An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IT SHOULDN’T be necessary, in this day and age, for people to stand up and defend refugees and immigrants, to proclaim that those from elsewhere are welcome here. It should be taken for granted. After all, that’s part of our fundamental Canadian values.
But, as it turns out, it is necessary. So our national leaders have been reminding us of it since the murders at the mosque in Quebec. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it an attack on “our most intrinsic and cherished values as Canadians — values of openness, diversity, and freedom of religion.” He stressed that we’re all in this fight “together.”
And perhaps Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard put it best when he said, “I want to tell Muslim Quebecers: you’re at home here, we are all Quebecers.”
Yet when Coun. Arjun Singh puts a sign on his City council desk that says “Proud son of immigrants” and makes a statement of concern about anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment rising since Donald Trump became president of the U.S., he gets accused of playing politics.
“Shame on Arjun Singh for trying to personally gain on pain and misfortunes of others,” wrote one commenter on Kamloops This Week. Others almost unanimously followed suit with similar comments.
How terribly cynical and unkind. Politicians are entitled to express themselves genuinely and sincerely on issues of public interest, and the fact that they’re politicians doesn’t disqualify them from doing so.
In fact, they have a duty to do exactly that. Imagine if our political leaders went into hiding whenever there was a major disaster, injustice or social issue demanding their presence and their voice.
Singh has been elected to lead with his opinions as well as his actions. This “son of immigrants” as he calls himself, has a special interest in the frightening events going on at the national and international levels, and he should be applauded for using his position to speak out about them, not criticized for it.