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‘Policy shift’ seen amidst Tories, Liberal and NDP ‘courting Tamil-Canadians’

In policy shift, Stephen Harper presses Sri Lanka on human rights

“Liberal lock on Toronto-area ridings with big Tamil-Canadian populations has been broken by the Tories and NDP. The community is being courted”

By CAMPBELL CLARK
From Thursday’s Globe and Mail

With 300,000 Tamils living in Canada, the demand that Colombo reconcile with its minority is based on a mixture of principle and politics

Prime Minister David Cameron of UK talking with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a visit to Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, Sep 21, 2011 – pic: Office of PM

Stephen Harper’s government, which alienated many Tamil-Canadians in the last days of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009, is aggressively campaigning to pressure Sri Lanka on human rights and political reconciliation.

It’s a dramatic shift in the Conservative approach to Sri Lanka’s fractured politics. For years they vilified the separatist Tamil Tigers as terrorists, and didn’t vocally criticize the Sinhalese-majority government for discriminating against minority Tamils. The new approach, a mix of diaspora politics and foreign-policy principles, will have implications abroad and at home with a long-frustrated Tamil-Canadian community.

Mr. Harper warned this month that he’ll boycott the 2013 Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka if that government doesn’t show accountability for human-rights abuses and take steps to reconcile with the Tamil minority, and suggested other leaders do the same – a threat, widely reported abroad, that will likely make Sri Lanka a topic at next month’s Commonwealth summit in Australia.

Foreign Minister John Baird has made the campaign a priority, taking up the cudgel in a UN speech last week, in talks with foreign counterparts and meetings with Sri Lankan officials.

Last Thursday, he told Sri Lanka’s Foreign Affairs Minister, G.L. Peiris, that Canada wants progress on human rights and post-civil war reconciliation, pushing back, according to a summary provided by sources, against Mr. Peiris’s “trust us” assurances.

He met earlier this month with Sri Lankan envoy Chitranganee Wagiswara, raising allegations of abuses during the civil war that ended in 2009, and complained that Sri Lanka barred UN investigators, showed a lack of accountability and used “heavy-handed tactics” since the war. “We want to see action,” said Chris Day, Mr. Baird’s spokesman.

In his meetings with Sri Lankan officials, Mr. Baird noted Canada had listed the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist group – apparently to make a point that Ottawa now expects respect for human rights from Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka denies abuses, but in March, a UN panel found “credible allegations” that in the last months of the war the government shelled civilians, no-fire zones and hospitals, and after the war ended, tortured some in camps for displaced people.

Others, such as the United States, are also pressuring Sri Lanka, but now Canada, which provided $200-million in aid to Sri Lanka since 2006, is working to widen the campaign.

It may also have an impact in Canada, in the 300,000 strong Tamil-Canadian community that felt unheard in the last, bloody days of the civil war.

Tens of thousands in Toronto and Ottawa protested abuses, but complained the government didn’t speak up early enough or loud enough, and that opposition parties stayed too quiet. Young Tamil-Canadians often seemed most outraged.

“It was devastating. They weren’t saying anything,” said Aranee Muru, 21, who took a year off from university for protests. “Democracy needs to speak louder.”

There was history. The Tories accused some Liberals of getting too close to Tiger organizers to court Tamil-Canadian votes. For some Tories, the war pitted terrorists against an elected government, so they were slow to speak out; some Liberals feared accusations of pandering to Tiger sympathy.

Now, the Tigers have lost the war, but there’s no reconciliation. Mr. Baird met a group of Tamil-Canadians two weeks ago and took complaints to Sri Lanka’s government.

There is politics: the Liberal lock on Toronto-area ridings with big Tamil-Canadian populations has been broken by the Tories and NDP. The community is being courted.

But pressuring Sri Lanka to reconcile, on principle, is again a topic for all parties, and might also reconcile Tamil-Canadians to their politicians.

“People felt really frustrated at the time of the civil war” said Quintus Thuraisingham, a Toronto Tamil radio show panelist who met Mr. Baird two weeks ago. “We’re happy they’re coming forward to listen, and openly saying things about them.” Campbell Clark writes on foreign affairs from Ottawa Courtesy: The Globe and Mail

40 Comments

  1. silva says:

    Dear Campbell Clark
    Thank you for writing something about Sri Lanka’s Tamils.

