The Mail

The Mail

March 6 2000
The Mail

The Mail

March 6 2000

The Mail

Sikhs and stereotypes

I am appalled by your article “Sikh power” (Cover, Feb. 21). How do you lump together 400,000 complex and

dynamic Canadians with varying interests and associations, and argue they are “flexing” their “muscle” even as they try to “shed a legacy of violence”? The article elevates Sikhs in the eyes of other Canadians simply to then put them down. In one sentence we are a “powerful,” “potent” force to be reckoned with; in the next we are “vociferous,” “fractious” and have

links to “terrorist activity.” In other words, Sikhs are troublemakers. I’ll applaud the authors only if they now write an equally massive story on white power in Canada. Maybe they can talk about English Canadas legacy of violence and paternalism with respect to its aboriginal population.

Narinder K. Brar, Ottawa

Last year, the Canadian government commemorated 100 years of Sikh presence in this country by issuing a Sikh stamp. The Prime Minister pointed out that Canada was the only country in the Western world to have a Sikh cabinet

minister and a turbanned member of Parliament. Despite these strides, you succumb to the media’s temptation for racial stereotyping. In the past 100 years in Canada, only the last 15 have seen

occasional incidents of violence among Sikhs, possibly no more than by any other significant community in Canada.

Suresh Bhalla, Toronto

Your cover story

shows how new Canadians are integrating in our multicultural society. The continuing metamorphosis of Canadian Sikhs has evolved over a century; it wasn’t an easy ride. They were

subjected to bigotry and prejudice at every level of Canadian society. Like other minorities they have demonstrated that they need not abandon their heritage or identity in order to be good Canadians. Your otherwise excellent coverage neglected to mention the enormous contribution being made daily by the Sikhs and other Indo-Canadian entrepreneurs across Canada.

Tej Pal S. Thind, President, Canada-lndla Chamber of Commerce, Montreal

When I finished reading, I did not feel empowered as a Sikh, I felt as though violence and terrorism were my legacy. It was also disappointing to see that the only important female Sikh you could find, besides Monika Deol, was Guru Raj Kaur Khalsa who is not of Indian descent (“An ardent adherent to Sikhism”).

Rather than laud the contributions of Sikhs to the enlargement of Canadian

Border security

The column “Unwanted attention” (Andrew Phillips, Feb. 14) correctly reported that Americans’ perceptions of our northern border has changed. It is an increasingly dangerous place for citizens of both our countries due to drug and alien smugglers, and terrorists. But the column neglected to mention the technology that is becoming available to implement new border security checks in a way that does not significandy disrupt trade, tourism or other legitimate cross-border traffic. Mutual problems call out for mutual solutions. The United States and Canada can address both border security concerns and the need for expedited legitimate crossings.

Lamar Smith, Member of Congress for the 21st District (Texas), Washington

identity and politics, as your pictures of prominent Sikhs would have us believe, you turn to describing the “Sikh menace” to Canadian society. How typical of the established-order media to discredit and resist real change.

Luis L.M. Aguiar, Professor of Race and Ethnic Relations, Okanagan University College, Kelowna, B.C.

The byzantine mixture of politics, religion and terrorism that you described in your article is very frightening. If it is true (and I hope it is not) then this is not the British Columbia I moved to over 30 years ago.

Ken Higson, Kelowna, B.C.

The best and worst

Regarding Robert Lewis’s editorial “Why Canada needs more doctors” (Feb. 7), I am a second-year nursing student in Saskatoon and I am having a hard time justifying staying in Canada after I graduate. With many nurses in Canada working part time, median annual earnings have declined from $36,876 in 1988 to $31,200 in 1997. When will the different levels of government realize that they have made a mistake implementing all the funding cuts to both health care and to educating future health-care professionals? Until they start to make Canada an attractive place for future graduates to work, the future of health care in Canada looks bleak.

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Trevor Wagenaar, Saskatoon

Lately we’ve seen, read and heard nothing but negatives about our Canadian health-care system. So, when a young driver broadsided my wife’s car at 60 clicks on Jan. 11, we were conditioned to expect the worst. Instead, we got the best. We would give a gold star to everyone who helped her through this horrible event. The fire and rescue people who freed her from the car. The paramedics who even slipped her treasured necklace into her purse. The tow truck driver who secured other valuables from the wreck. The emergency staff at Royal Columbia Hospital. The government insurance claims people. Our family doctor and physiotherapist. She has enjoyed the finest of care. Many Canadian friends have told me stories of similar fine treatment. Every American I’ve talked to, however, relates tales of litigation before rehabilitation.

John 0. Madsen, Coquitlam, B.C.

Not up to standard

Again, Madame Amiel sounds like the only sane person in a crazy world (“Give Haider a break,” Feb. 21). I have no sympathy for Austria’s Freedom Party Leader Jörg Haider and he will most likely be an embarrassment for Austria. But before Canada puts Austria on probation, should we not consider this: do the Austrians have the right to elect anyone they want in democratic elections? Or should democracy go in the trash if the person running for office is not up to North American or European Union standards?

Kersti Jakobsson, Grand Forks, B.C.

One of these days, Barbara Amiel is going to surprise me. One of these days, she is going to write that despite a person’s right-wing stance, their animal-

like behaviour and ideas make them repulsive and she is going to admit that not all circumstances can be gauged on a right-versus-left political scale. One day, Barbara Amiel will have an idea that isn’t boringly predictable from everything she has written before—but I’m not holding my breath.

Peter Timonin, Ottawa

Warming alternative

You did not mention atomic energy as a means to meet the Kyoto commitment on global warming (“The heat is on,” Special Report/Climate, Feb. 21). Now that we have developed substantially all of our hydroelectric resources, this is the only reasonable non-polluting solution. Solar and wind power will never be more than minor contributors. Fuel cells use hydrogen to produce electricity (and water vapour), but almost all hydrogen is derived from hydrocarbons, with the collateral release of carbon dioxide.

John Blanchard, Kingston, Ont.

So, we have a new dragon to replace Y2K—global warming. Charles Darwin reported tropical plant fossils in strange places, Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen also found them in Antarctica. It could simply be the natural cycle of events.

Roy Parrett, Victoria

Way too deep

It’s encouraging that Allan Fotheringham still possesses his legendary abilities as a newsman in locating Canadian director Norman Jewison and his wife on their patio in Malibu, Calif. (“Waiting for Oscar,” Feb. 21). And then Dr. Foth, digging even further, informs us that “Burgess Meredith is four doors down.” So, can we conclude that the Jewisons live beside the Malibu cemetery, given that Meredith, the Penguin in TV’s classic Batman series, died in 1997?

Eric Bender, Kirkland, Que.