With lives at stake, Canada’s misguided vision of China demands a careful reboot: David Mulroney

Another good column by Mulroney. His reference to the naiveté of diaspora politics, highlighted, particularly relevant given recent instances of Chinese government activity in Canada (e.g., Student groups call for Ottawa to investigate alleged interference by Chinese officials on Canadian campuses):

Canada’s primary foreign-policy challenge with China has been clear for months now. We have to secure the freedom of detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and save the lives of fellow Canadians Robert Schellenberg and Fan Wei, who face death sentences from a murky Chinese legal system that takes instruction from the Chinese state. Our message to allies is clear, too: we all have a stake in pushing back against a China that uses hostage diplomacy, economic blackmail and even the threat of execution to achieve its objectives.

But there’s another equally challenging China task on the horizon. We need to start thinking about what we’ve learned from this terrible episode, and how it should shape our future relationship with China.

We’re not very good at this. The natural inclination of every bureaucracy in times of crisis is to restore the status quo ante. This happens for a variety of reasons, among them the fact that reviving an old strategy is a lot easier than thinking up a new one. But we’re also still in the grips of a misguided vision of China, one especially dear to the Canadian governing and business classes, that naively embraces almost everything that Beijing has on offer.

The current government refers to this as “comprehensive engagement,” something former ambassador John McCallum rendered more descriptively for Chinese audiences with the phrase geng duo, meaning “even more.” Just about any idea was worth considering, was the implication – as long as it lived up to our Olympian ambitions.

Few former diplomats, including this one, can claim to have entirely resisted the geng duo impulse to substitute promotion for policy. But given the undeniable evidence of China’s hostility to core Canadian interests, starting with the safety of our citizens, we urgently need to reconsider our approach.

There is no shutting the door to China, which is increasingly central to our prosperity and to solving threats to the environment, global health and food safety. But we will have to be much more thoughtful about how we do this, moving from comprehensive engagement to something smarter and more tailored to our objectives and vulnerabilities.

The days of indiscriminately encouraging China-bound travel and pumping Canadian delegations into China, a state that capriciously detains foreigners, are over. We should start by skipping events dedicated to China’s boundless appetite for international self-promotion or the delusion that China is a democracy in the making.

We also need to think carefully about trade and investment promotion, particularly in sectors like canola, where China’s immense demand gives it leverage over us. We need to work even harder at finding new markets, and doing more processing here in Canada to add value to what we sell. China seems to find economic blackmail easiest with commodities.

It’s also time to re-examine the received wisdom that shapes our China strategy, purging it of a sort of malware encouraged by China to delude the naive. This includes such fictions as the idea that China is inherently peaceful and has no territorial ambitions, that it abides by a policy of non-interference in other countries, that trade is a favour it bestows on friendly nations, and that access to its leaders is an end and reward in itself.

The idea that our China policy tends to be highly corrupted by these falsehoods is proven by our enduring gullibility on two important counts. The first is the idea that Canadians of Chinese origin are something of a shared bilateral resource, and that members of this community have a responsibility to help their fellow citizens better understand China. This fits hand-in-glove with the Canadian penchant for diaspora politics, and opens the door to Chinese interference.

The second powerful myth is that China is so uniquely sensitive that, no matter what it does, any response other than abject silence is hurtful and dangerously counterproductive. This has contributed to persistent Canadian passivity in the face of outrageous behaviour.

Getting China right will be particularly difficult for a Liberal government that has, to put it charitably, struggled with foreign policy. The government approaches the world beyond our borders with the inexplicable conviction that other countries are either as progressive as Liberal voters or aspire to be. This is wrong, and dangerously so.

We simply can’t postpone a rethink of our approach to China, and we must finally be open to the idea that, when it comes to engaging Beijing, smarter is better than comprehensive – and less is almost certainly better than more.

