U.S., Australia have ‘very strong’ relationship despite reports of tense phone call

A reminder that despite all the preparations and efforts by the Canadian government to meet the Trump challenge, there is a high degree of unpredictability at play, and a real challenge for the first Trump-Trudeau meeting:

Australia’s prime minister said his country’s relationship with the United States remained “very strong” but refused to comment on a newspaper report on Thursday that an angry President Donald Trump cut short their first telephone call as national leaders.

At the heart of the weekend conversation between Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was a deal struck with the Obama administration that would allow mostly Muslim refugees rejected by Australia to be resettled in the United States.

Turnbull declined to comment on reports in The Washington Post that Trump had described the agreement as “the worst deal ever” and accused Turnbull of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.”

The Boston Bombers refer to Tamerlan and Dhozkar Tsarnaev, U.S. citizens born in Kyrgyzstan, who set off two bombs at the 2013 Boston marathon, killing three and injuring more than 260 people.

Turnbull also would not say whether Trump had abruptly ended the expected hour-long conversation after 25 minutes as the Australian attempted to steer the conversation to other topics.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wouldn’t go into details about his phone call with the U.S. president, only saying ‘I can assure you the relationship is very strong.’ (David Gray/Reuters)

“It’s better that these things — these conversations — are conducted candidly, frankly, privately,” Turnbull told reporters.

Turnbull said the strength of the bilateral relation was evident in that Trump agreed to honour the agreement to resettle refugees from among around 1,600 asylum seekers, most of whom are on island camps on the Pacific nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Australia has refused to accept them and instead pays for them to be housed on the impoverished islands.

“I can assure you the relationship is very strong,” Turnbull said. “The fact we received the assurance that we did, the fact that it was confirmed, the very extensive engagement we have with the new administration underlines the closeness of the alliance. But as Australians know me very well: I stand up for Australia in every forum — public or private.”

Hours after the Washington Post story was published — and after Turnbull’s comments — Trump took to Twitter to slam the deal.

“Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why?” Trump tweeted. “I will study this dumb deal!”

Source: U.S., Australia have ‘very strong’ relationship despite reports of tense phone call – World – CBC News

More people should engage in politics so ‘no party gets to run against Muslim Canadians,’ Justin Trudeau says

Pitch perfect:

Galloway asked the prime minister for his reaction to the proposal to screen immigrants for “anti-Canadian values” put forward by federal Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch.

Trudeau did not address Leitch by name. He said he told a group of Muslim-Canadians during a recent meeting that he was happy to have them as supporters. However, he said he suggested they encourage family members and friends to also get involved in politics, whether on behalf of the Liberals or another party that aligns with their values.

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“The other two political parties have leadership races on now. I’d like to see more Canadians of diverse backgrounds engaging with parties that line up with their convictions and ideologies to make sure that no party gets to run against Muslim Canadians or any other group of Canadians and demonize them,” Trudeau said.

“And I think the way we do that is getting involved in the whole breadth of the political spectrum in Canada. I’m happy when people decide they are more aligned with me and my party, but they should also think about being active and aligned with parties that disagree with me on certain issues.”

Galloway also asked the prime minister about how his policy, which has brought more than 35,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in just over a year, contrasts with that of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump and some politicians across Europe, who advocate for a more closed approach on refugees.

“I’m not going to answer whys,” he said. “I’m just going to continue to point out the facts that the way Canada is benefiting from welcoming in people who are so deeply committed to living up to the opportunity given to them.”

He added, “I challenge any one of those governments or those citizens to sit down around a table like this and break bread and not be afraid of the other.”

Source: More people should engage in politics so ‘no party gets to run against Muslim Canadians,’ Justin Trudeau says – CBC.ca | Metro Morning

Influential Chinese-Canadians paying to attend private fundraisers with Trudeau [investor immigrant angle]

Sigh … One of the better initiatives of the Conservative government was shutting down the business immigrant program after evaluations showed just how flawed it was and just how few benefits it provided Canadians.

And of course the broader ethical issue of such fundraising – paying for access – remains:

Mr. Chan was at the most recent Trudeau fundraiser, which was held on Nov. 7 at the West Vancouver mansion of B.C. developer Miaofei Pan, a multimillionaire from Wenzhou province who immigrated to Canada a decade ago. More than 80 guests got their pictures taken with Mr. Trudeau at the $1,500 per ticket event, including Mr. Chan.

