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article imageOp-Ed: Vaisakhi Day controversy continues to make waves in Surrey, B.C.

By Hans Smedbol     Apr 26, 2010 in World
Surrey - The recent furor in Surrey over the Vaisakhi Parade represents the surface of a thorny problem for local as well as provincial and federal governments. It is a question of immigration politics, and safety, as well as policing, and respect for our laws.
The Vaisakhi Day Parade, in Surrey, B.C., which both Joseph Boltrukiewicz and this reporter covered from slightly different angles, is a good sign of a political problem which will just not go away for Surrey, for B.C. and for Canada.
Every year this comes up, and every year there is anxiety in governments over what to do about the extremist members of the Sikh community in Canada. People have spoken out against their activities, such as David Hayer's father, who was assassinated for his efforts, by the same warrior folks, who were espousing total war with India, in their continuing ambitions to split off a part of the Punjab into a religious homeland, Khalistan, where only Sikhs would live under Sikh religious rule. Ujjal Dosanjh got a severe dose of their "shut-up" medicine too, when he spoke against the violent tendencies of this group, and the April 24th edition of the Vancouver Sun tells of a very recent further threat to Mr. Dosanjh's life, through a Facebook entry, which was put up by the extremists, and which advocated shooting Mr. Dosanjh. The Facebook entry was detected on Thursday, and the news brought to Mr. Dosanjh in the middle of a meeting of the Standing Committee on National Defense. He insisted that he will not be cowed by these threats.
Whether people espouse these extreme actions or not is not such a big deal, (although illegal, when uttering threats against someone's life) unless they go further, to take action upon their ideas, and carry out the murder, mayhem, and planting of homemade IED's, of which some of these "martyrs" are accused. In Canada and India, at least, most of those faces on the "martyrs" float represented the faces of Terrorism, as well as illegally constituted organisations devised to pursue objectives of terror. Thus those faces represent at the very least a "challenge" to the forces of law and order, here in B.C. and in Ottawa as well.
Just because we are not currently the primary target of these terrorists does not make it OK that they continue to operate out of our country, with seeming impunity. Out of all the "persons of interest" who were investigated in relation to the Air India tragedy, only one has served any time whatever, and will likely get out of jail in the not too distant future. This is a travesty of justice, when so many innocent men women and children died on that airplane, just to establish the reputations of a few overly arrogant extremist Sikh Terrorists.
That the extremists are still operating, and in "charge" of the Sikh community through fear and intimidation is clearly indicated both by the non invitations to the parade for Mr. Dosanjh and Mr. Hayer, as well as the impudence of allowing the "martyrs" float to take part in the parade despite assurances to the contrary. Now the Facebook threat against Mr. Dosanjh's life, merely for speaking out against their violent tactics puts the cap on the whole business. These folks are not going away any time soon, nor quietly at that.
After years of investigation and a steady attrition of witnesses, what with death and torture being very good methods of discouraging witnesses, the two "masterminds" who were charged in the Air India Bombing got clean away. They got clean away because allegedly, many former witnesses suddenly couldn't remember any thing....and proved useless on the stand. Others simply refused to appear, and some were excused by sudden death. What's a police force to do?
What's the Crown prosecutor to do? How about a viable, strong, well protected witness protection program, so that folks can disappear out of sight after testifying, although that might not work so well with Sikhs, as family is so important. They would be reluctant to abandon their community too, i suspect.
As it is today, it seems clear that these folks, the extremists, are laughing at us for our weak ways, our ineffective police force, and even less effective Crown Counsel. They skirt on the very border between acceptable, and disallowed, promoting traditional Sikh family values, with the public parade, while at the same time, sending a little reminder to one and all, just who is really in charge of the Sikh community. It's not clear that these messages are also aimed at our Police forces as well as Governmental agencies (although i believe that they are aimed at those agencies), but they are out in the open, where anyone with eyes can see them and criticise them. The fact that they continue to dare to promote these ideas more or less openly through such "martyr" floats, tells us that they do not pay any attention whatever to the rules in the new country, where the laws prohibit glorification of Terrorists, Terror, and supporting the same. Really the promoters of that parade should be arrested for promoting hate crimes, and terrorism, for glorifying assassins and terrorists, for tainting the parade with the odour of their sanctimonious terroristic militarism, rather like Hamas and other banned Islamic organisations.
As I said in a previous opinion piece, there really is no room in Canada for this kind of behaviour. There is no room for militant fundamentalists of any kind whatever, unless they strictly keep to themselves, and do not commit crimes against others, such as murder and mayhem, not to mention the inevitable, planting of IED's. Folks that are known to be doing those kinds of behaviours, i repeat, should be arrested under some kind of security certificate, like what was used for Islamic fundamentalist suspected terrorists, and incarcerated until investigated thoroughly, and if proven guilty, they should have to face an immigration trial for fraudulently presenting themselves as harmless refugees, when they first came to Canada, and then they should have their citizenship stripped for the same reason, and they should be deported to India, (or somewhere else if they are wanted there), where they can pursue their extremist values to their hearts' content!! Terrorists should not have been allowed into the country to begin with, and if immigrants are discovered to be acting in terroristic ways, they should be removed immediately from the country. This goes for whatever nationality it might apply to, not just the extremist Sikhs.
