Letter to the editor: Hyphenating Canadians

A recent headline in the Calgary Sun declared, “In Canada, we're Canadians before all else.”

A recent headline in the Calgary Sun declared, “In Canada, we’re Canadians before all else.”

The article was written by Tarek Fatah, a Conservative contributor to the newspaper’s editorial pages. His point was well taken, decrying as he did the practice of  “hyphenating” Canadians.

Ironically, Stephen Harper himself has been shameless in using Canadian foreign policy to hyphenate Canadians over the past months in his search for leverage in the 2015 federal election.

On his January 2014 $240,000 trip to Israel, he took with him, among others, 10 evangelical pastors, the father of extremist rightwing pundit Ezra Levant, and David Asper, owner of the National Post.

Once there, he visited the Wailing Wall, addressed the Knesset and scanned the plain outside Jerusalem where his evangelical brethren believe Armageddon will take place between the returned Messiah and the anti-Christ.

All this is directed at moving hyphenated Jewish–Canadian electoral and financial support to the Tories from the federal Liberals where much of it has been ensconced for decades.

The Russian intervention in Crimea has also been a heaven-sent opportunity to curry support for the Conservative Party among hyphenated Ukrainian-Canadians. Harper, to that end, has been talking tough, even though he knows that in the world of geo-political reality, there is nothing he can fire at Putin except personal dislike, self-righteous indignation, empty rhetoric and an empty chair at the G-8 summit meetings.

In October 2013, Harper’s refusal to attend the Commonwealth Conference in Sri Lanka was aimed at attracting hyphenated Tamil-Canadian support for election 2015, despite having declared the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to be a terrorist organization in 2006, and freezing their assets at that time.

Perhaps we can now expect him to dispatch foreign minister John Baird to Scotland in September during the Independence Referendum to assure Harper of voting support and political funding from hyphenated Scottish-Canadians.

Probably not, but it would certainly be in accord with his self-serving and cynical view of Canadian foreign policy.

And of Canadians, hyphenated or otherwise.

J.C. Vallance

Fernie, B.C.