Archive | May, 2011

Bengali Prime Minister greeted by protestors at Person International

Posted on 25 May 2011 by admin

“If the government of Bangladesh is going to continue with this pattern of harassment of a major international NGO that is doing magnificent work, I think it appropriate that Canada reconsider whether it should place Bangladesh on the list of countries where we undertake major aid” – John Richards, a public policy professor at Simon Fraser University.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived in Toronto on May 18th  evening in private visit to meet her daughter- protester accused her for her anti-democratic fascist role in her country.

When an Air France plan arrived on schedule at 4:05 pm in Toronto Pearson International Airport a group of almost 30 protesters mostly supporters of main opposition party BNP were waiting in the Arrival Lounge holding black flags and placards. A similar number of local leaders and supporters of ruling party were present with flowers and banners to greet Sheikh Hasina. No officials from Bangladesh Embassy in Ottawa were seen in the airport to greet Hasina.

Media-men were waiting for almost an hour in front of the ‘Arrival Exit’

While supports, protesters and also journalist and media-men were waiting for almost an hour in front of the ‘Arrival Exit’ to the utter surprise of every one Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, left the airport through ‘Departure Exit’.

The waiting cameraman from a local TV channel was found waiting in front of the  ‘Arrival Exit’ for an hour. When he was told that Hasina has passed through other exit, on his utter surprise he said, even our Prime Minister Harper uses this exit door. A lady who was waiting to greet one of her relative join the conversation by saying, it depends on how clean you are in politics which exit you take.

Protesters, wearing black band on head, were holding placards with different demands and comments. Some of them are- Stop Harassing of Dr. Yunus, Stop Extra-Judicial Killing, and Release Political Prisoners.

A group of supporters of Awami League under the banner of ‘JOBOLEAGUE, CANADA’ came to greet Hasina.

Sheikh Hasina will leave for France on 24th to attend a seminar “Global Initiatives on Girl’s and Women Education’ to be held in Paris on 26th May.

She may attend a seminar arranged by women section of local Awami league scheduled in the Reagent Park on 21st May. She may face similar type of protest in a bigger scale.

Sheikh Hasina may meet with high profile personalities during her stay in Canada.

For a twice-postponed state visit to Canada earlier this year No. 1 subject on Hasina’s agenda with Govt. of Canada may be getting Nur Chowdhury back to face justice in Bangladesh.

Canada is home to Nur Chowdhury, the convicted killer of Sheik Mujibur Rahmman, the founding president of Bangladesh and the father of the current president.

It was a particularly brutal slaying of not just the president, but also most of his family, and Hasina has been -not surprisingly -obsessed with getting Chowdhury back to face justice.

A group of supporters of Awami League under the banner of ‘JOBOLEAGUE, CANADA’ came to greet Hasina.

Canada has no reason to want to protect this guy.

The problem is that Chowdhury has been sentenced to death, and Canada won’t extradite anyone facing capital punishment.

It’s not clear if she’s still planning put her No. 1 agenda in table , but if she does, Canada may have it’s own No. 1 agenda item -Yunus.

John Richards, a public policy professor at Simon Fraser University who had a long and continuing relationship with civil society institutions in Bangladesh notes that , “If the government of Bangladesh is going to continue with this pattern of harassment of a major international NGO that is doing magnificent work, I think it appropriate that Canada reconsider whether it should place Bangladesh on the list of countries where we undertake major aid.”

Source: http://www.bdinn.com/news/protests-greet-hasina-in-toronto-airport/

 

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South Asian Heritage Month: The legacy of the Komagata Maru

Posted on 25 May 2011 by admin

The Komagata Maru was one of many incidents charged with racial discrimination of “coloured people” in Canada. But this incident does not only serve as a reminder of that discrimination but as a marker in history for all Canadians to realize that how we have advanced.

May is Asian and South Asian Heritage Month. A month meant to honour all of those very first immigrants who began life anew in (often hostile) Canadian cities. It is a month to recognize the immigrant’s ordeals in adapting to a new life and also their triumphs in adding more colourful threads into the fabric of Canadian society. Today, Canadian immigrants enjoy equal rights and respect in the Canadian society, they are not barred from jobs or forced to retreat into areas defined by their original homeland culture. Immigrants in Canada are a valuable and indispensable part of Canadian society. But it was not always so. And that is why it is important to recall the incident of the Komagata Maru on its anniversary 97 years later.

 

The Komagata Maru was a Japanese-owned ship chartered out of Hong Kong in April 1914 by 376 Punjabis, mostly Sikhs, bound for Canada. The Canadian government had created the continuous voyage clause (Bill of Direct Passage), by which Indians were only allowed into Canada if they had made a continuous journey without any stopovers. The clause was intended to reduce the number of Indians and also Japanese immigrants who came in ships that harboured in Vancouver B.C. However, before the government created the clause, 2000 Sikhs were settled in B.C and there remained public hostility against Indians.