    The ethnic minorities have been oppressed from the time of independence and successive governments have been successful in damage control at intergovernmental organsations where the oppressed have no representation:

    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2010/08/outline_of_submission_made_to.html
    Jayantha Dhanapala’s written submission to Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation
    Commission(LLRC), August 2010: ‘’The lessons we have to learn go back to the past – certainly from the time that we had responsibility for our own governance on 4 February 1948 . Each and every Government which held office from 1948 till the present bear culpability for the failure to achieve good governance, national unity and a framework of peace, stability and economic development in which all ethnic, religious and other groups could live in security and equality. Our inability to manage our own internal affairs has led to foreign intervention but more seriously has led to the taking of arms by a desperate group of our citizens’’. (Dhanapala was formerly UN Under-Secretary Generak for Disarmament)

    Oppression goes on unabated afte a 30-yr armed struggle was squashed in May 2009:
    http://www.minorityrights.org/10458/reports/no-war-no-peace-the-denial-of-minority-rights-and-justice-in-sri-lanka.html
    No war, no peace: the denial of minority rights and justice in Sri Lanka, Report by Minority Rights Group International, 19 January 2011:
    With the end of the conflict between Sri Lankan government forces and the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE or ‘Tamil Tigers’) in 2009, normality has returned for much of the population of Sri Lanka. But for members of the country’s two main minority groups – Tamils and Muslims – living in the north and east of the country, harsh material conditions, economic marginalisation, and militarism remain prevalent. Drawing on interviews with activists, religious and political leaders, and ordinary people living in these areas of the country, MRG found a picture very much at odds with the official image of peace and prosperity following the end of armed conflict. … In light of the findings of this report MRG calls on the government of Sri Lanka to respect the economic, cultural and political rights of minorities living in Sri Lanka and to ensure that they gain from post-conflict reconstruction and development projects in the areas where they live. Failure to do so may have long-term repercussions for peace and stability in the country. … The UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues should be granted an invitation by the government to visit the country in order to report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the situation of minorities in Sri Lanka.’’

    The oppressive regimes are oppressing their people by refusing UN help and UN monitoring:
    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2010/03/no_funds_to_meet_needs_of_near.html/
    No funds to meet needs of nearly 200,000 Northern IDPs due to govt refusal to endorse 2010 action plan, 13 March 2010: ”The funding crisis follows the government’s refusal to endorse the 2010 Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP)…. The UN and other humanitarian agencies are running out of resources to meet the urgent needs of internally displaced persons in the North. …”

    4 UN Special Rapporteurs have been waiting for years to be allowed into Sri Lanka:
    http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2011/09/04/sign-convention-insists-un/

    4 September 2011: ”The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has also sought a visit to Sri Lanka on numerous occasions but the Sri Lankan government has yet to approve such a visit.”

    http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/17session/A.HRC.17.27_en.pdf

    Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue*, 16 May 2011:
    ”As of March 2011, the following visit requests from the Special Rapporteur were pending: the Islamic Republic of Iran (requested in February 2010), Sri Lanka (requested in June 2009), Tunisia (requested in 2009), and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (requested in 2003 and 2009).

    http://www.minorityrights.org/10458/reports/no-war-no-peace-the-denial-of-minority-rights-and-justice-in-sri-lanka.htmlNo war, no peace: the denial of minority rights and justice in Sri Lanka, Report by Minority Rights Group International, 19 January 2011:

    ”The UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues should be granted an invitation by the government to visit the country in order to report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the situation of minorities in Sri Lanka.”

    http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=31881&Cr=sri+lanka&Cr1=

    Sri Lanka: UN rights expert calls for probe into video of alleged executions,28 August 2009: ‘’Professor Alston added that he regretted that the Government had not yet issued him an invitation to make an official visit to Sri Lanka, despite a number of requests in recent years, but he hoped an invitation may come given the new allegations.’’

  2. Ma-Rout-Ti says:

    Politics as Usual – There’s no Principle involved here

  3. Selvan says:

    Its a reasuring sign that the democracies of the west are focusing on the plight of oppressed Tamils in Sri Lanka.

    The voiceferous Tamils ( very small proportion of the diaspora) who supported the attrocities of the LTTE should come clean and admit their guilt. Then only the western democracies can truely apply pressure on colombo.

    If the Tamils allow the appoliogists for VP and gang be their voice again. It will do more harm to the people suffering back in Sri Lanka.

    The silent majority should wake up and ask.