Mr. Pan told The Globe and Mail he lobbied the Prime Minister to make it easier for well-heeled investors from China to come to Canada. He said he told Mr. Trudeau the program put in place by the former Conservative government was “too harsh.”

In exchange for permanent residency, rich immigrants must invest $2-million and are subject to strict audits.

“If they don’t do business over two years here, they cannot stay or they have to leave the country. So I wanted the Prime Minister to know that is not a very merciful policy towards these people because they want to invest or stay,” Mr. Pan said. “It’s all about investment that Canada needs. I have friends, and [they are] wealthy people, who want to stay and invest.”

A Chinese government agency in Mr. Pan’s hometown that builds ties with and keeps tabs on expatriate Chinese, supplied photos of the Trudeau-Pan event to media in China. The Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the Wenzhou People’s Government promotes China’s interests abroad, according to former Canadian diplomat and China expert Charles Burton.

“That is an agency of the Chinese Communist Party,” Mr. Burton told The Globe and Mail. “The fact that the photos appeared in the [Wenzhou Metropolis Daily] in China suggests that the people who participated in that activity must have been tasked by the Chinese state to try and promote the Chinese position with influential people in Canada. In this case, our Prime Minister.”

Mr. Pan is honorary chair of a Chinese-Canadian organization that is an unabashed backer of Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

In 2012, he was part of a campaign by overseas Chinese groups to rally public support for the Chinese government’s position in a dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea that are close to key shipping lanes, bountiful fishing grounds and possible petroleum reserves.

That year, Mr. Pan was quoted in the Macau Daily newspaper saying his organization, the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations, had “declared its stand in newspapers” and that “overseas Chinese were responsible for defending China’s territorial integrity.”

In 2015, the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations held a symposium at which speakers backed Beijing’s assertion of title to islands, reefs and banks in the South China Sea, and issued a statement saying it “strongly supports the Chinese government’s defence of sovereignty over the South China Sea.”

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Liberal Party kept the Nov. 7 fundraiser confidential. Neither the PMO nor the party website noted the event. At the time, Mr. Trudeau was in Vancouver to announce a new marine strategy.

“The party has … been clear that not every event is on the party’s national website, while it’s important to note that the Liberal Party of Canada is still the only major federal political party that maintains an active online events listing in any form at all,” party spokesman Braeden Caley said in an e-mail. “All fundraising by the Liberal Party of Canada fully complies with all Elections Canada rules and regulations for political fundraising.”

The Liberal Party would not provide The Globe and Mail with a list of attendees. Mr. Pan said all the guests were his friends, and all are Canadian citizens.

Source: Influential Chinese-Canadians paying to attend private fundraisers with Trudeau – The Globe and Mail

Canadians cannot be overly impatient with integration of immigrants, Justin Trudeau says

Worth noting the PM’s understanding of the integration process:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used the example of Italian grandmothers in Montreal on Thursday to explain why Canadians shouldn’t be “overly impatient” with the integration of newcomers.

Being fearful of immigrants is “nothing new” in Canada and around the world, he said, explaining that Italians and Greeks settling in Montreal in the 1950s faced similar kinds of discrimination as do Muslims and other immigrants today.

“The first generation is always going to have challenges in integrating,” Trudeau said during a panel discussion with London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

“There are districts (in Montreal) where Italian grandmothers still pretty much only speak Italian and don’t speak that much French or English. But their kids and grandkids are seamlessly and completely integrated into Montreal and the only difference is they tend to be trilingual and not just bilingual.”

The prime minister was taking part in a day-long conference hosted by Canada 2020, which describes itself as a progressive think-tank.

Asked by the panel moderator what can be done to reduce fear of and discrimination against newcomers, Trudeau replied that what’s happening in Canada and around the world is “nothing new.”

Italians, Greeks faced ‘tremendous distrust’

Italians and Greeks who settled in the northern part of Montreal and in other Canadian cities “faced tremendous discrimination, tremendous distrust.”

“This country didn’t happen by accident,” Trudeau continued. “And it won’t continue without effort. When we think about integration and success we can’t be overly impatient.”

He said citizens should “keep a solid pressure” to ensure human rights and the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms are respected by all Canadians.

Trudeau also referred to his time visiting places of worship around the country such as mosques and temples.

