Tuesday, June 26, 2007

NDP MP calls on government to treat Ukrainian community honourably

It's nice to know there are some politicians out there with a sense of fairness and decency.

Peggy Nash, M.P. for Parkdale – High Park, joined the Ukrainian-Canadian community in urging a reformulation of the Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP) to better meet the wishes of the Ukrainian community. ...

The proposed government plan would require the Ukrainian community to get funding on a project-by-project basis from the federal government. “I encourage the government to offer the Ukrainian-Canadian community a timely and honourable settlement.” said Ms. Nash. “This situation should be resolved while the last survivor of the internment camps is still alive.” Ms. Nash added. ...

Read her entire press release here.

I find it very interesting that after the government agreed to redress and restitution, they suddenly noticed there are other aggrieved ethnic groups and decided to lump us all together.

The Restitution Act was about the government returning to the Ukrainian community what it confiscated (and never returned ) during the WWI internment. A symbolic act, to be sure, as the community's intention for that returned money (the value of the confiscated goods) was to use it to educate Canadians of all backgrounds about this little known chapter in our history ... something mainstream Canadian historians and educators have not been wont to do.

So now, after passing the Restitution Act, the government wants to make the Ukrainian community line up, hat in hand, with other designated groups to beg for money promised to them ... and that was ours to begin with? No wonder organizations like the Ukrainian Canadian Congress rejected it.

Interesting how selective the government is with its largess. The government is offering "symbolic ex-gratia payments" to Chinese Head Tax payers and any surviving spouses. Appropos, certainly. Any chance, however, that it might have something to do with good optics within a large, identifiable voting bloc?

Perhaps our community's mistake has been in not demanding similar individual compensation. Given the government's track record (regardless whether it was Liberals or Conservatives at the helm), a person could certainly be forgiven for wondering if they have been deliberately dragging their heels until the one sole Ukrainian survivor of the WWI internment operations passes on ... just in case we might.

During WWI Ukrainians suffered much discrimination from the government and the Canadian establishment. Seems not a lot has changed.

2 comments:

Taras said...

The Ukrainian community has to act boldly in bringing this issue to the fore and making sure the story is not forgotten.

By confronting the past and facing its demons, Canada will strengthen its present-day record as one of the world’s most tolerant societies.

Pawlina said...

Unfortunately, Canadians (unlike Americans) are not terribly inclined to confront the sins of the past and face said demons.

So yes, you are right that the Ukrainian community has to be bold, if not aggressive ... for the country's own good.