    Why did the protests in Ottawa and London suddenly stop after VPs death. Were they protesting for the innocent or for the Fascisit leader VP?

  4. Selva says:

    Canada respects the Democratic values very much. When they came to know that there is no democracy in Sri Lanka they are very much angered. Not only the democratic decisions of the people but also the democratic value of the individuals are not respected. They started learning about it only now. For the Sinhalese having a Westminster type of government is democracy but in reality Russia is a democratic country but sri Lanka is not.

  5. vishvajith says:

    Let it be known that it was during the Govt of Brian Mulroney that Canada led the fight against Apartheid in S.Africa. The other countries followed.

    Canada is now a force and not Canada alone is asking Srilanka to Atone and let our Tamil brothers and sisters live in peace.

    Btw, the Sinhala community in Canada was all ga ga when the Conservatives banned the LTTE and let the GOSL carry on with its project. They voted with the Conservatives in the elections that followed.

    They must be scratching their heads now wondering why their adopted political master is turning its back on them.

  6. Panhinda says:

    Its a two pronged strategy by the west. Its leaders are putting pressure on GoSL to clean up its act while deporting refugees back to SL. Their prime motivation is reducing refugee numbers and reducing costs to their tax payer. I guess its fair enough that they had to bear Sri Lankan burden for 30 years.

  7. Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan says:

    This is one further example our unnecessary mistakes come out later to haunt us. Inflicting that indignation on
    high-profile Canadian leader Bob Rae turning him gracelessly from the airporrt was a mistake we should have known will ricochet. Bob Rae is now running for the No.1 slot of the Liberal Party that ruled Canada many a times. Though Harper’s Convservatives are in the saddle and will be so for some years, they will not take such a slight on a colleague easily. It it little issues like this when they add up cause unbearable trouble to regimes totally ignorant of the niceties of diplomacy.

    ISS

  8. Nathan says:

    The notion that Canada is turning over a new leaf on the political landscape of Sri Lanka is lopsided. No one can dispute that Canada, irrespective of the party holding the reins, always maintained a steady policy on Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka.

    The Harper administration cannot be faulted for its stance of May 2009. It was not prepared to sympathize with LTTE, a Group it had proscribed. However, it erred against the side of caution, when it failed to see Tamil Canadians for who they are.

    The cries of Tamil Canadians was loud and clear. It was essentially from Tamils who had been afforded refuge in Canada. Tamil Canadians were pleading with the Harper Administration to save the civilians caught in the crossfire in SL. It was a rational call for humanitarian intervention.

    LTTE flags, hoisted at the protest marches blinded the vision of the Harper Government. Little did Harper realise that those flags were from an insignificant number who acted emotionally raising those LTTE flags.

    Well, now, that is water under the bridge.

    Every support should be given to the government of Canada on its new found vigour to set the record straight.

  9. Kaz says:

    The west’s plan was to wipe out the LTTE at all costs, even if it meant the slaughter of thousands of innocent Tamil civilians which is exactly what happened and then pressure the Rajapaksa regime to grant Tamils their just rights. In doing so, they intentionally ignored the authoritarian nature of the Rajapaksa regime and the history of the SL state (including state terror against the Tamils which existed long before the LTTE came into existence).

    You didn’t have to be a genius to work out that justice and equal rights for Tamils will not be forthcoming from the Rajapaksa regime after the war. Reconciliation is only a distant dream under the regime. Surely the smart political analysts in the western capitals knew that. But yet, they went ahead in supporting the regime in Colombo. The Harper government was one of the strongest supporters of the regime amongst the western nations.

    Tamil Canadians should welcome the policy shift, if that is truly the case, but should also question the Harper government’s support for the regime in Colombo in the past. Tamil Canadians, your vote is precious, use it wisely. Do not let the massacre of 40 thousand innocent Tamil civilians be easily forgotten.

  10. Arul Sittampalam says:

    ‘Policy shift’ seen amidst Tories, Liberal and NDP and also should say the rest of the world as well!

    The LTTE ignored the world’s opinion as irrevelant and became a banned entity throughout the western world and similarly, the GOSL is courting the same fate with it’s scant regard for the UN and the western world.

    Time is running out.

  11. Kalu Albert says:

    Why would Srilanka worry about Canadian prime Minister sucking up to the pro LTTE Diaspora?.

    Canadian PM has already promised to take his bat and go home , rather keep his bat at home.