He was recently criticized online and in some Canadian media for visiting a mosque in Ottawa where women and men were kept separate.

Engage with all communities, Trudeau says

The prime minister said Canadians should engage with all communities.

“The question is, do you engage or participate or say ‘I’m not going to talk to you until you hit the norm or the perfect ideal that we all aspire to’,” he said. “I think (the latter) is wrong.”

Khan said Canada “has become a beacon of how a civilized G7 country should treat those who are vulnerable and need help.”

He also praised Trudeau for his “progressive” politics and said the prime minister’s election in October 2015 inspired him.

Source: Canadians cannot be overly impatient with integration of immigrants, Justin Trudeau says – Montreal – CBC News

‘Feminist’ Trudeau under attack for attending gender-segregated event at Ottawa mosque

Awkward. Valid to raise questions about appropriateness.

While in general, always better to engage and be present, PMO needs to think more about the guidelines when accepting such invitations or choosing locations. Respect should be mutual, while I can understand women MPs covering their hair as a sign of respect, the mosque should have allowed the women MPs to enter by the front door, not the side door, equally as a sign of respect.

And that would allow the PM to support those within Muslim communities who wish for more egalitarian mosques:

Canada’s self-styled feminist prime minister was praised Tuesday by one of the world’s most powerful women for his commitment to gender equality even as he was taking it on the chin from other women for appearing at a gender-segregated event the previous day.

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde told reporters at a Parliament Hill news conference she was “appreciative” of Trudeau’s commitment to a government that was “gender-equal.” Trudeau had just told Lagarde the next Canadian representative to the IMF would be a woman, a first for the country.

Yet, Trudeau’s appearance Monday morning at a gender-segregated mosque in Ottawa brought criticism from some of the same women who had admired his work toward gender equality.

 “Right now we have these political leaders — ironically, politically liberal leaders — who are just putting blinders on their eyes about their values,” Asra Nomani said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C. Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who describes herself as a liberal, is the author of Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam.

“That’s the big differential for liberals, they fancy themselves as honouring the women’s body and yet the segregation by its very definition hyper-sexualizes women’s bodies. That’s the great irony.”

 Trudeau was at the mosque Monday to mark Eid al-Adha, considered the holiest of feast days for the world’s Muslims. Three female MPs accompanied Trudeau during his brief remarks, though they had to arrive by a side door and stand with their heads covered. They did not address the mosque.

Worshippers at the mosque are separated by gender. Men were on the main floor where Trudeau spoke. Women and girls were in a balcony or in other parts of the mosque. Nomani said that recent surveys indicate about two of every three mosques separate men from women, but that is up from a decade ago when only about half did.

“I will meet with Canadians regardless of where they are in Canada,” Trudeau told reporters Monday afternoon. “I will speak to inclusive growth, help for the middle class. I will talk about gender equality. I will talk about the rights of the LGBT community. We will continue to promote the values which bring us together.”

Source: ‘Feminist’ Trudeau under attack for attending gender-segregated event at Ottawa mosque | National Post

Port du burkini: un débat futile, selon Trudeau

Not covered in English media unless I missed it: PM Trudeau’s comments on the burkini debate in Quebec, framing diversity as not merely as tolerance but rather as “acceptance, openness, friendship and understanding:”

Le premier ministre Justin Trudeau juge futile le débat qui commence à faire rage au Québec sur le port du burkini à la plage.

À l’instar du premier ministre du Québec Philippe Couillard, la semaine dernière, M. Trudeau cachait mal son irritation lundi, à l’issue d’une retraite de deux jours de son cabinet à Sudbury, de voir que certains tentent de lancer un tel débat au pays.

«Il y a des pays dans le monde où la tolérance serait essentielle. (…)  Mais je pense qu’au Canada, on devrait être rendu au-delà de la tolérance. Tolérer quelqu’un, c’est accepter qu’ils aient le droit d’exister, mais à condition qu’ils ne viennent pas nous déranger trop, trop chez-nous, là », a d’abord déclaré M. Trudeau au cours d’une conférence de presse.

« Au Canada, est-ce qu’on pourrait pas parler d’acceptation, d’ouverture, d’amitié, de compréhension ? C’est vers là que nous allons et c’est ce que l’on est en train de vivre à tous les jours quand on voit nos communautés diverses et riches, pas en dépit de leurs différences, mais bien grâce à ces différences », a ajouté le M. Trudeau.

