EDITORIAL – Here’s why council resolution on racism was needed

City Coun. Arjun Singh filled in for Mayor Peter Milobar at opening ceremonies.

City Coun. Arjun Singh on Canada Day. (ArmchairMayor file photo)

An ArmchairMayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

HOW CAN a statement condemning racism and discrimination cause controversy?

Well, in Kamloops, it’s not that difficult.

Coun, Arjun Singh this week introduced a motion that consisted of a statement by City council opposing all forms of racism and discrimination. It was approved almost without comment by fellow members of council. There’s been more discussion about it outside City Hall than within.

There hasn’t been too much said about the actual contents of the motion, but questions have been raised about why it was needed. At least one radio editorial has been written to the effect that it was a waste of time, and council should stick to business more within its jurisdiction.

So, here’s why Singh’s motion was a good thing. Contrary to those who say its content was self-evident, recent events prove it isn’t. Thousands upon thousands of refugees are still looking for countries to accept them. Immigration is a major topic in the news these days. Nationalism and ethnocentrism are in the air.

Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized in the U.S. Mosques have been burned there, in Africa and Asia.

In Iran, religious minorities including Christians are intimidated, assaulted and persecuted. In Egypt, Coptic Christians have had their churches torched. Remember the Falun Gong in China? People are persecuted for their religion, their skin colour, their sexual orientation, their politics, their ethnic origin.

Canada may be better than most countries at being a place where different people can live together, but it speaks well of us that we take the time to remind ourselves once in a while that we believe social and cultural diversity are assets.

We have our own sorts of intolerance, our own fears of change. A candidate for the leadership of one of Canada’s mainstream parties proposes that anyone wanting to live here should take a test to determine if he or she has “Canadian values.”

We’ve had mosque fires and hate crimes in this country, too.

Kamloops is a highly diverse community, a place of many minorities working together as a majority. There’s no more appropriate place than in the chambers of our local government to re-state our dedication to human rights.

About Mel Rothenburger (5782 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.

12 Comments on EDITORIAL – Here’s why council resolution on racism was needed

  1. CAMILLE B VILLENEUVE // March 6, 2017 at 12:00 PM // Reply

    Who in his right mind would want this to happen here?

  2. tony brumell // March 3, 2017 at 12:00 PM // Reply

    At great risk to my future credibility and with respect I emplore you to look up the word discriminate in the OXFORD dictionary(,You know!!! the one Canadians are supposed to use).I quote “To make or constitute a difference between.”To differentiate. In other words “To make a choice” there is nothing about race colour religion or culture in the definition.
    We make choices all the time and should not be procluded from doing so.Arjuns motion is well meant but the word discriminate must be defined or his motion is “broad” to the point of irrelivancy..Must all of our “freedoms be legislated???(Just saying”)

  3. Let’s see our City council pass this same resolution in Tehran and see how it goes over.
    Women’s rights are non existent there. One set of beliefs exists.
    The beheadings are for real.
    Mr. Singh is living in a dream world called Shangri-La and the other folks on council didn’t dare say anything for fear that would be considered a sign of being “racist”.
    Cam is right on the money with his comments.

  4. George S Duncan // March 3, 2017 at 8:41 AM // Reply

    Liberal-minded people seem to get off on stating the obvious.
    Apparently, they feel they occupy the moral high ground when they publicly declare the nobility of their sentiments.
    Arjun’s motion creates a nice impression but has no more substance than a chalk-coloured sidewalk.
    Canada is facing immigration issues unlike any it has faced in the past, and it’s not from “refugees,” as left-wingers keep saying it is.
    It’s from economic migrants looking for the best welfare opportunities.
    No previous group of immigrants has come here to take advantage of Canada’s generousity.
    They came to work.
    Big difference.

    • Mel Rothenburger // March 3, 2017 at 10:40 AM // Reply

      And yet, only yesterday there was a bomb threat against Muslim students at Concordia University in Montreal, a month after the fatal attack on the mosque in Quebec City. Yesterday’s threat allegedly came from a group calling itself the Council of Conservative Citizens of Canada. It came during Islamic Awareness Week on campus, intended to address misconceptions about the Muslim faith. I’d say we need some reminding.

      • Jennifer // March 3, 2017 at 11:04 AM //

        Mel, its all over the news that the police have arrested a 47 year old man, Hisham Saadi, who is actually a student at the university. He is getting a psychiatric evaluation at present. No fictional hate group involved it seems. In my opinion, all of this political correctness and motions and bills is only bringing out actions by people on the edge. At present people are still thinking Canada stands for free speech and motions to legislate what we say, think and feel, will not go over without negative results. When we came to Canada we were called DPs, Nazis, and a whole string of other not so nice stuff. It was a long time ago, before governments of all kinds got involved condemning racism and before there was the internet and social media to perpetuate the negativity. We ignored it and kept on working and it seems it did not take long for it to stop all on its own.

  5. CAMILLE B VILLENEUVE // March 3, 2017 at 7:55 AM // Reply

    …anyone wanting to live here should take a test to determine if he or she has “Canadian values.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Any sovereign country has the right and the duty to control it;s borders and protect it;s citizens.

    You have to be blind if you can’t see that the present wave of immigrants is not like the previous ones. They are not fleeing a communist regime, it is more like invasion that immigration. Just look at what they have done in Europe. Sweden adopted a policy of suicidal empathy, now they are paying the price; being overrun with people who refuse to integrate, obey the country’s laws and respect its citizens. Do you want to see Sharia law implemented here? Most Canadians don’t, and are worried about it.

    How long do you think it will be before we see street demonstrations with signs saying that “Islam will dominate the world”? It has already happened almost everywhere else.

  6. It sure was not much of a waste of time since it quickly passed. However it is fair to ask, in my opinion, is it going to change anything, have an impact, became some sort of legacy? And on that thought council time should be spent discussing ideas and options more pertinent to the betterment of the city…including the downtown, snow removal and the “piling of matter” at the lagoon just to name three…

  7. John Paul Winston // March 3, 2017 at 4:28 AM // Reply

    Mel … PLEASE stop this.

    You are right. It does no harm, it just does nothing at all – but once again draw attention to Arjun Singh, who loves to get attention by talking about something without actually doing something. He’s done it again, and you are aiding and abetting it. AGAIN.

    This stupid resolution is akin to council passing a resolution against sexual assault. After all, that’s an important thing, too. Nothing wrong with reminding us all about our responsibilities in this regard, too. In fact, it affects us all more frequently and personally than hate crimes in the US or Eastern Canada.

    When I hear about this stupid motion and your inane defence of it I can hear my late mother’s voice saying, “If I have to remind you to mind your manners, I don’t get any satisfaction from it when you do,”


    • Yes, the armchair mayor has never written anything critical about this person, despite plenty of instances where critique would have beign totally appropriate.
      Almost as if he is getting paid to do it…

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