 

And it was out of this hostility and racist undertone in the society at the time, that the passengers of the Komagata Maru, after having travelled for nearly a month to reach Vancouver, were not even allowed to step one foot on it. The passengers were astounded that they, citizens of the British Empire, could not enter another colony of the British Empire.

 

In their eyes, Indians and Canadians were the same; both were subjects of the British Empire. But the Canadian government and Vancouver society did not share the same sentiment. For two months, the ship’s passengers tried to gain access to the province, but eventually they were turned away and the ship was re-routed to Calcutta (now Kolkata), India. This is normally where the Canadian history textbooks sign off; they say that’s where the Komagata Maru’s story finishes. In reality, the journey continued.

 

In Calcutta, the police were suspicious of the passengers and there was a brewing hostility. Upon disembarking, 20 passengers of the Komagata Maru were killed by police shootings. It was a sad end of the voyage that many of the men aboard the Komagata Maru had not envisioned.

 

The blatant racism that was present in the 20th century Canada is almost unthinkable today. Nevertheless, such incidents of racism are like milestones to remind us that we’ve come a long way since anti-Asian rallies and discriminatory immigration policies.

 

In fact, in March of this year, the Vancouver Boards accepted the donation of a monument in the Harbour Green Park to commemorate what took place in 1914. It was this park about a kilometre away from the shore where the Komagata Maru was moored and so it was the chosen location for the monument. Perhaps the passengers could see the park from their perch atop the ill fated ship, maybe they had longed to take a stroll in it.

 

The monument which was proposed by the Khalsa Diwan Society, will be funded by the Historical Recognition Program of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney pledged $82,500 to the Khalsa Diwan Society for the monument in December 2010. While the design is yet to be finalised, it will include a steel replica of the boat and photos and text about the Komagata Maru incident.

 

The Komagata Maru was one of many incidents charged with racial discrimination of “coloured people” in Canada. But this incident does not only serve as a reminder of that discrimination but as a marker in history for all Canadians to realize that how we have advanced.

 

While the residents of Vancouver were afraid that the immigrants would take their jobs in 1914, today immigrants are predicted to make up nearly 50% of Canada’s workforce in the near future. While Asian and South Asian immigrants were likely to live in close ethnic communities, today they are successfully working and living everywhere in Canada. Where discriminatory legislation tried to restrict immigration from Asia and South Asia in the 20th century, immigrants are said to be the future of Canada in the 21st century. So, yes, we have come a long way since the Komagata Maru. And from here the only way is forward.

 

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Federal Ministers that are Crucial for the South Asian Community

Posted on 25 May 2011 by admin

The Honourable Jason Kenney:

Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism

Though many people are sceptical of his outreach to carious South Asian communities, Mr. Kenney is rightfully credited to turn the “ethnic” voter bank to Conservatives. His Ministry and his work is crucial for the South Asian community whether its parental and grandparental sponsorship, foreign student visas, foreign worker visas, cracking down on crooked consultants or human smuggling.

The Honourable Diane Finley:

Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (HRSDC)

Liberals and New Democrats think that HRSDC has not done a good job in addressing the issue of recognizing foreign credentials. Many in the South Asian community agree. The issue of foreign credential recognition came up over and over again during the federal election campaign.

If your business needs foreign workers, HRSDC is where you look at to meet all the criteria.

Minister Finley was the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, so she understands the frustrations and problems of new Canadians in getting appropriate jobs because immigrants’ credentials are not recognized.

The Honourable John Baird:

Minister of Foreign Affairs

With India emerging as a global power, Canada’s foreign policy toward India would be critical under Minister Baird.

The capture and killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan has raised the world’s suspicion and faith in Pakistan Army especially when the two larger South Asian countries – India and Pakistan – are capable of triggering a nuclear battle.

The debate of withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan will also lead the Canadian diplomats to reassess the situation in Afghanistan. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka also have interests in the stability of the region.

The Honourable Edward Fast:

Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Minister Fast will be responsible for carrying forward the work done by Minister Van Loan in ensuring that the free trade agreement between Canada and India is signed by 2013 as promised by Tories during the election campaign. Organizations like Canada-India Foundation and Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce will be looking at Minister Fast’s work critically.

The Honourable Vic Toews:

Minister of Public Safety

With a growing threat of home grown terrorism, policies put in place by Minister Toews’ Ministry can have a great impact on the South Asian community.