En France, des municipalités ont décidé d’interdire le port du burkini à la plage, provoquant un vif débat en Europe sur le respect des droits de la personne. Ce débat a eu des échos au Québec, notamment à l’Assemblée nationale, où la Coalition avenir Québec a pressé le gouvernement de Philippe Couillard d’emboîter le pas aux municipalités françaises qui ont choisir d’interdire ce vêtement de plage.

 Vendredi dernier, le premier ministre Philippe Couillard a opposé une fin de non recevoir catégorique à cette demande de la CAQ. « «Je ne peux pas croire qu’on en est là», a laissé tomber M. Couillard.«L’État n’a rien à voir avec la façon [dont] les femmes se vêtent sur les plages».

Devant les journalistes, lundi, M. Trudeau a rappelé aux élus, peu importe où ils siègent, qu’ils ont le devoir d’élever le débat public et de s’assurer de respecter les droits de la personne.

« Oui, il va y avoir des petites controverses ici et là comme toujours. Mais pour moi le respect des droits et des choix des individus doit occuper la première place dans notre discours et dans nos débats », a affirmé M. Trudeau, a-t-il dit.

Justin Trudeau to apologize for historic persecution of gay Canadians

Working the way through the needed apology list:

As early as this autumn, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will apologize on behalf of all Canadians to those who were imprisoned, fired from their jobs or otherwise persecuted in the past because of their sexuality.

That apology is a key element in a broad range of reforms that will collectively represent one of the greatest advances for sexual minorities in Canada’s history.

“This is a long-awaited moment and a very emotional moment, to be honest,” said Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale, a national organization that advocates for the rights of sexual minorities. “For the government to recognize the damage that it caused, the harm that it caused, to thousands and thousands of Canadians is a historic moment for our communities.”

The Globe and Mail has learned of the planned reforms from numerous sources within and outside the government.

In essence, the Liberals have decided to act on most or all of the recommendations of The Just Society, a report submitted to the government in June by Egale. The title refers to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s program for rights protection and social reform.

Those recommendations include:

  • Apologizing to people who were convicted of gross indecency for committing homosexual acts in the years before 1969, when same-sex acts between consensual adults were decriminalized. Those convictions will be pardoned, expunged or in some other fashion stricken from the records of those convicted;
  • Apologizing to those who were dismissed from the public service, discharged from the military or otherwise discriminated against in government work because they were homosexual. It was only in the 1990s that the federal government ceased efforts to identify and expel homosexuals in the military;
  • Eliminating the difference in the age of consent for sexual acts. The current age of consent is 16, but it is 18 for anal intercourse, which discriminates against and stigmatizes young homosexuals.
  • Examining whether and how to compensate those who suffered past discrimination because of who they were or whom they loved. This could involve individual compensation and/or funding for programs or services;
  • Requiring all police officers or others who work in the justice system to receive human-rights training, with an emphasis on the historic wrong of treating members of sexual minorities as criminals and on the current bias that all too often still exists;
  • Providing similar training to Customs officials, who still are more likely to ban homosexual materials from crossing the border, while permitting their heterosexual equivalents;
  • Implementing procedures to protect the dignity of transgender or intersex persons in prisons or jails;
  • Eliminating laws, such as keeping a bawdy house, that can be used to criminally charge those who visit a bathhouse or who practise group sex.

Some actions can be taken immediately; others will take longer, though the government is committed to fully acting on the Just Society recommendations before the next election.

Source: Justin Trudeau to apologize for historic persecution of gay Canadians – The Globe and Mail

Multiculturalism Day Statements

Statements by leaders on Multiculturalism Day (June 27th). Slight nuances between the three statements, but overall common thread of inclusiveness.

PM Trudeau:

“I join Canadians across the country today to celebrate multiculturalism, and our long and proud tradition of inclusion and diversity.

“As the first country in the world to adopt a policy of multiculturalism 45 years ago, Canada has shown time and time again that a country can be stronger not in spite of its differences, but because of them.

“As Canadians, we appreciate the immense freedom we have to show pride in our individual identities and ancestries. No matter our religion, where we were born, what colour our skin, or what language we speak, we are equal members of this great country.

