Sikhs In; Euro-Canadians Out: Immigration Reformer’s Press Conference Cancelled for “Security Concerns”
OTTAWA, May 18, 2016. An explanation offered for the last minute cancellation of an announced press conference suggests that Parliamentary staff chose the rights of Sikhs over the rights of Euro-Canadians today.
Paul Fromm, Director of the Canada First Immigration Reform Committee, had duly booked the Charles Lynch Room run by the National Press Gallery for a 1:30 press conference to criticize Justin Trudeau’s plan to, later this afternoon, offer a second apology to Sikhs for the Komagata Maru incident in 1914.
Arrivingat the National Press Gallery on Wellington St. shortly before 1:30, Mr. Fromm and associates were told the press conference had been cancelled. A notice on the National Press Gallery wall confirmed that the press had been told the press conference was cancelled.
“But I didn’t cancel it!” said Mr. Fromm who had driven five hours from Toronto. He was referred to one Pat McDonnell, Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms.
McDonnell told Mr. Fromm by phone that he had cancelled the press conference “for security concerns” because there would be a celebration one floor up of Sikhs rejoicing because a second Prime Minister — Stephen Harper apologized in 2008 — was apologizing because the Dominion Government, in 1914, enforced the law and expelled most of the passengers on the Komagata Maru who were illegally seeking to enter the country.
“Before the first Sikhs came to Canada, my ancestors going back to 1650 — paid taxes and helped build this Parliament. It belongs to all of us,”says Mr. Fromm.
“‘Security concerns’, I am told. I was here to conduct a half hour press conference. I had no intention of confronting anyone, especially people one floor above me in a secured building,” said Mr. Fromm.
“So, I ask, whose security was being protected? The Sikhs? Is a guy in his 60s really such a threat? Much as I’ve tried to practise my Jackie Chan fists of fury moves, I hardly think I am likely to be doing back flips up the Parliamentary stairs to kick turbans off surprised Sikhs’ heads.”
“So, was it my security being protected? Did they really have knowledge of some Sikh plot to attack? I know these privileged people get to pack daggers (kirpans) but was there really such a plot? Surely, with all the men and guns at their disposal the ‘security’ staff should have been able to keep order,” Mr. Fromm fumed.
“The Supreme Court has talked about ‘reasonable accommodation’ in terms of balancing rights. Surely, the Sikhs could have gathered and celebrated one floor up and I could have held my press conference, as planned. The Sikhs’ right to freedom of assembly and mine to freedom of speech and the press’s right to have access to a dissenting point of view could all have been preserved,” he explained.
Mr. Fromm was to have given an interview to CPAC reporter Holly Doan, after the press conference. Ms Doan tried to get him into the Parliament Buildings as her guest on her pass to go to a television studio for the interview. More “security” was hastily summoned. Finally, a grizzled officer told Mr. Fromm: “You are not allowed into the building at all.”
Ms Doan tried to point out her interview had nothing to do with the Komagata Maru issue.
Smirking and laughing, the growing security detail sent the two on their way. The grizzled one said: “I am only following orders.”
Tongue-in-cheek Mr. Fromm reminded him: “That didn’t get them off at Nuremburg.”
Not to be deterred, Mr. Fromm and associates held a protest up from the Eternal Flame (for liberty, one hopes) unfurling a banner that read: “STOP APOLOGIZING. Komagata Maru, illegal in 1914; No apology needed today, Justin.”
Similar protests occurred in both Toronto and Vancouver today