Source: With lives at stake, Canada’s misguided vision of China demands a careful reboot David Mulroney May 1, 2019     

It’s the Atwal effect — and nobody’s immune: Terry Milewski

Good reminder that all parties are playing this game:

The tsunami is spreading far from the epicentre of the Jaspal Atwal earthquake. And it doesn’t discriminate between political parties.

The Liberals, of course, have been the ones swept farthest out to sea. A week after Atwal — a former wannabe hitman for the Sikh separatist cause — was summoned to dine with Justin Trudeau in India, the prime minister and his national security adviser were neck-deep and clinging to a conspiracy theory.

It was an Indian plot, they said, meant to make us look soft on separatism. So far, the theory isn’t selling well.

But are the Conservatives and the NDP still high and dry? Not exactly. Take the case of the Conservatives first.

The motion that did not move

Hoping to paint the Liberals as soft on terror, the Tories drafted a parliamentary motion this week that states that the party “values the contributions of Canadian Sikhs” but condemns “all forms of terrorism, including Khalistani extremism and the glorification of any individuals who have committed acts of violence.”

It was a trap, of course. Had the Liberals voted yes to the motion, they would have been repudiating some of their Khalistani allies. If they’d voted no, they’d have been caught in bed with them.

The word “glorification,” of course, takes aim at a painful topic for families of the victims of the Air India Flight 182 bombing: the re-branding of the man who planned the terrorist act as a saintly hero.

Parmar poster

A martyr poster of Air India bombing architect Talwinder Singh Parmar is seen fixed to the exterior of the Dashmesh Darbar Temple in Surrey, B.C. on Oct. 3, 2017. (CBC)

He is Canada’s deadliest mass-murderer by far: Talwinder Singh Parmar, the architect of the 1985 bombing, whose portrait adorns Sikh temples in Surrey, B.C. and Malton, Ont. Children are being taught that the man who blew 329 innocents out of the sky was a model citizen and a persecuted martyr. (Parmar’s role in planning the attack, which was accepted as fact by both the Air India inquiry and the judicial inquiry, was confirmed by the testimony of the man, who admitted to making the bomb.)

So the Conservative motion had a sharp point on it. But there was a problem: as soon as they got wind of it, the separatist lobby, led by the World Sikh Organization, peppered Ottawa with complaints that this was an attack on all Sikhs, not just the violent ones.

A flurry of text messages went out. “They are targe[t]ing the Sikh community and tarnishing us as extremists,” one of the messages said. “Canadians are starting to see us as terrorists when we are not … Everyone please leave voicemails at the offices of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer … Please communicate to them that if the Conservatives carry through and bring this motion forward then we will not welcome them in our Gurdwaras and we will absolutely not support them in the future.”

It was a familiar tactic: claiming that a critique of extremists is an assault on all Sikhs. But by morning, the blitz of messages seemed to have worked — or so the World Sikh Organization claimed.

So, the Conservatives reconsidered — and not for the first time.

​The veneration of Talwinder Parmar became an issue in 2007 at the annual Vaisakhi parade run by the Dashmesh Darbar temple in Surrey, B.C. Then-prime minister Stephen Harper sent two MPs on his behalf: Jim Abbott and Nina Grewal. The Liberals sent Sukh Dhaliwal — an MP again today — and the NDP sent then-MP Penny Priddy.

Along with then-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell, they all took the stage alongside Parmar’s son and such other separatist luminaries as Satinderpal Gill of the banned International Sikh Youth Federation. The politicians all smiled and waved as the floats rolled by with tinselled portraits honouring Parmar and other martyrs.

Afterwards, all of them insisted it was no big deal — although Campbell changed his mind the next day and said he would not have attended if he’d known about the martyr posters.

Abbott also changed his mind — in the other direction. First, he said he was “flabbergasted” to realize that the Air India bomber was being lionized in this way. But after consulting with the Conservative Party, he reversed himself and praised the parade unreservedly.

In later years, the temple management responded by fixing a large portrait of Parmar to the outside wall.

India Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, centre, and Punjab state Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, right, gesture along with an unidentified person at the Golden Temple, the Sikhs’ holiest site, in Amritsar, India, in November, 2009. (Prabhjot Gill/The Associated Press)

Still, there was not a word about it from Stephen Harper — who, like Justin Trudeau, endured his share of lectures on this topic from his Indian counterparts.

Like Trudeau, Harper emphasized that separatists have freedom of speech in Canada. Neither Harper nor Trudeau thought to mention that Canadian politicians also have freedom of speech — and have rarely used it to denounce the celebration of Parmar.

Or so it was until — oddly enough — the very day the Jaspal Atwal story broke.

The news we all forgot

Nobody remembers it now, but moments before the Atwal wave crashed into his Indian tour last week, Prime Minister Trudeau made some news of his own. In fact, it might have been the story of the day — on any other day.

Trudeau was facing constant demands to clearly repudiate Sikh extremists back home. Pressed in New Delhi by the CBC’s David Cochrane, Trudeau at first ducked a question about the Parmar “martyr” posters. He merely condemned violence and extremism in general.

So Cochrane asked him again: What about those Parmar posters? This time, Trudeau said what so many Canadian politicians have refused to say: “I do not think we should ever be glorifying mass-murderers, and I’m happy to condemn that.”

That was a first. No Canadian leader had said it before. Every Vaisakhi parade, after all, is a vote-rich environment. Condemning violence in broad terms is easy. Condemning voters who revere a specific martyr is harder.

Too hard, apparently, for a politician who has long identified with Sikh grievances against the Indian government. That would be Canada’s first Sikh party leader, Jagmeet Singh, who was asked the same question about the Parmar posters after winning the leadership of the NDP last fall.

In an interview on CBC’s Power and Politics, Singh repeatedly declined to say whether the Parmar posters were appropriate. The following week, when asked again if they should be taken down, he ducked the question (again), saying, “I’m not here to tell what a community should or shouldn’t do.”

via It’s the Atwal effect — and nobody’s immune – Politics – CBC News

How the Liberals’ alleged support of Sikh separatists is fuelling Canada-India tensions

More diaspora politics and the impact on foreign policies.

All political parties court the Sikh Canadian vote given their concentration in a number of ridings (Surrey, Brampton) and their political activism:

When Prime Minister Trudeau headed to the stage at the Sikh-Canadian community’s annual Khalsa Day celebration last month, he was thronged by a cheering, photo-seeking crowd.

It was little surprise, given the Liberal leader is not only a staunch supporter of multiculturalism but also has four MPs of Sikh origin in his cabinet.

Thousands of kilometres away in New Delhi, however, Trudeau’s appearance struck a decidedly more sour note.

The appearance was the latest irritation for an Indian government reportedly worried that the Liberals are too cozy with a peaceful but “growing” Sikh-separatist movement in Canada.

It came three weeks after the Ontario legislature passed a private-member’s motion — introduced by a Liberal MPP — that called the 1984 Sikh massacre in India an act of genocide, a politically explosive label.

India’s Foreign Ministry has issued separate protests to the Trudeau government about each episode, as the Liberals’ traditional politicking among a vote-rich community, combined with the sub-continent’s fraught history, throws a wrench into the two countries’ burgeoning friendship.

“All of those things add up (and) present a picture that isn’t particularly pretty when India is looking at it,” said Anirudh Bhattacharya, Canadian correspondent for the Hindustan Times newspaper. “There was always a concern (in New Delhi) that this particular government would be somewhat beholden to the gatekeepers to the Sikh community, to some of the more radical groups.”

Tossed into the mix have been unsubstantiated allegations by Amarinder Singh, Punjab state’s newly elected “chief minister,” that Trudeau’s Sikh ministers are themselves separatists; and a thwarted terrorist cell in Punjab with alleged Canadian links.

Indian media reports suggest New Delhi was livid about Trudeau’s appearance at the Khalsa Day event April 30, though the public language was more circumspect. “We have taken it up with Canada in the past and the practice has not been discontinued,” said Vishwa Nath Goel of India’s high commission in Ottawa.

