EDITORIAL – Coun. Singh deserves praise for speaking out on immigrants

Council speaking with Byron McCorkell.

Coun. Arjun Singh, at right.

An 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.


About Mel Rothenburger (5538 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Coun. Singh deserves praise for speaking out on immigrants

  1. Singh wasn’t criticized for speaking out on the plight of Muslims or immigrants, he was criticized for – once again – using an issue to bring attention to himself.

    If you are going to criticize the critics, at least get your facts right.

    • Mel Rothenburger // February 8, 2017 at 4:10 PM // Reply

      I thought I was clear in saying that as a community leader, especially as a son of immigrants, he has a right and even a duty to speak up about such issues.

  2. As a hard-working immigrant with a strong back and even stronger resolve I have a very tough time supporting dithering Mr. Singh.

  3. Both sets of my grandparents were European immigrants to North America. One set I never knew; my grandfather died before I was born and my grandmother died when I was very young and I don’t remember her.
    None of them taught at a residential school but their generation had people who did. In fact, the residential school in Kamloops was not closed until well after the damage had been done to indigenous Canadians.
    That blood on our hands does not want me to go out and wave a flag that I am a descendent of the European settlers who came to North America. My skin colour shows it.
    Our borders should not be “Trumped” with a broad paint brush that covers both the loving and the hating people who desire to come and live amongst others who are here.
    But, I am cautious and do not want to use the broad brush of “total trust” either.

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