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.