The Honourable Tim Uppal:

Minister of State (Democratic Reform)

There is a feeling that the South Asian community is more critical of South Asians in the position of power. As such Minister Uppal will be under greater scrutiny from the South Asian as to what he delivers for the South Asians. Prior to being appointed to the Ministry, Mr. Uppal served on the standing committees for Health, and Citizenship and Immigration.

 

 

The Honourable Alice Wong:

Minister of State (Seniors)

With a growing number of South Asian seniors, Minister Wong will be wise to look into a reciprocal agreement between Canada and South Asian countries so that South Asian seniors can live in dignity.

The Honourable Bal Gosal:

Minister of State (Sport)

Like Minister Uppal, Minister Gosal will also be scrutinized for his work in the South Asian community of Bramalea–Gore–Malton. Now that he is the Minister of State (Sports), we may see some more emphasis on South Asian sports like kabbadi and cricket.

Mrs. Preeti Saran, the Indian Consul General in Toronto, has said publically that she was surprised by the cheers of the local Indo-Canadian community on India’s winning the cricket world cup. There is tremendous potential for the government to invest in cricket. Also cricket has strong roots in all South Asian communities with origins from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The Ministries are not given in any specific order.

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Generally About Books

Posted on 25 May 2011 by admin

They tell me that my modest achievement, which seems so great to me, is in reality the easy part. From next month, I embark upon the harder task of re-writing. And I have no idea when that process will end, if ever.

 

Writing is not easy…

I used to think that writing was, well, if not easy, not difficult either.

 

That was a long time ago. Then, a couple of years ago, I embarked upon a foolhardy mission to write a novel.

 

Euripides was right. Those whom Gods wish to destroy, they make them mad first.

 

I shall skip a reiteration of how my short story turned into a novel, and all the momentous events that sort of gave a new direction to life, and a fresh impetus to my enthusiasm.

 

They seem important only to me.

 

After two years of writing, I am about to complete the first draft of a novel – a modest 60,000 words or so.

 

I should be happy, if not overjoyed. I am not.

 

I’m unsure and wary, and realise that I need to do a million things more with the draft, before I can say that the novel is worthy of being read by others who are not my friends and well-wishers.

 

During these two years, I have had tremendous support from published writers, both established ones and the about-to-be established ones.

 

They empathise with me – a newbie on the block. They cheer me on as I struggle, much as a newcomer to Canada from the tropics does, learning to walk on the snow, wearing nine layers of warm clothes and heavy snow boots.

 

It is the ‘been there, done it’ syndrome, I guess.

 

They tell me that my modest achievement, which seems so great to me, is in reality the easy part. From next month, I embark upon the harder task of re-writing. And I have no idea when that process will end, if ever.

 

In the past, I have enjoyed reading good writing, especially good prose writing both fiction and non-fiction, in a general sort of a way.

 

Over the last two years, writing has helped me evolve as a reader. I pay attention to what I read, to the way in which a writer captures an emotion, a feeling, and the felicitous use of an expression, a turn of phrase, to convey precisely a mere nuance.

 

Let me illustrate this by an example from MG Vassanji’s The In-Between World of Vikram Lall

 

The train from Kisumu had come in late, and so we left at a little before dawn from Nakuru, which was as well because we could see more, though the Kisumu passengers were irate for having to wake up from their rocking slumbers. We reached Naivasha as dawn was breaking beyond the mountains.

How can I describe that feeling of looking out the sliding window above the little washbasin, as the small second-class cabin jostled and bumped along the rails, and taking in deep breaths of that cool, clean air and, simply, with wide hungry eyes absorbing my world. It was to become aware of one’s world, physically, for the first time, in a manner I had never done before, whose universe had encompassed our housing estate and my school, the shop and my friends, the tree-lined street outside that brought people in and out of our neighbourhood.

That scene outside the train window I can conjure up at any time of the day or night; I would see, feel, and experience it in similar ways so frequently in my life; in some essential way it defines me. This was my country – how could it not be?

 

I keep the book down and sigh. Will I achieve such depth, ever?

 

Writing is not easy. In fact, it is a struggle.

By Mayank Bhatt

 

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MPP Helena Jaczek (Oakridges-Markham): Embodying Liberal Values

Posted on 25 May 2011 by admin

What’s unique about the South Asian community, she says, is its cultural festivals and holidays. “There’s always an event the community is holding to which they invite people from all levels of the political world,” says MPP from Oakridges-Markham.

“We had the largest blackout in history in North America. The system basically collapsed because of the Tory neglect.” Investment in energy sectors are like “family investment where sometimes you have to pay for benefits in the future. We all do that,” she tells Generation Next’s readers.