Balraj Deol

Balraj DeolFloat in Khalsa Day parade touting Ontario legislative motion on 1984 Sikh “genocide”

Quoting a Foreign Ministry statement, he was more blunt about the Ontario legislature’s Sikh genocide resolution on April 6.

“We reject this misguided motion which is based on a limited understanding of India, its constitution, society, ethos, rule of law and the judicial process,” said Goel.

But a spokesman for the group that organized the event Trudeau attended — and which backs the Ontario motion — said it’s only natural for the prime minister to appear at such functions, regardless of the religion.

Source: How the Liberals’ alleged support of Sikh separatists is fuelling Canada-India tensions | National Post

Does Australia’s values test have a future in Canada? Konrad Yakabuski

Yakabuski asks the valid question: could Australian dog whistle politics happen here?

To a certain extent, they already have: the use of the niqab and “barbaric cultural practices” tip line in the 2015 election, the Kellie Leitch and Steven Blaney leadership campaigns. As he notes, survey questions highlight an underlying concern about immigrant values.

That being said, while we naturally enough see the similarities with Australia – immigration-based countries, large number of foreign-born voters, considerable diversity – we often fail to see some of the differences:

  • Indigenous/white settler dichotomy in contrast to the more complex Canadian Indigenous/French settler/British settler background and a history, albeit highly imperfect, of accommodation and compromise;
  • a political system that provides greater opening for far right extremist voices;
  • a political system that results in fewer visible minorities being elected than in Canada; and,
  • a generally harsher political culture.

So while we always have to guard against complacency, we also need to keep in mind that national elections are largely fought in the 905 and BC’s Lower Mainland, where new Canadian voters, mainly visible minority, form the majority or significant plurality of voters.

The Liberal success in these ridings (they won 30 out of the 33 ridings where visible minorities are the majority) suggest that values or identity-based wedge politics are a losing, not winning, strategy:

When Malcolm Turnbull staged an internal Liberal coup to replace an unpopular Tony Abbott as party leader and Australia’s prime minister in 2015, it was hailed as victory of the moderns and moderates over the ultraconservative ideologues and their nasty dog-whistling strategists.

Guess who’s blowing dog whistles now?

The plan Mr. Turnbull unveiled last month to screen immigrants for Australian values (sound familiar?) and make it harder to obtain Australian citizenship represents a crass U-turn for a Prime Minister who only a few years ago attacked a then-Labor government for seeking to cut the number of temporary foreign workers entering the country. “If you support skilled migration and a diverse society, you don’t ramp up the chauvinistic rhetoric,” he tweeted in 2013.

Now, it is Mr. Turnbull’s turn to target the so-called 457 visa, replacing it with a program that puts new restrictions on foreign workers. The Prime Minister says the immigration changes are all about “putting Australians first.” But they are really about exploiting largely, but not exclusively, working-class resentment toward visible minorities, especially if they’re Muslims.

“If we believe that respect for women and children and saying no to violence … is an Australian value, and it is, then why should that not be made a key part, a very fundamental part, a very prominent part, of our process to be an Australian citizen?” Mr. Turnbull asked last month.

Well, for starters, because it demonstrates an astonishing degree of contempt for the very values that liberal democracies such as Australia purport to champion.

Is it really necessary to ask immigrants “under which circumstances is it permissible to cut female genitals” to convey the unacceptability of excision, which is already illegal? You can only answer yes if the real objective of such a measure is to pander to a substantial, but misguided, group of voters who seeks to alleviate their own insecurities by humiliating others.

You’d almost think this cockeyed plan was something cooked up by Sir Lynton Crosby, the Australian political strategist who may or may not have been behind the 2015 election promise by former prime minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to set up a “barbaric cultural practices” hotline. But Sir Lynton – the knighthood was bestowed by former British prime minister David Cameron after the so-called Wizard of Oz helped him win the 2015 British election – is currently too busy exercising the political dark arts in aid of Tory PM Theresa May’s election bid.