    As Mr Sengutuan says Bob Ray hijacked the pro LTTE diaspora a while ago and annexed them well and truly to the Liberal camp.

    With Harper needing every marginal to get back again, of course he has to pander to the pro LTTE support base.although he was a bit slow off the mark.

    He is now is playing catch up.

    Canada hasn’t given any thing substantial to the inhabitants of Srilanaka in recent times , except issuing Visas for any one who can pretend that they are victims and have money to get there.

    The great majority of inhabitants who are living peacefully without suicide bombs couldn’t careless whether Harper or one else for that matter do not come to visit them.

    Neither the Srialakn Govt . if these do gooders take the side of the LTTE supporters , instead of helping the great majority of people who are trying to move ahead in a peaceful and harmonious environment.

  12. Ranjan, Toronto says:

    This has little to do with any perceived slight on Bob Rae. This is all about securing the Tamil vote in Toronto. The conservatives have wised up to the fact that there is a block of votes that has been traditionally not theirs, that they could very easily secure by coming down hard on Sri Lanka. Tamil community, who knows which way the political winds are blowing, knows that Tories are in a position to be in power in Canada in the foreseeable future. This is the only political party that they could not have access to in the past. They must be jumping for joy.

    In fact Tories would be delighted to slight, humiliate, and put down Bob Rae and or any other opposition politician at any and every given opportunity.

  13. J.Muthu says:

    Man not for tamil vote, tamil power man. Any one got six senses knows value of intelligent and hard working peoples power.

  14. Aravinda L says:

    Is your name Silva or Selva?

  15. Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan says:

    “As Mr Sengutuan says Bob Ray hijacked the pro-LTTE diaspora a while ago and annexed them well and truly to the Liberal camp” Come on Kalu. Ask a Tamil friend, if you have one, what “poi sonnal porundath chol” means. Roughly translated it suggests if you tell a lie try to make it somewhat fitting and relevant. You are miles off the mark here. Read my comments again, my friend. Incidentally, the more active political interests in the Tamil side in Canada jettisoned the Liberals (Bob Re’s current Party) months before the last Canadian General Elections. Clearly they read the signs pretty well and know which side of the bread the butter is on. LP was reduced to No.3 position with Michael Ignatieff – Candidate for PM – losing his own seat. I am, of course, not suggesting the debacle of the LP under Ignatieff was entirely due to the work of the Lankan Tamil population. Their numbers are far too small.

    What happened to us was both Colombo and our diplomats sent to Canada were simply not upto it,

    ISS

  16. Suresh M says:

    This not ALL about Tamil vote in GTA, also about democratic principle and politics. Read the whole story you ‘Aappu miniya’.

  17. Suresh M says:

    May be Siva with one extra letter!

  18. Piranha says:

    I think politics has a lot to play in the decision of the Canadian government. They did keep quiet during the last stages of the war when they knew that the tamil civilians were being slaughtered by the SL govt forces. The Wikileaks clearly show that the indians, americans, the EU and even the UN knew about the slaughter but kept quiet. Why the sudden concern about human rights in Sri Lanka? Politics is the answer. Anyway, the canadian stance is very welcome as the thousands of dead tamils and their loved ones need justice.It is also nice to see the public discomfiture of the murderous Rajapakse government.

  19. M.Sivananthan says:

    But Bob Rae was booed and chased away by the Canadian Tigers in a meeting while he started to talk about the crimes of the LTTE.

    Canadian democracy has allowed the LTTE thuggery in Toronto streets.

  20. M.Sivananthan says:

    Canada still not prepared to solve the AIR INDIA bombing. Then what are these canadian politicians worry about Sri Lanka?

  21. Sarath says:

    Kalu tries to tell the world that the situation in Lanka is now peaceful.
    To quote him “instead of helping the great majority of people who are trying to move ahead in a peaceful and harmonious environment.”
    Have you heard of the “Grease Yakkas” in the various districts, where half naked greased men attacks women
    mostly middle aged, in the night and when confonted by vigliantes escape to the nearest army camp or a check-point?
    This is only one form of harrassment of Tamils after ending the war.