“Our roots reach out to every corner of the globe. We are from far and wide, and speak over 200 languages. Our national fabric is vibrant and varied, woven together by many cultures and heritages, and underlined by a core value of respect. Multiculturalism is our strength, as synonymous with Canada as the Maple Leaf.

“Today, let us celebrate multiculturalism as a vital component of our national fabric, and let us express gratitude to Canadians of all backgrounds who have made, and who continue to make, such valuable contributions to our country.”

Leader of the Official Opposition Ambrose:

“Today Canadians from all across the country celebrate one of the long-lasting traditions of this country, multiculturalism.

“Every day, people from all around the world arrive in Canada seeking freedom and equality. They bring with them a variety of skills, a desire to succeed and commitment to hard work.

“In Canada, we believe that every citizen has value and something to contribute, regardless of where you were born, your heritage, or your religion. Whether you have recently arrived to this country or your family has been here for generations, you should have the equal opportunity to support your family, your community, and your country.

“As we approach Canada Day and its celebration of all those features that make Canada the best country in the world, it’s worth reflecting today on the many ideas and values that have helped shaped us as a nation.

“On Canadian Multiculturalism Day, I encourage all Canadians to celebrate and further strengthen the rich and diverse cultural mosaic that we have created.”

Leader of the NDP Mulcair did not issue a statement, leaving it to multiculturalism critic Rachel Blaney:

“Today, as we celebrate Multiculturalism Day, we take stock of the unity and coexistence of the many traditions and cultures that make up our great country. This is a heritage we can take great pride in.

The New Democratic Party is honored to highlight our nation’s diversity, but we cannot take it for granted. We cannot stand by silently when bigotry, discrimination and racism continue to be given platforms here at home and abroad. 

Let’s take a moment to discover, and rediscover, the many cultural riches of our communities and the contribution that many have made toward our shared values. The NDP is committed to the multicultural ideals of equality, tolerance and compassion.”

A summary article on these and other statements can be found here:

Canadians quietly celebrate Multiculturalism Day

With civil service shakeup, Trudeau brings youth, diversity to top jobs

Election 2015 and Beyond- Implementation Diversity and Inclusion.001Simon Doyle on changes to Deputy ranks but more anecdotal than evidence-based.

My count of the 19 Deputy appointments to date by PM Trudeau: 10 men, 9 women, 1 visible minority, no Indigenous people. Gender parity but weak visible minority and Indigenous peoples representation, reflecting in part weaknesses in ADM diversity as shown in the above chart:

Retirements of Ottawa’s highest-ranked bureaucrats have accelerated under the Justin Trudeau government as the Liberals shuffle the leadership of the public service after years of management under Stephen Harper.

The government has made a series of moves with its highest-ranked bureaucrats since coming into office last fall, most recently promoting senior officials who had worked on the Environment and Foreign Affairs portfolios.

…..David Zussman, a former senior government official and a professor of public-sector management at the University of Ottawa, said the number of appointments are high, with more than 20 changes in the senior ranks of the public service since late December, including retirements.

“I’m sure word would have gone out that: ‘We’re in a process of renewal, and any of you guys thinking of leaving, do me a favour and tell me now,’ ” Dr. Zussman said.

“A lot of them are really long-standing public servants who I think hung around for the election to help out [former clerk] Janice Charette, and now, six months into it, they decided to trigger their retirements. They’ve all got their 35 years,” he said, indicating they can collect pensions.

…“Some ministers may want a new deputy, and it’s their prerogative to say they would like someone new. The clerk may decide that he feels someone should move, or sometimes deputies will go and say they would like to move,” said C. Scott Clark, former deputy minister of finance and a senior adviser to the prime minister under the Jean Chrétien government.

“It takes time for a minister and a deputy to form what I would call a good relationship, a professional, working relationship. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t,” Mr. Clark said.

…The new deputies also reflect efforts by Mr. Trudeau and the clerk to renew the public service and, as with the makeup of the Prime Minister’s cabinet, introduce some youth and diversity into the government’s leadership.

“He’s been very clear about the importance he attaches to having a professional, non-partisan, responsive, agile, creative public service,” Mr. Wernick told The Globe and Mail in an interview earlier this year. “It’s the only way he’s going to accomplish the goals he put in front of Canadians.”

One senior government official said Mr. Trudeau, in late January, made a rare appearance at the Deputy Ministers’ Breakfast, a gathering of all the public service’s most senior mandarins who meet in Langevin Block. Prime ministers typically address the breakfast once or twice per year.

