The Legacy of Malcolm Brodie, Mayor of Canada’s First Asian City

 

South Vancouver, B.C. -Canada (Photo courtesy of Brad Salsberg)

South Vancouver, B.C. -Canada (Photo courtesy of Brad Salzberg)

The Legacy of Malcolm Brodie, Mayor of Canada’s First Asian City

By Brad Salzberg, April 2015

Sir John A. McDonald. Sir Wilfred Laurier. Two of the founders of our country, often referred to as “forefathers” of our nation. In modern Canada, however, we have forefathers of a different variety.

Take Richmond B. C. Mayor Malcolm Brodie. He is a forefather of a new variety. Richmond is known as the most Asian city outside of Asia. It is a Canadian municipality in which white Canadians are a minority, and it shows. Within Richmond’s business districts, Chinese languages dominate the billboards, store fronts and public advertising. Many do not include an English equivalent. When English is included, it often appears perfunctory, with Chinese characters dominating the messaging.

It’s an unusual phenomenon, and rather controversial. Community leaders, responding to community ​dissatisfaction, recently organized a public meeting to better understand public sentiment, and to hear from both proponents and detractors.

Mayor Brodie was in attendance, but refrained from making a formal statement. At issue is the method to resolve the conflict. Some local residents promote public education as a remedy, an expensive and time-consuming endeavour. Others call for passing a by-law, which another Richmond- ​Richmond Hill, Ontario- implemented several years back. Mayor Brodie, however, feels the by-law may be a violation of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, though it is difficult to find the logic in his thinking, considering the existing Richmond Hill bylaw.

Gina Csanyi-Robah believes Roma refugees in Canada face discrimination

Dear friends of the Roma community,

As many of you know from the years of emails that have been shared, Roma refugees in Canada have faced terrible institutionalized discrimination by the Canadian government and it’s agents such as the Immigration Refugee Board and the Canadian Border Services Agency.  At the same time, they were often subjected to poor legal representation by those that exploited their vulnerable status and lack of knowledge of the Canadian refugee system. For years, everyone who worked at or on behalf of the Roma Community Centre in Toronto tried to raise awareness about these issues. At long last, the truth is continuing to emerge and the stark reality for Romani asylum seekers is becoming wider known in Canada, and internationally. It is shameful that our Canadian government viciously attacked Roma asylum seekers as ‘bogus refugees’, There never was any sincere attempt to address the widely documented human rights abuses and persecution that Europe’s largest minority group has been subjected in States that have allowed endemic discrimination and racially motivated violence to target their Roma communities. In fact, our government has put significant effort into collaborating with these, especially Hungary, in creating campaigns and new policies to prevent Roma from seeking or obtaining asylum in Canada.
Hopefully, in the near future we will see some changes in place that will prevent the government in power from singling out and attacking certain communities. When this happens, it affects the quality of life for all of us in a country that prides itself on being inclusive, equal rights for all, and embracing of diversity. Unfortunately. for some segments of the Canadian population, these are just words on a policy paper or in a public relations speech – they aren’t the reality of their Canadian experience.
Here are some important Roma related articles that have been published recently.
Wishing everyone a happy easter, passover, or perhaps just a long weekend to enjoy time with family or friends. 

Brad Salzberg : Multiculturalism and the Politics of Identity

Photograph courtesy of Brad Salzberg, Cultural Action Party

Multiculturalism and the Politics of Identity    

by Brad Salzberg, April 2015

 For nearly three decades I have pondered the origin, meaning and impact of Canada’s official multicultural policy. During this period, certain conclusions have crystallized in my mind, and yet at the same time, many unanswered questions remain.

It is well known that the founder of multiculturalism is former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. What is not so well known are the circumstances under which this maverick prime minister formulated multicultural ideology, and it’s eventual legislation.

Trudeau was the first western leader to meet with Mao Tse Tung, founder of the People’s Republic of China, in the year 1970.  Subsequent visits to China would follow, including a walk along the Great Wall, during which the Prime Minister did a ballet pirouette, subsequently explained as a way to break the formality of the occasion.

Less than one year after Trudeau’s first visit to China, he introduced multicultural ideology to Canada. His intention, as he publicly stated, was for multiculturalism to “function within a bi-lingual framework”. It would take seventeen more years for multiculturalism to achieve “official” status. In 1988, the policy was entrenched in our constitution as the Multicultural Act of Canada. By 2008, largely due to the influx of foreign money, the “function within a bi-lingual framework” component had all but disappeared.

Statement from the Roma Community Centre regarding the “blatant hate speech” in the Canadian media targeting Roma

Statement from the Roma Community Centre
September 10, 2012

BLATANT HATE SPEECH IN THE CANADIAN MEDIA TARGETING ROMA

Dear friend of Canada’s Roma community

Last week was a very sad time for us in the Canadian Roma community. Durham regional police held a press conference one week ago today (Tuesday Sept. 5) declaring that they have dismantled a “Roma organized crime ring” involving individuals from both Canada and Romania. Countless names and pictures of Roma suspects originally from Romania filled our television screens. After such clear and blatant racial profiling, the prevalent stereotypes of “Gypsies” being inherently criminal was certainly reinforced into the minds of the viewers. Latter the same day, media personality, Ezra Levant, delivered by far the most racist, abusive, hateful, misinformed commentary on live television that the Roma community has ever received in our Canadian history. The Sun Media News allowed this same type of hate speech targeting our community, as takes place in Hungary by the far-right media arm of the Jobbik “neo-Nazi” political party. Shame. To the best of our knowledge, this is absolutely unacceptable and not allowed in Canada – apparently, not. http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/canada/archives/2012/09/20120905-203437.html Please, see direct, shocking quotes from this racist diatribe, below. 

Gina Csanyi-Robah: Please, stop disseminating inaccurate information

In response to  Cohn: Canada’s splendid isolation from the realities of human smuggling

Please, stop disseminating inaccurate information

Hello Mr. Cohn,

Your article yesterday as quite disheartening. Certainly, you did not research any information that you presented as facts in your article.

1. Upwards of 50,000 Czech, Hungarian, Slovak, and other central and eastern European Romani refugees have sought asylum in Canada, since 2008. In 2009, there was one prosecuted case of human trafficking in Hamilton involving the Roma community. Five (5) individuals were convicted. Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney promoted and exploited this unfortunate situation to make it exemplary of all the Roma refugee claimants coming into Canada. This lie has been continually propagated by the Canadian media.

Film by Cameroonian-born Canadian actress and filmmaker Dorothy A. Atabong to raise awarness about “honour” killings

Dorothy A. Atabong

Help stop so-called Honor Killings

Cameroonian-born Canadian actress and filmmaker Dorothy A. Atabong picked up a pencil and wrote what was the first of many drafts of Sound of Tears – A Matter of Family Honor, when she came across a newspaper article about a Mississauga girl who was strangled by her own father and brother.

Sound of Tears is a dramatic short film about a young woman who must abide by the strict customs and traditions embedded in her since birth. She must heed the admonition and relinquish a forbidden love. It is a matter of family honor.