220px-Michael_Chong(Published in Guleph Mercury in 2011)

On November 10th, as a member of the Guelph Mercury community editorial group, I was invited to meet the Wellington Dufferin Member of Parliament, Mr. Michael Chong.

It was also informed to me, before the meeting, that it was good enough if I just participated and did not need to write a column later, since an official story would anyhow be printed and my views raised may add a different perspective to the story as I represented the common man on the street and was not a part of the formal media.

I actively participated in the meeting and at the end of the meeting, while I told the editor that I will write a column later, I eagerly waited for the story next day in the paper to see how our discussions are presented in the paper.

To my utter surprise, in the story that was printed, a ‘Selective amnesia’ was displayed by the paper by not printing even an iota on the issues raised by me or the responses given by Mr. Chong to them.

As a new immigrant to Canada and a struggling common man on street, it is difficult for me to decide as to whether I am more astound with the disconnect that the powerful have with the pain and views of the powerless on the streets or with the facade that the mirrors of the society create to reflect a view which fits their choice.

And what do I call the responses given by Mr. Chong to some of the questions raised- A leader par excellence,  a charming, young politician at his best  or even another case of ‘Selective amnesia’ ? Or the story that followed? Let the reader decide for himself.

1) On the streets small businesses like convenience stores, small gas stations, repair shops, restaurants, gift shops, farmers, are suffering silently while continuing their struggle of daily survival. A typical business would be family run with lowly paid owner operator, lucky to be earning minimum wages even, working long hours at stretch for months or years at end without break, living in constant fear of the government and the bureaucracy and the power that it breeds, and hoping against the hope that the next big box or corporation selling coffee, burger, fries and cheap grocery to attract customers for their other merchandise will not be started by the tax hungry municipalities when he gets up tomorrow.

For the employees of such businesses, if any, it is as worse with jobs that pay minimum having bleak prospect of growth or even full time hours and no job assurances.

And the solution provided for such businesses by the MP as being generously worked out by the government is of lower income taxes, where no income exists and relief in employment insurance for new employees, when even the existing ones are under employed and in trouble. As for the bureaucracy, the icing on the cake, a new second commission made of bureaucrats to study how to control and reduce the bureaucratic red tape.

2) New immigrants or even long standing residents of the country who look as new immigrants

due to their race, colour, accent or language are called at the time of provincial elections as ‘foreigners’ by some of his colleagues  to gain votes of some other group in true  spirit of divide and rule. Now that the election is over and the strategy misfired, it was mentioned as a personal view of some of the politicians of the party and disowned as part of the election strategy.

3) While Canada and the Canadian people have always supported a two nation theory with

regards to Israel and Palestine and the MP also accepted the same, he confirmed that the reason Canada was amongst the only 12 nations led by Israel and US who voted against the majority of 112 nations including France who voted for the motion or more than 50 nations including Britain who abstained at the UNESCO vote was because that the same should be done in bilateral talks between the two parties as is suggested by America and should not be taken to United Nations. When it was informed to the MP, that the creation of Israel itself was because the issue was taken to the UN and as a result of the vote it won there and the Palestine people are just requesting for their freedom through the same forum of the land occupied since 1967, the MP felt that we should look at the future and forget the past!!!

It is the right thing to empathize with the ‘Occupy Movement’ as it is supposed to represent the frustration and the pain of the 99 percent of the society. That was done and printed.

However it is time that politicians and the media realise that we are now living in a different world where social media, not dictated by the dictums of the official channels exists and while the ‘Occupy movements’ may live or die due to their leadership or lack of it, the spirit behind them will live and light itself till it flowers into a ‘Canadian spring’.

 Appeared in Guelph Mercury November 16th 2011


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