Suggestions like taxing people is what Conservatives exploit to garner swing and Liberal votes. “We [Liberals] balance very well compared to what you hear from the NDP – tax everybody, lower tuition costs etc..versus Conservatives who want to cut taxes. When you cut taxes, you cut services. Simple as that,” explains MPP Jaczek.

 

 

As Health Officer in York region for nearly twenty years, Dr. Helena Jaczek, MPP from Markham Oakridges saw firsthand “what the previous Harris government did to social services in Ontario, to education and even to the safety of drinking water in Walkerton, the tragedy where people died.”

 

Motivated by the friends she decided to run for the provincial legislature in 2007, and since then she is serving the residents of Oakridges-Markham.

 

Her medical background has convinced her that the provincial government is on the right track to help Ontarians access a healthcare professional.

 

“When the McGuinty government came into office in 2003, there were 1 million Ontarians without a family doctor and I haven’t heard that complaint for at least five years..So we’re making really dramatic improvements. Of course during a time of global recession, we can’t do as much as you want to do. But we’ve made dramatic changes to healthcare,” she stated in an interview with Generation Next.

 

While many Ontarians are upset with the HST, Ontario Liberals have so far ignored their frustrations and anger. MPP Jaczek is no different. Her experience is that the anger has been media manufactured.

 

“Not nearly as much as the media would make us believe,” she says.

 

With PC leader’s plan to cut the HST from home heating and hydro bills, Liberals are crying wolf.

 

“People know that hydro costs are rising because of all the investments we’re making. Some people in the Fall were seeing high bills, partly because they were estimates and not the actual readings. So we told them to go read their own meter, phone into Hydro One and see if there’s a mistake,” she says when it comes to higher home heating and hydro bills.

 

Dr. Jaczek also believes that the opposition is exploiting the confusion in meter-reading. MPP Jaczek reminds Ontarians that we had the largest blackout in history in North America. The system basically collapsed because of the Tory neglect.” Investment in energy sectors are like “family investment where sometimes you have to pay for benefits in the future. We all do that,” she tells us.

 

MPP Frank Klees, PC Infrastructure critic, is outraged by the Liberal government’s lack of attention to infrastructure projects. MR. Kless told Generation Next in an interview that the Liberal government scrapped excellent infrastructure projects put in place by the previous PC government. MPP Jaczek who is MPP Klees’ neighbour rejects the criticism suggesting that the infrastructure projects are generally joint projects between the federal and the provincial government. “Maybe Mr. Klees is not happy with what he got in his riding, and he should talk to Lois Brown [MP for Newmarket-Auroroa] about that,” she says.

 

Over the years, MPP Jaczek has learned that “everything is very slow at the provincial level. Projects that I talked about when I was getting elected; some of them are only now getting approved.”

 

Among those projects were doubling the size of Markham hospital. Dr. Jaczek is also very keen to increase two way GO trains in my riding. I would like to see the GO train that ends in Richmond Hill to extend to my riding.”

 

Should there by tolls on the highway usage?

 

“I think people would understand that if you’re building something new you can borrow money and pay it off by income tax.. I’m not opposed; it’s something to be looked at..The last thing you want to do is sell your highway to a foreign company like the Conservatives did with the 407,” responds Dr. Jaczek.

 

Suggestions like taxing people is what Conservatives exploit to garner swing and Liberal votes. “We [Liberals] balance very well compared to what you hear from the NDP – tax everybody, lower tuition costs etc..versus Conservatives who want to cut taxes. When you cut taxes, you cut services. Simple as that,” explains MPP Jaczek.

 

Like any other community, visible minorities bring forth their issues. But MPP Jaczek’s opinion is that “the majority of people don’t ask political questions at all. It’s about getting help for their family etc, day to day problems that they are having in their lives.”

 

With voter turnout dropping every year, Dr. jaczek’s tells us that most of her constituents commute to work. “A huge number of people are so busy that they hardly comprehend what is going on. I think we made a real progress in having more advanced polls, so it makes it easier for people. We’ve extended the hours.”

 

Cracking down on election fraud, Dr. Jaczek said “It is important that our government recognizes the seriousness of election fraud. No one should ever prevent a person from exercising their democratic right to vote.”

 

 

With a Mandir in her riding, Dr. Jaczek is aware that the cultural centre offers  wonderful programs for seniors, “they do a lot of physical activity, good nutrition, screening for health problems.” With investment from the provincial government, the mandir will expand its facilities.

 

“People from the South Asian community seem to want to get more involved politically. There is more debate; there’s obviously the tradition of parliamentary democracy in any South Asian country. Any time I’m invited to a South Asian event, I know I’m going to meet very interesting people, people who work very hard doing whatever they can for their families and community. It’s really inspiring,” says Dr. Jaczek about the South Asian community.