Sir Lynton’s business partner, Mark Textor, however, happens to be Mr. Turnbull’s chief pollster. And what the polls are telling Mr. Turnbull is that white, working-class voters in Australia are increasingly turning sour on immigration. This is something of a paradox in a country in which 28 per cent of the population is foreign-born, compared with about 21 per cent in Canada, and that has long been held up as a model multicultural society.

The truth is that both the Liberals (who are actually conservatives) and the Labor Party now only pay lip service to multiculturalism. Both are seeking to scratch an itch among white working- and middle-class voters. Labor recently ran an ad in Queensland promising to “build Australia first, buy Australian first and employ Australians first.” All of the dozen or so workers in the ad were white.

Support for the current policy of turning back boats of asylum seekers, or detaining them on islands off the Australian coast, remains strong, even among Labor voters. Hence, the dilemma for Labor Leader Bill Shorten, trapped between his party’s white working-class base and the urban progressives and immigrant voters Labor needs to win elections.

Mr. Turnbull, meanwhile, is looking over his shoulder at a renewed threat from the far-right One Nation party and Mr. Abbott, who appears to be angling for his old job. He just gave a speech denouncing the “cultural cowardice” of the elites, including the folks at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and their “pervasive ambivalence verging on hostility to our country and its values.”

Does Australia represent the ghost of Canadian politics yet to come? Polls show Canadians from across the political spectrum really like Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch’s idea of screening immigrants for Canadian values. She’s sticking to her guns, no matter how many old Red Tory friends she loses.

Hey, if Australia can go that low, why can’t we?

Source: Does Australia’s values test have a future in Canada? – The Globe and Mail

Why Ontario should steer clear of East Asia’s identity politics

Diaspora politics in action.

While I would disagree that Japan has come to terms with its wartime atrocities (sharp contrast to Germany), Welch’s concern regarding the divisiveness of this proposal is valid (just as the Canadian Vietnamese community was split over Bill S-219 – Backward Bill Passed, but Vietnamese-Canadians Move Forward – New Canadian Media):

In recent years, China has fanned the flames of anti-Japanese sentiment, partly for instrumental reasons (an external enemy enhances national cohesion and regime legitimacy), and partly because many Chinese honestly believe that Japan is nostalgic for its imperial, militarist past, and continues to pose a latent threat to the mainland. It is hardly surprising that they do. Their government keeps telling them so. Chinese citizens are fed a steady diet of anti-Japanese propaganda in the press and in the form of late-night television dramas depicting the heroic struggle of Chinese soldiers against barbaric wartime Japanese invaders. The Nanjing Massacre figures heavily in these anti-Japanese narratives.

In fact, the government of Japan has long ago—and many times—acknowledged and repented of the country’s imperial sins. Only a handful of arch-nationalist cranks refuse to do so, and they speak only for themselves. Today, Japan is among the least militarist countries in the world. Most Japanese today see their own government as the primary source of their wartime suffering. Since 1945, Japan has been a responsible and constructive member of the international community.

One finds ample evidence of lack of empathy in Japan as well, where China’s anti-Japanese propaganda is seen as part of a larger geopolitical project to impose Beijing’s hegemony. With few exceptions, Japanese fail to appreciate the extent to which anti-Japanese sentiment in China can be attributed to a combination of ignorance and regime insecurity. But the Japanese government does not respond by demonizing China. Instead, it calls for greater cooperation and communication on issues of mutual interest, while hedging its bets through more-or-less-standard balance-of-power politics.

These two efforts to single out the Nanjing Massacre for commemoration effectively endorse and encourage Chinese misperceptions of Japan. They ask the people of Ontario and the people of Toronto to inflame and take sides in a dangerous clash of national egos. They work against, not for, stability in East Asia. This is not the Canadian way. Canadians are peacemakers and bridge-builders, not pawns in others’ domestic and geopolitical games.

