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Home » Ethnoburbia, Scarborough.Scarboro, Tdotorial

Open Letter to The Editor: Response to Blatchford – By Hans Gruber

Submitted by on Wednesday May 13, 2009 – 11:47 pm | No Comment
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tamil-elders-protest-at-university-avenue-and-armouryBy Hans Gruber

I know that stewing over this is unhelpful and pointless, but I have to get this out of my system. So what was wrong with Christie Blatchford’s Globe and Mail article about the recent Tamil protests in Toronto?Immigration and the Census

According to Blatchford, the astonishing truth is that we don’t know how many Tamils there are in Toronto or Canada. This seems to be her major complaint. But as the Toronto Star article she references points out, it is very difficult for representatives of the Canadian government to convince a group of people who have fled an ethnically-based civil war and felt that the Sri Lankan government was trying to ethnically cleanse them to voluntarily identify their ethnicity to any government, even if it is a friendly Canadian one.

Blatchford and her (non Tamil, downtown-living?) friends are shocked that there may be as many as 100,000 Tamils living in the GTA. Have Blatchford or her friends ever visited Scarborough? If they had, they’d likely be shocked that anyone would float 100,000 as the number of Tamils in the GTA. That seems absurdly low. Citizenship and Immigration Canada reports that Canada accepted about 50,000 permanent residents from Sri Lanka from 1998 to 2007 alone.

Why is this lack of exact data so unsettling? We don’t know how many homosexuals or brunettes live among us. Does that disturb her as well? Of course not. Blatchford is arguing that there are too many Tamil people in Toronto. Tamil people unsettle her.

White Rage and the Unwritten Covenant

But it isn’t just the number of Tamils in Canada that alarms Christie Blatchford. She is also appalled that “we” (I assume that she means white Torontonians?) “are expected to accept on faith that they are properly and legally here and extend to them every privilege conferred by Canadian citizenship – and suck it all up without complaint.”

Blatchford’s entire article is broadly offensive, but I am genuinely amazed that this sentence was actually published in a major Canadian newspaper. It is difficult to know how to respond. Yes, Canadians are expected to accept that the people who are living here are here legally, unless they have some compelling reason for believing otherwise. And yes, you should generally accord your neighbours the same rights you expect. Although it would be interesting to find out what rights she was hoping to withhold from the Tamils after she makes her citizen’s arrest.

Interestingly, it doesn’t evens occur to Blatchford that there are Tamils living in Canada that were born here. In fact, there are lots of Tamils in Toronto who were, unlike her, actually born in the city.

Tamil protesters and Toronto Police on Gardiner Expressway.

Tamil Canadians and Toronto Police on Gardiner Expressway.

According to Blatchford, one of the problems with the Tamils is that they have breached the unwritten covenant they should have made with their new country. Unfortunately, she doesn’t go on to explain what that unwritten covenant is. She seems to be implying that the unwritten covenant involves never storming the Gardiner Expressway to protest. If that’s the case, I’m sure that she raced to check the immigration status of the (mostly white?) Critical Mass cyclists who shut down the Gardiner last year while demonstrating for more bike lanes on Bloor Street. Or is it only non-white people protesting what they consider full-on genocide of their family members that is a genuine violation of the unwritten covenant?

Public Policy and Mobility Rights

Blatchford also argues that “many Torontonians” feel that there was never any public discussion about their city becoming home to “so many folks from around the world…” It is interesting that based on the 2001 census data, the vast majority or Torontonians self-identify as having an ethnic origin (Scottish, Italian, Chinese) that places either them or their ancestors as originally from some other country. So the first part of her claim is hilarious if many Torontonians do actually believe that.

The second part of her claim is also absurd. The federal Department of Citizenship and Immigration reports to Parliament on their immigration framework, selection criteria, priorities and intake levels each year. The reports are published online. During every federal election, if Canadians are unhappy with federal immigration policy, they can have a public discussion and vote for another political party.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Every Canadian needs a copy.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Every Canadian needs a copy.

But if the issue is that too many Tamils have arrived in Canada and then made Toronto their home instead of spreading out evenly across the country, the mobility rights of Tamils (and all Canadians) are protected by section six of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Sadly, those are the actual “written down” rights of Canadian citizenship. But its true that these rights aren’t ideal. For example, why are there now such an alarmingly small number of white people living in Scarborough? Why can’t the government force Christie Blatchford and her friends to move there? Perhaps into a nice Tamil or Chinese neighbourhood, next to a big ethnic mall.

Multiculturalism and the End of Canada

Blatchford believes that the Trudeau Liberals snuck in nation-altering patterns of immigration to Canada and that most Canadians eventually had to resign themselves to this change. She is likely referring to Prime Minister Pearson’s 1967 introduction of a points-based immigration system to replace the wonderful older system that Blatchford misses so much. As the CBC notes, “[Pearson] overturned Canada’s old immigration policy and established a points system for new immigrants. It was the world’s first race-free immigration policy and opened the doors of Canada to the world.” What a complete bastard.

In the end, Blatchford suggests that the problems she has with Tamils in Canada serves as an insightful critique of multiculturalism. But if you strip away her layers of race-baiting innuendo and fear of a brown planet, her only remaining argument seems to be that people shouldn’t break the law by walking on to the highway. That isn’t a critique of multiculturalism or non-racial immigration policy. The Globe should have titled this article “Blatchford outraged to learn that some non-white people occassionally break the law, just like some white people!”

Journalistic Standards

Throughout her piece, Christie Blatchford does a brilliant job of totally conflating or blurring the distinction between Tamils who were born in Canada and those who were born abroad, those who are legal Canadian citizens and those few who may not be, Tamils who support the Tamil Tigers and those who don’t, Tamils who are protesting in Toronto and those who are not, those protesters who marched on the Gardiner and those who didn’t. Does this serve a particular purpose? Actually, it does.

In fact, the entire article is a masterclass in how to stir up racial hatred with pure innuendo. An old school racist would write in his local aryan nation newsletter that there are too many Tamils in Canada, they are likely here illegally, and they are destroying everything good about our city. But a respectable Globe and Mail columnist just mentions that “a friend” was shocked that there are so many Tamils in Toronto, explains that it galls her that she has to blindly accept that they are here legally, and concludes that these Tamils have violated an unwritten covenant with her and her community. Judging by the comments on the Globe website, she’s done a great job of unleashing all the anti-immigrant racial hatred she was apparantly looking for.

But how did this get published in a national newspaper? Shouldn’t there be people at the Globe who read these pieces before they are published and ask the writer what she is arguing and what proof she has to support her claim? Are Globe columns just a series of glorified, unedited, moronic blog posts that happen to be printed out and delivered to my door each day?

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