Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A century later, Punjab wants $150 million from Canada for a historical wrong

A century later, Punjab wants $150 million from Canada for a historical wrong

... except that they can't prove that it was a wrong committed by the federal or provincial governments.

There is a line that we should be drawing when it comes to "redressing historical wrongs". Personally, I think that the appropriate line falls somewhere around redressing stuff that the government ACTUALLY did, assuming it was outside of the prevailing attitude of the day.

For example - federal government turning back the boat according to established policy at the time - not wrong. Federal government turning back the boat because they couldn't pay an entry tax? Wrong. We won't know what was exactly the problem at the time, other than the policy specifically being applied. It could have been that the $15,000 was a portion of the charter fee due upon arrival. We may never know what exactly this part of the story was.

But in the end, we don't need to know. The ship was turned back for procedural reasons, not for lack of money. It may have been a tragedy what happened to the passengers upon return to Southeast Asia, but it is certainly nothing that we need apologize for a century after the fact, and it's certainly nothing that the federal government should be paying compensation over.

After all, if you pay compensation to these victims, do you also pay compensation and apologize to the Germans dispossessed during the First World War? Do you also apologize and pay compensation to detained German and Japanese during the Second World War? Where does it stop? At what point do was say "What's history is history. Enough"? I think that time is now.

1 comment:

  1. Considering that police have used agent provocateurs in the past, why would a protest group capitulate to what could very well be false threats only to be effectively silenced when their voice is most able to be heard? Protests groups feed off of the publicity drawn by the G8/G20 and similar summits. If all it takes to shut protests down is a publicized threat from "anarchists", then we have a serious problem with the timidity of a Canadian public tasked with holding their representatives to account.

    What really should have happened is what often happens with the 420 annualized protest in Vancouver, BC. There, police and protest organizers communicate and work together to effectively quell violence, both potential and occurring. Police and protesters there (well, actually they are more rally attendants) do not necessarily work hand in hand but there is an effort made from both sides to preserve the peace rather than escalate a situation needlessly. While many people at the 420 rally smoke pot, police recognize that value of not engaging these people en masse in a violent fashion. It's simple, damned common sense!

    There was no effort at all made like this in Toronto. Police were there in battle readiness from the word go and it was made so bloody obvious, it nearly made my eyes bleed. As mentioned in another comment I posted here, a disturbing pattern during these protests at summits is that police attack peaceful protesters and very often look on as violent protesters wreak havoc.