At the same time, and at least as importantly, these two efforts threaten to undermine harmony here at home. More than 100,000 Ontarians have roots in Japan, and more than 700,000 have roots in China. Nothing good can come from fanning the flames ethnic hatred—except, perhaps, for cynical politicians who care only about the relative number of their constituents in their districts with Chinese or Japanese ancestry.

Finally, these measures are dangerous precedents. By taking sides in one case, Queen’s Park and Toronto City Council would effectively invite others to do the same. Ontario, in general, and Toronto, in particular, have more diverse populations than anywhere else in the world. There are not enough days in the calendar to commemorate every historical atrocity that drives an ethno-nationalist grievance.

Let us hope that our politicians see the wisdom of avoiding this particular minefield before the damage is done. No one could possibly object to commemorating the innocent victims of war; but if we are to do so, let us make the commemoration inclusive, in true Canadian fashion, rather than divisive.

Source: Why Ontario should steer clear of East Asia’s identity politics – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

Canada’s new foreign policy: the end of ‘ideological fantasies’ – Michael Bell

One of the better pieces on the impact on foreign policy of the change in government, but neglects to mention some of the diaspora politics pressure given the large number of visible minority MPs:

We are at the beginning of a new era in Canadian diplomacy with the election of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister. Our place in the international community is about to undergo a dramatic and positive change. The appointment of Stéphane Dion as the Minister of Foreign Affairs is a harbinger.

Although there will be many challenges, often insurmountable, and mistakes will inevitably be made, the new Prime Minister’s world view and his commitment to international norms could not be more different than that of his predecessor.

Stephen Harper, the world’s last neo-conservative leader, is no longer with us. His modus operandi in foreign affairs viewed the international community, most markedly characterized in his eyes by the United Nations, as a threat to his deeply held but exclusionist ideology. For him, the very concept of accommodation with others constituted moral relativism: a sellout.

The result: Canada was viewed abroad as an outlier, as a contrarian, as a force for disruption. Mr. Harper’s colleagues abroad found him most often difficult, if not impossible, to deal with. For the first time in our history, and to our great shame, Canada was voted down for a seat on the UN Security Council, so much had we lost the respect of others.

Life was miserable for Canadian diplomats at home and abroad, including those charged with UN affairs; we lost the chairmanship of UN committees traditionally ours for asking; we lost any role in its consultative processes. Mr. Harper and his long-time foreign minister, John Baird, snubbed the institution. Their political staffs: “The boys in short pants” were the enforcers.

With Mr. Trudeau’s election, those days are now past. For instance, after a single day in office, he called on Canadian ambassadors abroad to engage fully with the governments, civil society and media in their countries of accreditation.

In retrospect, it is astounding that the Canadian government’s aversion to evidence-based decision-making lasted as long as it did. It is astounding that diplomacy (most often a backstage craft) was confined to the dustbin. It was depressing that truth could never speak to power. It was intolerable that bureaucrats felt it necessary to ensure that analytical assessments were censored so that the ire of the man in power was not brought down on them.

With Mr. Harper’s electoral defeat, it now seems obvious that Canadians need engagement in a very complex world in which effective policies depend on a deep understanding of foreign cultures and reliable barometers of impending difficulties. We need more reliable eyes and ears out there, not fewer. My hunch is that Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Dion will give us just that.

…A self-confident, socially adept and thoughtful Prime Minister with a feel for issues and a commitment to socially enlightened change. An intelligent, erudite Foreign Minister with a compelling, Cartesian intellect.

What a change.

Source: Canada’s new foreign policy: the end of ‘ideological fantasies’ – The Globe and Mail

Away from spotlight of national Conservative campaign, Jason Kenney runs another

Interesting list of commitments (not in the party platform), reinforcing the link between domestic (diaspora) politics and foreign policy:

He’s [Kenney] been going non-stop since the campaign began, he said, because despite all the inroads the Conservatives have made, demographics and shifting immigration patterns provide new opportunities for outreach.