  22. Dagobert says:

    Ontario Provincial Council elections on the Cards….guys.
    Human Rights & croco tears……

  23. jagan sriram says:

    western countries have been in the forefront of championing the human rights anywhere in the world.western countries which are predominently white championed for sanctions against south africa which was following apartheid policies.hence western countries are now after srilanka for its utter disregard for human rights of its own citizens let it be sinhalese or tamil or muslim.though vote bank politics is also there it is very much an idealistic cause.if rajapakshe can play politics for sinhalese votes what is wrong if tories also play politics to get tamil canadians vote.atleast tories bid is worthwhile which can result in government accountability for human rights in srilanka.

  24. Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan says:

    Before “the Conservatives wised up” the organized Tamils in Canada apparently decided to throw their lot with Stephen Harper – and against their traditional favourites – the Liberals. This happened not now but around January 2011. Conservatives benefited enormously by this shift on May 02. Canadian activist Tamils though discouraged by Conservative action earlie seem to be far savvier and know what transition times are. In the Ontario MPP elections due on Oct 06 there is every likelihood both Shan Thayaparan and Neethan Shan contesting are likely to win – thus increasing the Lankan voice in Canadian politics.Being in Toronto does not necessarily provide one with special wisdom in these matters. As Trotsky was to observe even hardened leftist thinkers of his times could not sometimes identity a revolution taking place right in front of their eyes.

    As to “Tories will be delighted to humiliate and put down Bob Rae or any other
    Politician” this is a narrow view not representative of the more sublimne Canadian political culture. This is more looking at Politics in Canada through a jaundiced prism of the low, unprincipled Lankan political culture of the present times – which even decent Middle class unconnected Lankans thoroughly disapprove of.

    ISS

    As to

  25. Ranjan, Toronto says:

    I guess you comprehension of English is not very good. Did I say anywhere that that it is wrong for the Tories to play for the Tamil vote? They would be stupid if they did not see the opportunity and play for the Tamil vote.

  26. Ranjan, Toronto says:

    Democratic principles?

    So then it will not be very long before the Canadian government will speak up about Saudi Arabia, Baharain and God forbid, may be even about India – the situation in Kashmir and in the Tribal Lands for instance?

    No wait…. Canada can not speak against India because it exports asbestos (among other things), which is a known carcinogenic and a banned substance in Canada to India for dollars!

    Democratic principles indeed!

  27. Ranjan, Toronto says:

    Yesterday’s US drone strike in Yemen killing the Al Qaida of Arabia leader Awlaki and the publisher of their English language magazine, Samir Khan raises interesting questions. They were both US citizens. While there were all kinds of allegations against Awlaki, the only concrete evidence that the public has seen so far were his fiery anti-US sermons urging the Muslims to attack and kill Americans. The US never even attempted to try him in US courts in absentia. In fact when Awlaki’s father went to courts last year to get a court order to prevent US government from summarily executing him, the courts decided that since he is an adult, no one can go to the courts on behalf of him. So the bottom line is that US executed him, a US citizen, just because he ranted against the US.

    Now personally I don’t care about Awlaki or Samir Khan. But the point is what is good for the goose is good for the gander also. So on the same grounds, can Sri Lanka search all over the world and execute all the people who are ranting against that country? Go on the internet, you get any number of people on a given day that urges resumption of the Tamil war against Sri Lanka and Sinhalese. If US has a right to go anywhere in the world and summarily execute people, surly all the other countries in the world have the same right?

  28. Kalu Albert says:

    “Srilankan political culture is low and un principled” according to Mr Sengutuan.

    It is rather ironic that 90 percent of the wise Canadian Tamil population that Mr Sengutuan is bragging about, is a by product of the Politics of Mr Sengutuans ilk.

    Out of this 300.000 a few would be comfortable with their Top hats and Tail coats, mingling with Toffee nosed Tories at $3000 a plate fund raisers.

    What about the Fresh Off the Boat battlers?.

    Watching Mr Cameron going hard on us, for the marginals in high density ethnic enclaves,in the former British Empire, the Eelaam Chapter probably sensed some opportunity in the Canadian capital.

    That is good in a way because Conservatives in the West are more disciplined than their Labor opponents.

    By the way Mr Sengutuan referring to the Canadian diaspora as Lankan Canadians is an affront to them.

    Because in numerous interviews and write up of these Diaspora members that I have seen, none of them ever,including the new kid on the block, the shining star of the Canadian Green Party call themselves Tamil Canadians.

  29. Ranjan, Toronto says:

    “this is a narrow view not representative of the more sublimne Canadian political culture. This is more looking at Politics in Canada through a jaundiced prism of the low, unprincipled Lankan political culture of the present times – which even decent Middle class unconnected Lankans thoroughly disapprove of.”

