You make a choice when you emigrate. Or at least you should.
If any country bestows its ultimate gift by accepting someone from another land as a future citizen then the very least that individual should do is leave behind whatever emotional baggage caused them to move in the first place.
Sure, you cannot simply jettison your personal identity like some worn-out socks, but you can take advantage of this remarkable opportunity to start afresh, with an open mind in a new land. It’s the nearest thing to being born again without the religious affiliation.
Personally, that’s why I’ve never written anything about the whole Brexit saga. Of course I’ve a view – after all, the first ballot I ever cast was in the 1975 United Kingdom referendum on whether people wanted to join the European Community, as it was then called. They did.
But it isn’t any of my business today. Alberta and Canada are what concern me and having turned away from my original homeland it would be the height of arrogance to pontificate about what British people should or shouldn’t do. That right was lost boarding a Wardair flight to Edmonton 40 years ago.
So it’s disconcerting watching fellow immigrants use Canada as some sort of public staging ground to protest the goings on in the very places they – like me – willingly turned their backs upon. Is that all this country is: a place of convenience and relative safety to vilify regimes and policies in some former homeland?
This is not some esoteric musing. Canada now has the highest percentage of immigrants and permanent residents in its entire history and the numbers are just going higher – closing the doors would lead to economic stagnation, unless we suddenly start having babies as though it was 1954 all over again.
The largest cohort of annual newcomers now arrives from India and it’s that country’s rumbustious politics currently being played out across Canada, thanks to an unofficial referendum on the formation of an independent Sikh state, Khalistan, in the Punjab.
The issue is so emotive 100,000 people cast a vote in a one-day event near Toronto recently and both nationalistic Hindus and separation seeking Sikhs noisily faced off in Mississauga during recent Diwali festivities. This referendum roadshow arrives in Calgary and Edmonton come January.
So far there’s been no serious violence but the Sikh homeland cause is an enormously fraught issue, one forming the backdrop of the worst mass murder in Canadian history when extremists bombed an Air India flight in 1985 killing 329 people.
Oh, and if you think that’s just ancient history then you might be interested to know one of the alleged masterminds of that bombing, Ripudaman Singh Malik, was shot and killed in his car in Surrey, B.C. less than four months ago.
But where’s Captain Canada in all this? Where are Justin Trudeau’s famous admonishments about how Canadians should respect each other and come together in a sense of peoplehood? Not that forthcoming to be honest. After all there are lots of present and future votes in play here and rocking this crowded boat won’t help the Grit cause one iota.
No, that particular lecture is saved for those who protest his rule.
So, if people want to use Canada as the venue for airing grievances that should have been left at the airport or dock when they made the journey here, then that’s just fine and dandy with our prime minister.
Well, it’s not. If you want to protest then do so to improve Canada. That’s what citizenship involves isn’t it?
Chris Nelson is a syndicated columnist.