great Britain to control most of the Eastern Arabic countries (including Egypt and some parts of Libya) with flexible and indirect management methods accompanied by the quick establishment of local governments.

The British Ministry of Colonies preferred the “Anglo-Egyptians”, but there was one problem: it was the “Anglo-Indians” who fought against the Turkish in Iraq. In fact, these people, besides staunchly refusing to leave Iraq to their counterparts, were facing an enormous difficulty to control it because of the upheavals.

Winston Churchill, the Minister of Colonies, will confer Iraq to the “Anglo-Egyptian” team in 1921. Obviously, the opposition to the British domination will draw gradually, albeit slowly, the fault lines between the Shiites and the Sunnis. All in all, the “Anglo-Egyptians” will show another facet of their colonial program: they wanted to create local governments (fully controlled by Iraqis), but the latter was controlled like puppets.

The military Arabic Sunni officers were mostly inspired by a secular pan-Arabic nationalism. Moreover, they were profoundly influenced by the experience of the Young Turks and the Kemalists. Their objective was also to transform Iraq into a strong and centralized country that will be the primary tool of the global unification of all the Arabic countries. Nevertheless, between 1922 and 1924, the Shiites will be cut by the Sunnis from the political ranks (and eliminated) with the blind approval of the British. However, at certain conditions, the Sunnis could accept Shiites only if these people endorsed the political program aiming to unite all Arabic countries.

As for the Shiites, their claims were centred on religious beliefs. In fact, they envisioned Iraq as a totally independent country constitutionally governed by Islamic laws. Obviously, the origin of such claims can be found in a 19th century political tradition related to different forms of Muslim reformist thoughts. That tradition also encompasses liberal parliamentary principles.

In 1932, Iraq became relatively independent and also a member of the League of Nations. The Shiites will tend to perceive the Iraqi state as their enemy, because they didn’t have the right to have their voice in politics. In 1941, a Sunni military and political coalition will be at the helm of Iraq and it was willing to rid their country from the British control. Besides, the Iraqi Sunni nationalists were allied with the Nazi Germany. Evidently, Great Britain will occupy Iraq by the use of strength.

The previously mentioned intervention helped the Iraqi monarchy (which was dependent to the British) to seize the power. Afterwards, when a coup d’État occurred on the 14th of July 1958, the general Abdel Karim Kassem proclaimed the republic of Iraq. Five years later, the members of the Baas party will kill Kassem and replace him by Abdel Salam Aref. However, the Baas party will get its place in Iraq with a new coup d’État on the 17th of July 1968. Eventually Saddam Hussein will lead this republic. Moreover, the massacre of 148 Shiites in the city of Dujail in 1982 will enlarge the chasm between them and the Sunnis.

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