In the view of most Canadians, as far as I know, (being one), immigrants are most welcome to come here to Canada. We need immigrants and we should be happy to see them coming. Immigrants represent a lot of the future of Canada. However, we must be careful about who we allow to enter. Not only well-educated, well trained folks, as well as refugees should be allowed to come. Most Canadians would not be able to get into the country under current immigration standards for would be citizens. I can't say that I would even pass the test for people seeking citizenship. Perhaps I don't know some of the things that they think are important. I do know that if i were say, American, and i wanted to immigrate into Canada, that i may not be allowed in now, as i'm too old and not a real catch in the "skills" department.
When it comes to refugees, we welcome them too, with open arms, provided they are not war criminals, or common criminals, provided that they don't beat their wives, or daughters, or conspire with each other to blow up public places.
Our immigration department works very hard in attempting to screen out the troublemakers, I know, but still a few always manage to get through. I think that more effort needs to be given to checking out whether people are known terrorists or not, and that we should not be giving them permanent resident cards too easily if there is some suspicion of nefarious activities in the homeland. They should not be given a free pass, just because they are in danger of prosecution, arrest, detention and even death in their own land from their activities there, unless they were being unjustly persecuted by the local authorities. If they were pursuing terroristic, rebellious activities, to merit detention and even death sentences in their homeland, this is not a reason to allow them to stay here as "refugees".
The refugees allowed to stay in this country should really be refugees, and not criminals seeking to evade legitimate arrest at home. And then even if they are allowed to stay, if they commence to behave as terrorists, or even just common criminals, then it's arrest, immigration hearing, possible loss of citizenship, and deportation.
Immigrants have the possibility of entirely remaking and reinventing their lives when they come to a new country like Canada. Unfortunately in this writer's opinion, the ideas of multiculturalism in this country, may have contributed somewhat to ghetto-ised culture collectives, which are apparent in the larger cities, where you find different sections of town being inhabited by different nationalities of origin. Also this multiculturalism idea, while welcoming everyone from everywhere, has also allowed (as said previously) some darker elements to insidiously sneak in under the radar, so to speak, under the "umbrella" of cultural "sensitivity", wherein, no one would dare to comment on whether a person might wear a turban, or burka, or whatever (except the very rude among us of course). The debate is not really about what people might like to wear, or do, or eat, but rather how they might behave with each other, and with us, whom they have come to stay with, in their new country. To decide just how far culture goes when it comes to certain traditional items, such as the Sikh emblems, and the Islamic ones, like Burka, or niqab, which are really expressions of Arabic traditional tribal culture, rather than commands of the Qu'ran, is a sensitive, and yet, i believe, an attainable goal.
Other countries don't make excuses for their laws, and their customs. They just say: "this is what we do, and if you wish to live here, now you will do the same." If you don't agree, you don't immigrate into these countries. Or if you do immigrate and make a mistake, oh well, you suffer the consequences. And yet in Canada, in some quarters, we have been negotiating and discussing the advisability of allowing the introduction of Sharia law for Islamic folks living in Canada. In my view this is definitely taking multi-culturalism too far, way too far. In our country there should be one law for all Canadians, no matter what their birth nationality may have been.
In summation, if we do not want these extremists to continue laughing at us, for our perceived weaknesses in enforcing justice, and protecting ourselves, and especially protecting witnesses, then we are going to have to make some revisions in our approaches to law enforcement, and immigration, with respect to Terrorists and Thugs, who do not respect our laws, nor do they follow them. They abuse the refugee system to get into the country, and then continue to abuse the system for years on end, through intimidation and violence, pretending to be ideal citizens while promoting death and violence overseas, and at home if you dare to disagree publicly with them.
The "martyrs" float at the Vaisakhi Day Parade represented this school of thought. The folks who put this float on despite their claims to the contrary to Mayor Watts, were thumbing their noses at her, Premier Campbell, Ujjal Dosanjh, and David Hayer, not to mention the Immigration Minister, and the entire Government of Canada, as well as the RCMP and CSIS, what to say of the rest of us, most of us innocently enjoying the panoply of colour and sound, smells, and tastes. For us, who cannot read the writing on the float, the "Khalistani martyrs" float is a relatively unimportant, minor part of the parade, if we even notice the float.
For those, however, who know what that float really represents in blood, and fundamentalism, extremist politics, and endless warfare with India, simply a glimpse of it suffices to remind one of the dark undercurrents of terrorism, fear, intimidation, violence and murder, perpetrated by those who put that float into the parade. Those of us who do know, would rather see that brand of extremism disappear quietly into the sunset, and we remain alarmed that they have not disappeared, nor are they about to disappear. Instead they are quietly, intimidatingly, on Facebook, threatening the life of our former Premier, Ujjal Dosanjh, condemning him as a "Sikh traitor" and simply advising: ""Someone shoot him - ASAP,'' wrote one of the Facebook group's members before the entry was deleted. Another wrote it ``would be more appropriate to pierce him with bullets, not compassion.''
Members of the group accuse the former federal cabinet minister of ``betraying his own people'' and being ``an insult to the Sikh religion'' for his viewpoints on the Khalistan movement.", says the Vancouver Sun.
In this writer's opinion, the people who put that notice up on Facebook, and those who made threatening comments there should be arrested and charged with uttering a threat against Mr. Dosanjh's life. It is high time that we show these extremists that this kind of behaviour simply will not do in Canada.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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