Many Canadians concerned with the recent lionization of the Tamil Tigers and demonization of the Sri Lankan government's attempts to defeat them have taken note of Liberal MP Gurbax Singh Malhi's appearance at a pro-Tiger rally in Toronto.
Raphael Alexander has picked this ball up. In a post on the National Post's Full Comment blog Alexander writes:
"By appearing at a rally on Parliament Hill surrounded by militant terrorist flags of the LTTE, Mr. Malhi has taken a stand shoulder-to-shoulder with an organization that is officially banned in Canada as a terrorist group. In a speech made before the crowd, the Liberal MP has compromised the priorities of a Canadian Parliamentarian by saying that the Tamils are fighting 'for a right cause'. Apparently the decision to address the crowd was impromptu; Mr. Malhi says he was just 'passing by' when he spotted the rally and decided to join in. Perhaps Mr. Malhi would be wise to recall that civilians have been killed in both sides of this struggle, and that by defending the actions of a terrorist organization he gives undue validity to them, however unintentional on his part."Alexander's commentary wouldn't seem terribly unreasonable.
But then one also has to remember that a similar episode happened to Conservative MP Jason Kenney, who in 2006 addressed rally supporting the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
The NCRI is the political arm of the Mujahidin-i-Khalq. This group has been on the list of terrorist groups prohibited from operating in Canada. It was added to that list in 2005.
Like Malhi, Kenney claimed he was just passing the rally and decided to join in spontaneously.
"Canadian people would stand in solidarity with the Iranian people in their wish for respect for human dignity and human rights and democracy," Kenney told the 2006 rally. Not that different from Malhi's comments to the Tiger rally.
Moreover, Kenney would later claim that he had pursued due diligence in regards to the matter, contradicting his earlier claims of ignorance in regards to the matter.
Kenney, a Parliamentary Secretary at the time, continued to serve after the incident. After enduring a brief Liberal barrage in Parliament, Kenney moved on to eventually become Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Multiculturalism -- a marked promotion from the lower echelons of cabinet.
Alexander isn't unreasonable to expect that Malhi should have considered the civilian deaths caused by both sides of the Sri Lankan conflict. But Mujahidin-i-Khalq has caused civilian deaths as well.
To demand an extraordinary act of repentance from Malhi would be unreasonable. If Kenney can walk away from his mistake and become a cabinet minister, Malhi can walk away free as well.
Other bloggers writing about this topic:
Dust My Broom - "Video: Liberal MP Speaks at Tamil Tiger Rally"