 

What’s unique about the South Asian community, she says, is its cultural festivals and holidays. “There’s always an event the community is holding to which they invite people from all levels of the political world,” says MPP from Oakridges-Markham.

 

With roots in Sri Lanka, Dr. Jaczek is planning a trip to India very soon. “The elections are in October, so win or lose, I want to get to India. Early next year might be a window of opportunity for a couple of weeks. My mother lived in Sri Lanka her whole childhood. I have a lot of sentiment towards Sri Lanka as well because I learned about it through stories and photographs. My British family even stayed in Sri Lanka after Independence into the sixties and eventually they couldn’t stay and ended up back in England. They were very torn because they had so much respect for the people,” she tells Generation Next.

 

In her office, she says most people come in to ask for help for their families and the Constituency office directs people to appropriate offices for service.

 

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Jasmeet Sidhu: Not Afraid to Spark Controversy

Posted on 25 May 2011 by admin

Jasmeet Sidhu

“I think a more interesting question for more young women my age is whether marriage should be an option at all.”

“It’s a bit hard to get engaged when the leaders of all the major national parties are 40+ white men.”

She also thinks that for South Asians to be part of hospital, school and university boards “requires us [the South Asian] to stop the insular tendencies of our communities to only engage with others of the same community. We need to begin to engage and build partnerships with groups in Canada.”

 

Jasmeet Sidhu had made a name for herself at a very young age. She is determined and passionate to the extent that the old fashioned people macho men may call her “stubborn and pig headed.”

She has served at Toronto Star’s Community Board. Her introduction to publication industry came years ago when her mom “was the only woman amongst other men roaming the streets in the middle of the night putting the paper on people’s door steps.”

Like new immigrants, Jasmeet’s mother went through the same immigrant experience. “When we were struggling immigrants in Canada, a job is a job, and income is income,” states Jasmeet in an interview with Generation Next. Traditions such as women should not be doing “men’s job” becomes secondary in such circumstances. Her mother’s work was a lesson for Jasmeet to be self-sufficient.

“I understood that I had to be independent, self-sufficient, and carve my own path in the work world. She also showed me that education is so crucial, especially to succeed in Canada,” she stated. Jasmeet graduated from the University of Toronto with focus on Peace and Conflict Studies.

No wonder she has strong opinions on a range of different issues. Reporting on visible minorities by mainstream media is one of them.

Jasmeet Sidhu

“I wanted to bring my own voice and my own perspective as a young South Asian woman growing up in Canada to Canada’s largest daily newspaper. I have strong opinions on media and how it covers visible minorities, and I wanted to present those views to the editors at the paper,” says Jasmeet about her work at the Star.

Her feeling is that the mainstream media recognizes the significance of growing communities like South Asian and Chinese communities.

“I think all organizations understand that members of the South Asian and Chinese communities are quickly growing in Toronto and they are learning how to adequately reflect this in their coverage – it makes perfect business sense.”

Nonetheless they are struggling on how best to do it. Any time there is a controversial story published in the Star about the South Asian community of the GTA, the general impression in the community is that the mainstream media is out there to sabotage the community.

In Jasmeet’s opinion, “it starts by hiring more members of those communities into their staff. I remember at the Toronto Star sitting in on a news meeting, and all of the senior editors were white. That year, I was only one of the two reporting interns who were members of visible minorities. I think this needs to change, but the onus should also be on our own communities to encourage those who wish to pursue journalism or jobs in the media and communications field, so in the end the most qualified person for the position just happens to be a member of a visible minority.”

She also thinks that for South Asians to be part of hospital, school and university boards “requires us [the South Asian] to stop the insular tendencies of our communities to only engage with others of the same community. We need to begin to engage and build partnerships with groups in Canada. The Sikh Centennial Foundation and their annual gala I’ve found to be a great example of this.”

As South Asian immigrants moved to Canada, some of the problems inherent in South Asia immigrated with them. Domestic violence is one of those issues.

“I do believe domestic violence is still a predominant issue in the community..the day that we don’t need places like the Punjabi Community Health Services, which counsels women and families who may be experiencing domestic violence, then I think we have succeeded as a community,” she tells Generation Next.

Jasmeet is a big believer of the fact that there is “incredible pressure on young people to pursue certain kinds of careers: law, engineering, medicine. But..the great thing about Canada is that you can have a tremendously successful career in alternative careers in the arts, media and communications, entrepreneurship and social causes, because our country really supports the growth of those sectors.”