“We’re not going to retain every vote we have in the last election but I think we’re doing very well,” he said.

He’s doing more, however, than just showing up.

Kenney has made several campaign promises in recent weeks that appear nowhere in the official Conservative campaign platform.

To the Sri Lankans, Kenney promised a promise to expand Canada’s high commission to the city of Jaffna, a provincial capital in that country whose population is mostly Tamil. The Tamil diaspora in Canada is among the largest in the world.

To Iranians, Kenney promised to make it easier for them to access consular services from Ottawa, as opposed to having to travel to Washington, D.C. Canada expelled Iranian diplomats from Ottawa in 2012, leaving the Iranian diaspora without access to services like passports or other government documents.

To the Armenian community, a pledge to opening trade and consular office in Yerevan, the country’s capital.

Armenian Canadians should “return the favour to the Conservative party and its candidates by voting and helping party candidates,” the head of the Armenian Canadian Conservative Association reportedly said, according to a post about the announcement on the HyeForum, an Armenian community website.

While not speaking specifically about those promises, Kenney said the Conservatives have their eye on getting diaspora communities more involved in foreign policy.

“Think tanks, foreign policy commentators say that Canada’s diversity is in principle a great strength for foreign and economic ties around the world and we have never really done that in a systematic way,” he said.

“So we’ve been trying to develop ways to more formally engage the large diaspora communities who are new Canadians to deepen ties with countries of origin.”

The Conservatives have come under considerable fire, however, for how closely they appear to link foreign policy to diaspora politics.

Since 2006, under the Conservatives, 1.6 million people became Canadian citizens, Kenney pointed out.

“There are new communities that have developed in large part since our government came to office and so that’s an advantage we did not have in the past.”

Those Canadians are looking for change just like everyone else, said Liberal John McCallum, and they are not responding well to what he calls the Conservatives’ divisive — and often entirely misleading — approach.

A recent set of ads appearing in the Chinese and Punjabi press asked readers whether Trudeau’s values — described as being about putting brothels in communities, allowing marijuana to be sold in corner stores and allowing drug injection sites in local neighbourhoods — none of those things are in the Liberal platform, McCallum said.

“It’s wrong, on principle, and it’s a sign of desperation.”

Source: Away from spotlight of national Conservative campaign, Jason Kenney runs another | National Newswatch

Backward Bill Passed, but Vietnamese-Canadians Move Forward – New Canadian Media

The contrary view to the Government’s support for one section of the Vietnamese Canadian community, by Dai Trang Nguyen:

Bill S-219 does not add anything good to the community, and it will continue to divide it. How backward that the bill still has a we-were-victims mentality rather than focusing on moving forward. Furthermore, this bill is an obstacle for Canadians who work in sectors or are interested in promoting Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan, International Education Strategy, or aid effectiveness agenda in Vietnam.

Let’s put Bill S-219 in an international context. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the US normalized relations with Vietnam in 1995. In 2015, the US is ready to build a better relationship with the government of Vietnam. A recent US policy prohibits the flying of the old Saigon flag and singing the old national anthem on federal property.

To the opposite, Canada decided to be friendlier with the old Saigon group, at the risk of upsetting a partner of more than just trade, and the minister of defence has draped the old Saigon symbol around his shoulders at Vietnamese events.

April 30 as a dark day is the view of only a few thousand South Vietnamese who lost their power and privileges. On the other hand, April 30 is North-South reunification day for ordinary Vietnamese-Canadians, including many refugees who arrived in 1979-80 and over 100,000 economic immigrants who landed after 1981, who longed for peace and prosperity.

We agree that the experience of 60,000 boat people from Vietnam and the generosity of Canadian people in accepting them should be acknowledged as part of Canadian history. Refugees would want to remember the date when they are accepted and land in a safe place. The appropriate date of commemoration is July 27 when the first flight landed in Toronto in 1979, and the title should be along the line of an appreciation of Canada by Vietnamese refugees.