While it’s unclear what was said, the PM has been emphasizing with senior officials a program for getting results and revitalizing the public service. Mr. Trudeau attended the meeting shortly after he appointed Mr. Wernick as Clerk.

….Mr. Scott expects more changes in the fall after the government takes the summer to regroup. “I would expect there will probably be more moves coming,” he said. As Mr. Wernick said in a recent letter to the PM: “It is clear to me that we are entering a period of dramatic generational change in the Public Service.”

Source: With civil service shakeup, Trudeau brings youth, diversity to top jobs – The Globe and Mail

Komagatu Maru Apology

This has been a long-standing issue for many in the Indo-Canadian community, particularly Sikh Canadians. Reading the announcement, reminded me of the previous attempt by former Prime Minister Harper to do so at an Indo-Canadian community picnic on 3 August 2008.

It was a “drive-by” apology, to use my irreverent words, given that the PM and his party had to beat a hasty retreat after one activist seizing the mike and denouncing the fact that it was not delivered in Parliament. See Harper apologizes in B.C. for 1914 Komagata Maru incident, CBC, 3 August 2008.

My takeaway from that incident (I was present) was that any apology, if made, should be done in the House of Commons (as was the case for Japanese wartime internment, the Chinese head tax and residential school abuse). Any other approach made the community being apologized to feel second-rate, as was the case with Italian Canadian wartime restrictions (former PM Mulroney delivered an apology at a dinner) or the above case of the Komagata Maru).

So while there will be predictable debate about whether an apology is warranted, the House is the appropriate forum.

An Indo-Canadian friend of mine reminded me that neither the Government of India or Britain have ever apologized for opening fire on the ship and killing passengers.

Will be interesting to see if Italian Canadians continue to press for a formal House apology.

Text of the PM press release:

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that on May 18, 2016, he will make a formal apology in the House of Commons for the Komagata Maru incident.

This year will mark the 102nd anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident, where 376 passengers of mostly Sikh descent arrived in Vancouver and were refused entry into Canada due to the discriminatory laws of the time.

The Prime Minister made the announcement at Vaisakhi on the Hill concluding a three day religious ceremony, where Sikh scriptures were read continuously to commemorate Vaisakhi.


“As a nation, we should never forget the prejudice suffered by the Sikh community at the hands of the Canadian government of the day.  We should not – and we will not.”
– Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

“An apology made in the House of Commons will not erase the pain and suffering of those who lived through that shameful experience.  But an apology is not only the appropriate action to take, it’s the right action to take, and the House is the appropriate place for it to happen.”
– Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

And the full remarks of the PM at the Vaisakhi ceremony on the Hill:

This year will mark the 102nd anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident where 376 passengers of mostly Sikh descent arrived in Vancouver and were refused entry to Canada due to the discriminatory laws of the time. The passengers of the Komagata Maru like millions of immigrants to Canada since were seeking refuge and better lives for their families. With so much to contribute to their new home, they chose Canada and we failed them utterly. As a nation, we should never forget the prejudice suffered by the Sikh community at the hands of the Canadian government of the day. We should not and we will not. That is why next month, on May 18, I will stand in the House of Commons and offer a full apology for the Komagata Maru incident.

An apology made in the House of Commons will not erase the pain and suffering of those who lives through that shameful experience, but an apology is not only the appropriate action to take, it’s the right action to take and the House is the appropriate place for it to happen. It was in the House of Commons that the laws that prevented the passengers from disembarking were first passed and so it’s fitting that the government should apologize there on behalf of all Canadians. It’s what the victims of the Komagata Maru incident deserve and we owe them nothing less.

Just as we look back and acknowledge where we’re failed, so too do we need to celebrate the remarkable success of the Sikh community here in Canada and Vaisakhi is the perfect opportunity to do just that. April is a special month, not only for Sikhs but for all Canadians. It marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Charter of rights and freedoms which ensures that no Canadian needs to make the choice between their religion and activities in their day-to-day lives. The charter ensures that the five Ks are protected. As Canadian Sikhs gather with their loved ones to mark the creation of the Khalsa, it’s a chance to reflect on shared values and celebrate the successes of the past year.

What Justin Trudeau said today about the Komagata Maru incident