Sparking yet another controversy related to marriage, Jasmeet opens a Pandora box of opinion on whether marriage is essential for the modern society. On a question whether it would be a love marriage or an arranged marriage for her, she responds “I think a more interesting question for more young women my age is whether marriage should be an option at all. We’re proving to be fiercely independent, economically independent, and breaking the mold and stereotypes about what’s “culturally acceptable” for young women, let alone young women of South Asian descent. I know many young women who don’t’ see marriage as a necessity anymore or the “end goal”.”

The recent federal elections saw a spike in voter turnout as well as youth engagement. As a journalist, Jasmeet is of the view that “I love the drama and the personalities, and more importantly I think it’s critical to follow what our elected officials are doing on our behalf, the direction they are taking the country, and keeping them accountable.”

As far as youth’s political apathy goes “it’s a bit hard to get engaged when the leaders of all the major national parties are 40+ white men. I’m excited for the day when not only more women and more members of visible minorities are a part of politics, but ones that are also eloquent with a clear and inspiring message. I think that will excite a lot of the younger generation. Just look at how Barack Obama electrified youth in the United States,” opines the young lady who has been dubbed as “the sexiest” South Asian female.

In this day and age, when multiculturalism has come under attack, Canada’s most important issue, Jasmeet thinks is multiculturalism.

“Multiculturalism, I think is, something Canada will always struggle with. There will always be those demanding limits to integration and accommodation, sadly due to fear of the unknown. But many people already realize this, but diversity is our strength, and is the reason why Canada has long been admired internationally.”

 

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Baljit Gosal: Yesterday’s Activist, Today’s Minister of State (Sports)

Posted on 25 May 2011 by admin

Minister of State and MP from Bramalea-Gore-Malton

“We’ll do whatever we can to improve it..we will facilitate and work with our partners,” he vowed when asked if there will be any federal dollars invested in these two South Asian sports.

Minister Gosal rejects the notion that the Conservative governments cut programs and services. “It’s always the opposite,” he says. However he also noted that “the governments are always looking to improve.”

MP Gosal is confident that the South Asian values are Conservative values any many swing South Asian voters will come into the Conservative fold. As a Minister, he will be closely listening to people to ensure their needs are heard and addressed.

Mr. Baljit Gosal got a call from Prime Minister’s Office to meet him on May 12th. The meeting was confidential. After half-an-hour’s meeting, MP Gosal was told by the Prime Minister that he will be a new member of the Harper Cabinet. He was to be the Minister of State (Sports).

MP Gosal defeated 17 year-old Liberal veteran in the riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton in the recent federal election. Prime Minister Harper had visited this riding thrice during the election campaign as opposed to NDP and Liberal leader.

Mr. Gosal believes that the reason for his victory is not necessarily the vote split between Liberals and NDP but because “people connected with the Conservative message and the hard work we did. They [people] had seen the Liberal MP for 17 years..and people wanted change.”

And the change they got.

Did Mr. Gosal ever expect to serve as the Minister of State in the Canadian government?

“Not at all,” Mr. Gosal tells Generation Next in an interview at his home in Castlemore, Brampton.  He seemed humble and full of gratitude for what he had accomplished. His family was “very happy, excited and thrilled” for him.

MP Gosal talked about his community engagement at all different levels: municipal, provincial and federal. “I have worked well with the community. I was well-informed” of the issues the community faced.

Mr. Gosal has been involved with Peel Region Police Services Board, the Ontario Film Review Board, the Brampton YMCA Regional Council, the Brampton Board of Trade Marketing Committee, the Treasurer and founding member of Ontario Federation of Sports and Cultural Organization as well as Director and past Secretary & Treasurer of Ontario Khalsa Darbar Sports and Cultural Centre.

Now that there is a South Asian Minister of State Sports, the South Asian community will be expecting investment federal dollars to promote kabbadi and cricket. Mr. Gosal tells us that he has been instrumental in getting fields for kabbadi and cricket in the City of Brampton.

“We’ll do whatever we can to improve it..we will facilitate and work with our partners,” he vowed when asked if there will be any federal dollars invested in these two South Asian sports.

He has already had briefings from his Ministry to be literate in the function of his Ministry. He disregards the notion that the Minister of State is there to be chauffeured around in limo only, suggesting “sports is the vital part of the healthy community..it’s a big portfolio.”

He noted that Pan American Games will be held in Toronto in 2015, then there is 2012 Olympics and the FIFA Female World Cup where Canadian athletes will be performing.

Minister Gosal rejects the notion that the Conservative governments cut programs and services. “It’s always the opposite,” he says. However he also noted that “the governments are always looking to improve.”

The Ontario government is critical of the federal Tory government for cutting $44 million in settlement services for newcomers to Canada. Minister Kenney has given a number of reasons for these “reallocations.”