What would happen if fictitious governments that no longer exist–such as the old Saigon regime–continue to be recognized in Canadian legislation?

Canadians who are interested in freedom and democracy might want to take a look at our community. The few thousand South Vietnamese who fled in 1975 seek to impose their old Saigon political view on the refugees and immigrants who came later. All other voices are suppressed using threats of red-baiting. Members who are not outspoken about their anti-communist view or who have any contact with the government of Vietnam are singled out and labelled “communist.”

But because of Bill S-219, many members who have put up with this old group for so long, now for the first time in 40 years, have mobilized among themselves and become active in their political life.

On April 30, we will celebrate our own journey to freedom day as we understand it. We understand that even in a democratic country like Canada, the Senate can deny opposing views to be heard; that our community has been imposed a political view by a small group for 40 years.

But after 40 years, our journey has reached a critical point to achieve the freedom we look for. We will celebrate this day as the day when we feel free to have our own views, despite the Conservative government’s attempt to take the side of the old Saigon group with this vote-grabbing bill.

Backward Bill Passed, but Vietnamese-Canadians Move Forward – New Canadian Media.

Election Watch: Debunking the “Ethnic Vote” Strategy – New Canadian Media

While generally correct, this piece by Stephen E. White, Inder S. Marwah, and Phil Triadafilopoulos understates the degree of targeting – and micro-targeting – between and within ethnic communities. The current government’s approach, taking a more explicit side in any number of diaspora politics, is but one illustration:

New Canadians are no less savvy than the rest of the Canadian electorate. While it’s true that recent immigrants don’t have many years of experience with Canadian politics and elections, research also suggests they learn rather quickly.

There’s no reason, then, to think that parties’ targeted appeals to ethnic minority communities are any more effective than the strategies used to win the support of other kinds of voters.

Where does this leave us?  We can be sure the “ethnic vote” will figure prominently in political parties’ 2015-election campaigning. While the success of their efforts can in no way be assumed, the parties will undoubtedly compete for the support of new Canadians.

There’s no evidence that ethnic outreach actually works – but the parties believe it might, and this conviction shapes both electoral strategies and policy making.

Canadian political parties’ ongoing and ever more systematic efforts to compete for the votes of new Canadians helps explain why anti-immigrant discourse is so rare in Canadian elections and why Canadian parties, regardless of their ideological stripe, support robust immigration levels and the maintenance of an official multiculturalism policy.

Put differently, Canadian “exceptionalism” in the area of immigration politics and policy may have less to do with our innate civic virtues than with the strategic calculations of our political operators.

Election Watch: Debunking the “Ethnic Vote” Strategy – New Canadian Media.

Conservatives rally for communism memorial as Vietnamese Canadians mark Journey to Freedom Day

Making the politics involved even more transparent:

Canada’s minister of state for democratic reform told a crowd of Vietnamese Canadians gathered to commemorate the inaugural Journey to Freedom Day that opposition to the prominent downtown site planned for a memorial for the victims of communism was “shameful” and that the controversial monument will get built.

“It is shameful that the Liberals and the NDP have come out against building this monument at this site, and it is shameful that some in the media have done the same. This is a worthy project, it is the right thing to do, and under the strong leadership of Prime Minister Harper, we will build this monument,” Pierre Poilievre told more than 500 people at a rally on the downtown site chosen for the monument across from the Supreme Court and fronting onto Wellington Street.

Poilievre’s sentiments were echoed by Ludwik Klimkowski, board chair for Tribute to Liberty, the group fundraising to build the monument.

The monument’s prominent location has drawn criticism and opposition from the likes of Mayor Jim Watson, Ottawa architect Barry Padolsky, Shirley Greenberg, an architect who was on the jury that chose the winning design, and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

Conservatives rally for communism memorial as Vietnamese Canadians mark Journey to Freedom Day | National Post.