    I have observed Canadian politics for the last 30 years which is more than I have observed Sri Lankan politics. And judging from the statement above, you have no clue whatsoever about Canadian politics.

    There is no doubt that Tamil voting patterns are changing towards the Conservatives, but to say that that has had enormous benefit to the Conservatives during last elections is stupid. Where is the evidence? At the most the Tamil votes may have given conservatives one or two additional seats in Toronto area. The seismic shift in Canadian politics happened in Quebec, when voters dumped the BQ and the Liberals to vote for NDP. That was almost certainly due to the personality and the reputation of Jack Laton. He is no more so now it is anyone’s guess as to where the Canadian politics will go.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Ranjan, the concern you have for carcinogens must be appreciated. Please follow the link to learn more.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/18/business/worldbusiness/18iht-toys.4.6193391.html?pagewanted=all

  31. Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan says:

    “You have no clue whatsoever about Canadian politics ….I have observed Canadian politics for 30 years”
    says a regular commentator here. I must confess my knowledge in Canadian politics – as in all other – is limited. I learn with every passing day. But I make it a point to be as accurate as possible in my affairs.

    My earlier observations were based on my own study of the matter networking with friends on the spot engaged in political analysis in Canada – generally well-informed and fairly connected. When I visited last – months before the May General Elections – my friends hosted me at Dinner where Bollywood star Akshay Kumar was present to greet his friend PM Stephen Harper in a well-attended function in Brampton – an electorate dominated by the Indian community that is represented by more than one MP. Though my encounter with the PM was brief – hundreds were surrounding him – I had a fair talk with some of his key aides to get a feel of the Conservative view of Sri Lanka then. It was that evening I learnt a street in the vicinity will be named after the late actor Raj Kapoor. Later on my friends told me the Liberal Party Bus – with all their stalwarts – will stop at the Farmer’s Market at Markham Town/Road. There I met with Michael Ignatieff – whom I have met before since we have a common friend in the late Dr Neelan Tiruchelvam. I also met with Bob Rae there and told him most Lankans like me were shocked he was turned away at Katunayake airport. The reticent Rae did not seem much bothered but did mention
    “I did’nt hear from your Govt along those lines” This was arranged by Luis Temelkovski – former Liberal MP of the area. I also met with Paul Calandra, a sitting Conservative MP on another occasion and noted he was pleased the activist Tamils have now joined the Conservative bandwagon. He told me this will tilt the balance in their favour in several ridings in the Province. It did.

    I also got the impression the negative views of these gentlemen were not with the Lankan people but with some of the current leaders. That I would expect is ”evidence” enough for the moment demanded by this long time Toronto resident. The Trotsykite analogy I made earlier applies to those who have lived in a place for decades and have much to learn – even of ordinary events. Equally, I am aware Lankans in Canada – and notably the GTA outside the Tamil community – go out of the way to build links with our Consular officials in Toronto, Ottawa and Colombo weaving many imaginary tales of intrigue of the dreaded “diaspora” Following this flimsy advise “Specialists” were sent from Colombo to Toronto to break the backbone of the Tamil diaspora, buy them over and win over the Canadian Govt. This does not seem to have happened. The diaspora has become stronger with even a voice in the Federal Parliament now. The Canadian Govt and the Opposition are in total sympathy with the Tamil cause. The experts who came went back hither and hither – with one getting caught on aberrations of a salacious nature.
    As matters stand today, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, the NDP, the Liberals and academic Canada are all agreed the Rajapakse Govt must get their act together. If the next CHOGM is denied to Colombo that will be the nastiest blow to our entire nation.

    The finest tribute to the diaspora and the faith they have generated among ruling Colombo circles is evidenced by the fact it is widely known very large resources from the Lankan side are entrusted to diaspora sources for investment and safe-keeping in Toronto and the rest of Canada. From the angle of the owners of these ill-gotten funds this is not a bad choice – considering Gadaffi eventually was to discover the greatest names in the banking world too can be unreliable when it comes to the safety of their funds. These are always safer in Tamil hands.

    ISS

  32. Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan says:

    Friend Kalu Albert – the permanent student

    The “New Kid on the Block” you have in mind is not from the Green Party – but from the NDP…Canadians do not wear
    Top Hats and Tail-coat. It is the Brits who do that …..Tamil Canadian is a respected name in Canada and the diaspora. A leading journal carries this name as well – just do a bit more study, lad. Aney, Pow.