Minister Gosal defends Minister Jason Kenney’s hard work suggesting that “it doesn’t matter what way you put it” that Canada-Ontario Immigration Act (COIA) was negotiated by the federal Liberal government and now funds are being cuts. The Tory government, he insists, has tripled the settlement funding since 2006.

“The highest number of immigrants came to Canada in 70 years in 2010,” he asserted.

Can the same numbers of immigration be sustained?

“I hope so,” responds Minister Gosal.

During the annual Khalsa Day Parade, Minister Kenney’s speech was continuously interrupted by people who kept asking “what about 1984?” Can there be a disconnect between the governmental circles and the Sikh community. “No,” answers Mr. Gosal.

He cherishes the South Asian community as a community that is very active and engaged politically. Nonetheless, he urges the South Asian community to “listen more..read through the fine print” to better understand the issues.

MP Gosal is confident that the South Asian values are Conservative values any many swing South Asian voters will come into the Conservative fold. As a Minister, he will be closely listening to people to ensure their needs are heard and addressed. Father of two daughters and a son, Mr. Gosal recognizes that the South Asian community expects its youth to be doctors and engineers, he also thinks that it’s changing now as more and more young people look to other career choices at Peel Police and other such professions.

Many people who have to visit MPs office for immigration related matters complain that the staff in-charge of handling immigration related matters is entirely too ignorant of the immigration matters and does not understand the problem.

Minister Gosal says “It all depends on the MP and the staff..a lot of times the staff is going through the training process too.

As of now Minister Gosal is window shopping for a convenient office location and staff members. He is looking for people who are “people persons,” “have a degree in administration,” and “have knowledge of computer.”

For now though, his priority is to focus on Canadian athletes who have been instrumental in winning medals for Canada at home and abroad.

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Osama’s Killing by the US: Gross Failure of Pakistani Military

Posted on 25 May 2011 by admin

One wonders if Pakistan military can really respond in military term to American covert operations or drone attacks by using the aircraft and equipment obtained from the U.S. without taking into account the economic and diplomatic implications of such an action.

The military and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have faced a lot of criticism within Pakistan for their alleged lack of knowledge and inability to respond to American military operation to kill Osma bin Laden.  The Islamic parties made a restrained criticism of the military; they focused more on criticizing the U.S.  However, the PMLN criticized the U.S. as well as the military top brass and the ISI authorities.

The criticism from abroad has raised the spectre of collusion between Pakistan’s army/intelligence authorities and Osama Bin Laden (OBL). The criticism raised three issues: why did not the intelligence agencies know about OBL’s movement or if some officials did know, why didn’t they pass on the information to the relevant higher Pakistani authorities or did OBL enjoy direct and indirect official support?

The domestic criticism has focused on intelligence and security lapses.  It is now clear that OBL stayed in different locations in Pakistan but his movement was not known to the intelligence agencies.  Further, U.S. helicopters were able to defy Pakistan’s air defence system (radars and other aircraft detection systems) managed by the Pakistan Air Force.  Pakistan’s aircraft went up in the air when the U.S. helicopters had gone after spending 2 hours in Pakistan (flying time and ground operation time).  The Pakistan Air Force needs to do some explaining.

The military faced the major thrust of domestic criticism because it dominates Pakistan’s security policy and major areas of foreign policy.  The hesitancy on the part of the civilian government to explain the official position on the Abbottabad incident can be attributed to the fact that the Foreign Office could not take a firm position on its own. The first statement by the Foreign Office was brief and vague. The Foreign Secretary talked to the press with hard hitting rhetoric on May 5 after the army top brass made up their mind about the ways to address the Abbottabad incident. The statements of the Foreign Secretary and the army spokesman after the Corps Commanders’ meeting were overlapping.

The U.S. administration did not realize that its covert operation and a stream of charges against Pakistan military and intelligence establishment had negative implications for Pakistan in the region. This encouraged Afghanistan’s President Karzai to once again accuse Pakistan of harbouing terrorism.  India’s military establishment claimed that they could also launch surgical airstrikes to dismantle terrorist camps in Pakistan.   Naturally, Pakistan’s civilian government and security establishment were extremely angry because the U.S. had, once again, disregarded Pakistan’s regional sensitivities while pursuing its global agenda.

The Army spokesman’s statement that “any similar action  violating the sovereignty of Pakistan will warrant a review of the level of military and intelligence cooperation with the U.S” can be described as a morale booster for the people and an attempt to show that the army authorities could take a tough position vis-à-vis the U.S.   The Foreign Secretary also made several tough comments. One wonders if Pakistan military can really respond in military term to American covert operations or drone attacks by using the aircraft and equipment obtained from the U.S. without taking into account the economic and diplomatic implications of such an action.

