Doing it right

This, a 2013 report from MacLean’s, reprinted from L’actualité  explains how Jason Kenney, in 2012, handled an incident that was analogous to the April 2017 Khalsa Day parade that Justin Trudeau attended:

Jason Kenney scans the dense crowd of roughly 20,000 Sikh Canadians in traditional dress and multicoloured turbans here to mark Vaisakhi—the annual celebration commemorating the foundation of this community originally from India’s northeast. Sitting cross-legged on the thin grey carpeting covering the enormous stage, the minister is inwardly cringing … [because] … He doesn’t like what he sees. In front of him, a dozen yellow and blue Khalistan flags are splitting the crowd near the podium, held by men fighting the hot early May sun in T-shirts. The man at the mic, speaking Punjabi, suddenly speeds up and radicalizes his tone. Capture22-615x320He speaks of genocide, of violent clashes and of the independence of Khalistan—a country that a faction of Sikh nationalists would like to carve from India. It’s too much. Kenney, who’s picked up some Punjabi since becoming minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism in 2008, stands mid-sentence, crosses the room and exits as three baffled Conservative MPs look on, unsure whether or not they should follow … [then] … At the bottom of the steps, Kenney puts his shoes back on and raises his hand as if to rip off the orange bandana that all visitors wear inside Rexdale’s Sikh Spiritual Centre. He takes a deep breath, and restrains himself. A Sikh organizer approaches, looking contrite. “You are trying to exploit my presence here,” Kenney shouts, his stare fixed on the man in a white turban. “This is not a civilized way to behave. I warned you, and you did it anyway. I am aware that you would like to entertain the Prime Minister next year. You can forget it. He won’t be coming.” The minister makes his way to the exit, the Sikh organizer fast on his heels, apologizing profusely … [later] … At the entrance, several long minutes pass before the minister’s driver pulls up in his black Nissan SUV. As we sit down, Kenney turns to me. “I am so sorry,” he says in French … [then] … He finally pulls off his bandana and explains that Sikh nationalists are now waging their war in Canada. They hope to convince the roughly 450,000 Canadians of Sikh origin, the majority of whom live in the suburbs of Toronto and Vancouver, to put pressure on their families still in India, but also on the Canadian government, to support their demands. They want Ottawa to recognize a genocide in which Sikhs were victims, in 1984 in India … [and, he continues] … “It was an extremist speech,” he says. “I had to leave the room, otherwise the community would think I endorse such a campaign. Certain groups have sometimes tried to wield my prominence to advance their cause. I have to be vigilant at all times. They shouldn’t be encouraged to reproduce, in Canada, the tensions of their homelands.” It’s a message he reiterates to new immigrants from China and Tibet, Greece and Turkey, Israel and Iran.

C-r_pK7UQAAkiHIJason Kenney, in 2012, was doing exactly what Justin Trudeau was in 2017: shilling for the Indo-Canadian vote. He was a senior minister in the Harper government, not the prime minister, but an important figure none the less. There the similarities end: Kenney was a functioning adult who understood that his duty, as a minister, was more important than winning a seat here or there; Trudeau did not, essentially, I suspect, because he doesn’t understand his duties as being anything other than a photo-prop: a pleasant young man with with a beautiful family.

Jason Kenney did the right things and he did things right, too, including explaining to a somewhat puzzled journalist just what he had done and why ~ ensuring that the Sikh community and the Indian government would understand that Canada’s Conservative government did not cozy up to separatists and terrorists.

Canada needs better in 2019 … in 2013 we had better. We, almost 40% of us, anyway, decided we wanted change. We got it.

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