Stephen Harper’s Conservatives—Courting the Racist Vote

Posted on April 5, 2011


The Komagata Maru incident occurred during a Dark Age in Canada’s racial history, an age where Chinese, Japanese, South Asians and Aboriginal people were all systematically discriminated against by a deeply racist White majority.

At the time the incident took place, Canada was not wholly in charge of its own immigration policy.  Canada was part of the British Empire and under the law of that Empire, citizens of one part could freely move to any other part of the Empire.  Since India also belonged to the British Empire, immigration from India could not be legally prevented under Canadian law.

The Komagata Maru incident, where the ship was turned away from Vancouver harbour in 1914, was therefore not only a vicious violation of human rights, but a violation of law as well.  It ultimately resulted in the death of 20 of the turned-away passengers and the imprisonment of the rest for the duration of the First World War.

The racial atmosphere in which the Komagatu Maru incident took place is one that most Canadians prefer to forget.  It is the same atmosphere that the Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party is evidently trying to revive, if a recent racist election ad is any guide.

Some Tamil refugees were in the news in British Columbia last year and even more so this year.  The Tamils have arrived in Canada fleeing persecution and death after a civil war in their own country.

Their plight is ignored but their race is apparently the target of a new Conservative election ad, which looks at the issue as one of “people smuggling.”  The National Council of Canadian Tamils finds the ad and the characterization deeply disturbing.

Krisna Saravanamuttu, a council spokesman, said, “This election ad is xenophobic and borders on racism….It is reminiscent of the political rhetoric used to turn back Sikhs and Hindus on board the Komagatu Maru in 1914, and Jewish refugees on board the MS St. Louis fleeing persecution in 1939.  In these cases, refugees fleeing persecution were labelled ‘criminals’ and vilified by politicians appealing to the worst instincts of Canadians to score political points and votes.”

That’s Conservative politics today.  Not 1914, today.

And I differ a little from Mr. Saravanamuttu on this.  The campaign doesn’t border on racism.  It is racism.

Campaigns like the present Conservative campaign are exactly what racism does.  It spreads racial paranoia and it attempts to keep people of colour discredited and apart, exactly as Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party have attempted to do.  Are attempting to do.

Let’s not return to the racist Canada of earlier eras.  Let’s not let race-baiting Conservatives take over our government.

Don’t vote Conservative.

A race-baiting Stephen Harper is too dangerous a man to represent Canada.

Posted in: politics