Pakistan’s military establishment has developed populist orientations and it invokes emotive nationalism and appeals to Islamist and Political Right circles when it feels that it is under political attack from abroad, threatening its interests and position in Pakistan’s political system.  It invoked these groups and the media in September-October 2009 when the details of the Kerry-Lugar Bill became public. Its contents pertaining to the military and the intelligence agencies were viewed by the military top brass as an attempt by Pakistan’s civilian government to use American law to restrain and malign the military. The Army’s public denunciation of sections of the bill resulted in a massive propaganda campaign against the civilian government and the U.S. in Pakistani media, spearheaded by Islamist and the Far-Right circles.

The Army Chief issued a hard hitting statement on the drone attack in South Waziristan on March 17 which opened the flood gates of condemnation of the drone attack by the civilian leadership and others. (Several drone attacks have taken place since then).   On April 30 the Army Chief employed the discourse of Islamist and Far-Right political circles when he said that “honour would not be traded for prosperity.”  These political circles were happy that the Army Chief was speaking their language in the context of Pakistan’s relations with the U.S.  They have regularly argued that Pakistan’s rulers have sold Pakistan’s self-respect and dignity to get economic assistance from the U.S.

A similar pattern of reliance on highly nationalist and Islamist/political Far-Right discourse is noticeable in the military’s disposition after the Abbottabad incident.  This strategy helps the military to obtain popular support but it becomes a constraint on its capacity to fully go after all extremists and militant groups because the political circles, sought after by the military, extend varying degree of support to militants.

The official circles of the two countries need to move away from the emotional rhetoric in both countries and take up the issues through diplomatic channels.  The U.S. leaders need to avoid public condemnation of Pakistan because this has a destabilizing impact in Pakistan.   Similarly, Pakistan’s official and non-official circles need to tone down highly charged anti-U.S. discourse.

By Dr. Hasan Askari

 

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Tolerance

Posted on 25 May 2011 by admin

At the time I didn’t know it, but in learning about my background I also learned all the things I wasn’t.  Now we were being shown all the ways we were supposedly different.  There was no assignment about how we had grown up together finding all the ways we were the same, that despite the differences we were growing up and being educated in a Canadian society.

 

 

 

As a child I didn’t think about identity, nationality or heritage, all those things that separate us from one another.  Other than skin colour, I didn’t really know that anything else was different about my friends.  It wasn’t until we were taught tolerance that we all began to look at each other differently.

 

In my grade three class most of us were first or second generation Canadian.  We were given an assignment about our backgrounds.  We learned about each others’ languages, cultural garb, religions and holidays.

 

At the time I didn’t know it, but in learning about my background I also learned all the things I wasn’t.  Now we were being shown all the ways we were supposedly different.  There was no assignment about how we had grown up together finding all the ways we were the same, that despite the differences we were growing up and being educated in a Canadian society.

 

It wasn’t long after that my best friend told me I was “Paki,” not that she meant any harm, but it was our way of conforming our eight year minds to what we learned.  She and I worked together to get new best friends because we were tolerant but different.  She was white so we found her a new white best friend and me, a brown one.

 

We all started building cliques with definitions of who fits and who doesn’t.  We were all friends but only those that fit were allowed into the inner circle.  We changed to meet those requirements, even then it wasn’t always enough.

 

Looking back, I wish we never learned the lesson of tolerance because it didn’t teach us acceptance.  It didn’t allow us to be the children we were and still accepted by our heritage and each other.

By Elisa Lochan


 

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Brampton Board of Trade: Helping Immigrant Youth

Posted on 25 May 2011 by admin


With funding provided by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI), the Brampton Board of Trade (BBOT) has launched a one-year project to provide newcomer youth with the opportunity to learn and develop entrepreneurial skills. Youth participants will receive hands -on business training, and will develop business plans under the mentorship of BBOT employer-members.

The project, developed by Dr. Yamil H. Alonso, BBOT- Project Manager, will be part of the MCI Strategic Partnerships Initiatives: Youth Opportunities Pilot Program.

The project caters to immigrant youth aged 16 to 24, who are not attending school, and provides training  covering market research, development of a business plan, start up costs, marketing and advertisement, basic corporate law, HR legislation, accounting and taxation. The program is free of charge, and bus tickets can be provided for travel to the training sessions.

Youth completing the program will be issued a BBOT Certificate of Completion, and the top three business plans will receive incentives for try-out/implementation.

The Global Youth Entrepreneurs project will raise awareness among youth immigrants that becoming an entrepreneur is a realistic and viable career choice, and a path to success.

For more information contact Dr. Yamil H, Alonso at the BBOT office (905) 451-1122 or send e-mail to:  yalonso@bramptonbot.com

 

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