The Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism Asks Iranian-Canadians “Why Are You Here?” | Susan Khazaeli

While the commentary goes a bit too far in its arguments that this language creates two classes of citizens, subconsciously it may reflect this belief.

And people come to Canada for both economic objectives and living in a country that respects political and human rights:

A Conservative Toronto MP, Chungsen Leung, recently attended an event organized by the Association of North American Ethnic Journalists and Writers. During the meet-and-greet, Mr. Leung was asked about the increasing difficulties faced by Iranians attempting to obtain a Canadian Visa. Emotions apparently ran high. At one point, in a heated exchange, Mr. Leung asked a member of the audience, “If you like Iran so much then why do you come to Canada?”

He then demanded to know: “Why are you here?” Some audience members were so offended by his comments and his dismissive attitude — which one attendee characterized as “arrogant” — that they decided to leave the event.

Mr. Leung is also the Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism. It kind of sounds like a bad joke, doesn’t it?

According to a CTV report, Mr. Leung’s office claims that the exchange was a “miscommunication.” His email apology expressed regret for the misunderstanding. Perhaps Mr. Leung’s comments were off-the-cuff, but they were, by no means, innocuous.

Even if unintentional, Mr. Leung’s comments were discriminatory and hostile. The subtext of the messaging is: “Why don’t you go back where you came from?” They betray an underlying attitude that many non-white Canadians encounter when expressing views critical of government policy. This attitude becomes even more pronounced when that non-white Canadian comes from a country that, like Iran, is on the outs with Canada.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism Asks Iranian-Canadians “Why Are You Here?” | Susan Khazaeli.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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