Gurpreet Singh: Stephen Harper's Surrey barbecue speech ignores Wisconsin murders
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has left many Indo Canadians surprised after making a speech on B.C. Day in Surrey without mentioning a massacre in Wisconsin.
Six people were shot to death at a suburban Milwaukee Sikh temple on August 5 by Wade Michael Page, who also died. Although the incident sent shock waves across Canada where Sikhs have a big presence, Harper did not utter a word about the tragedy while addressing a crowd at the annual barbecue hosted by Sen. Gerry St. Germaine.
This was despite the fact that there were about two dozen turbaned Sikhs, including the minister of state for democratic reform, Tim Uppal, in attendance.
Uppal separately told Punjabi media that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued a statement expressing its outrage at the incident.
However, Harper missed the point by not mentioning it while addressing a public meeting in a municipality with a sizable Sikh population.
Former Surrey Sikh temple vice president Sadhu Singh Samra, who was at the barbecue, said he was shocked at Harper’s silence over the tragedy.
"At least I was expecting him to say a few words of sympathy’," Samra stated.
Jassa Grewal, another prominent member of the Sikh community, said that he brought nearly 50 Indo Canadian friends to the event. "How can Harper be so ignorant?" he declared. "He should have said something."
Gurpreet Singh is Georgia Straight contributor, and the host of a program on Radio India. He's working on a book tentatively titled Canada's 9/11: Lessons from the Air India Bombings.