    ISS

  33. Ranjan, Toronto says:

    I asked you to provide evidence to back your statement that Tamil votes impacted significantly for “enormous benefit” for conservatives in the last election. You did not do that.

    There is no doubt that there is significant Indian community support for the conservatives. However, that does not mean that there is similar Tamil support that turned the election for conservatives. The Indian community in Toronto is mostly north Indian, they do not identify themselves with the Southern Tamils that well.

    As I said earlier, the almost 100% support by the SL Tamil community for the Liberals are slowly eroding. However, to think that 150,000 votes (assuming 50% of the Tamil population is eligible to vote) can turn an election from one side to the other in a country with a population of 30 million is laughable. As for the two Tamil gentlemen that are running in the current provincial election, we will see on October 6th how they do. Just keep in mind that one is running in a riding with a huge Chinese majority against Chinese candidates and the other is running against an incumbent who is well thought of.

  34. Ranjan, Toronto says:

    Anonymous,
    Thanks for the link, but I know all about this issue. This is what I call murderous hypocracy. Asbestos is a substance that is totally banned in Canada. By law, you even have to remove any asbestos that might be in old buildings. However, Canadian government has absolutely no problem of selling this stuff to India, where they know, news media have shown in documentaries, that this stuff is used without any protection by the workers. Just so that they can keep an asbestos mine open in Quebec.

    I guess democratic principles and peoples health are secondary when it comes money and votes. It boggles one’s mind that how this can continue in the face of absolute opposition from every single health organization in and outside Canada.

  35. Navin says:

    “CHOGM is denied to Colombo that will be the nastiest blow to our entire nation.”

    There is no indignation in some bankrupt politician like Stephen Harper refusing to come to Colombo to placate his electorate. Had Stephen Harper done anything of worthy significance to his own people, he would not have to rely on the LTTE rump to get elected.

  36. Kalu Albert says:

    “Had Harper done anything worthwhile for his own people he wouldn’t have to rely on the LTTE rump”

    What a comment

    Here are some facts about these Canadians

    Life Expectancy Srilanka 64 (1970) Canada 73 (1970)

    74 (2010) Canada 81 (2010)

    Literacy 91 99

    Improved Drinking Water 82PC 100

    Per Capita USD 2000 (09) 43,000

    Canada’s Aid to Srilanka only USD 3.1 Million since 2009. even that with strings attached to save the LTTE leadership.

    Are we going to Miss Mr Harper ?.

    Just in comparison Japan has given USD 23 Million just to defuse land mines in the North. and the East.

    Mind you most of these mines were purchased with Canadian money and planted by the cadres who were paid with Canadian money as well.

    May be Mr Harper wants some returns on their investments in the Diaspora.

  37. Ranjan, Toronto says:

    So Mr ISS,
    Do you still think the balance of power in Canada is turning in Conservative’s favour simply because of Tamil vote? At yesterday’s provincial elections in Ontario, the Conservatives have been shutout in Toronto – where the Tamil vote should have made a difference if what you said was true.

    Just as I expected, both Tamil candidates lost, albeit for different reasons in the two cases. In this multi-ethnic, multi-cultural city, in many instances people still vote along the ethnic lines.

  38. I says:

    Responding to Toronto Ranjan (Oct 07) the sketchy info I have is the 107 MPP seats are shared by Liberals/53 Prog Conservativs/37 and the NDP 17. Third time PM Dalton McGuinty calls this,tongue-in-cheek, as a “Minority Majority” An initial reading shows the Conservatives and the NDP have increased their seats while the PC have lost about 17. It is reasonable, therefore, to assume in the ridings where Tamils live in appreciable numbers their re-position has worked against the PC and to the advantage of the other 2 camps.

    I am told the 2 Tamil candidates lost – one narrowly. Another factor is less than
    50% voters have gone to the polls that was held on a working Thursday. Candidates too have not shown up at the homes of voters – as on May 02 – resulting in the low poll. But that is not an excuse. Tamil candidates will have to organise their pockets of voting in such a way well in advance of the next elections to be more successful.

    ISS

  39. Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan says:

    Correction – “against the Liberals”

    ISS

  40. Ranjan, Toronto says:

    ISS,

    As I wrote here BEFORE the election, I expected the two Tamil candidates to lose, for the reasons that I explained at that time.

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