Charanjit Singh Channi”s remark does not endorse ‘One Nation’ principle: Punjabi diaspora in Canada

Chandigarh : Just ahead of polling for the 117-member Assembly in Punjab, Congress Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s remark on migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar has angered Punjabi diaspora in Canada, who termed it ridiculous, discriminatory, nasty and not endorsing the principle of India ‘One Nation’.Canada’s first Indo-Canadian premier Ujjal Dosanjh, who fought for the rights of farm and domestic workers, told IANS over phone that the chief minister’s remark is discriminatory and ridiculous.Dosanjh noted that it is an ugly example of ‘suffocating or silencing the people from other regions’.”It is absolutely ridiculous. India is one country and you should be free to travel and live anywhere in the country,” said Punjab-origin Dosanjh, who was sworn in as B.C. premier in February 2000.A liberal and uniquely moderate Sikh, Dosanjh’s journey from his ancestral village of Dosanjh Kalan near Jalandhar began when he was 18 years old and emigrated to England in 1964. Four years later, he moved to Canada, where he pulled lumber in a sawmill for a few years.

He represented Vancouver-Kensington in the B.C. legislature from 1991 to 2001 and represented Vancouver South in Parliament from 2004 to 2011.Aghast at the political remark back in his home state, Dosanjh told IANS that in 1977 when he was in India then Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra had created a stir with his remark on migrant workers.”At that time too I publicly spoke against him for his remark,” he said.Dosanjh, a lawyer, said in Canada everyone is free to move anywhere. “If you are staying at one place for more than six months, you have the right to vote there.Sharing similar sentiments, Vancouver-based journalist Gurpreet Singh said: “As a Canadian of Punjabi origin, I feel outraged whenever politicians back home try to stoke fears about migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar.”Our situation here is no different than those coming to Punjab from those states for better livelihood. This kind of regional chauvinism by anyone is unacceptable.”Although we have seen how Sikh fundamentalists have been doing that in the past, a statement like this coming from a so-called secularist Congress party leader and a chief minister is highly offensive.

“I have no other word to describe this nonsense as racism. Channi’s remarks that he claims to be targeted at AAP leaders or outsiders cannot hide the anti-migrant bias deeply rooted among the ruling elite of Punjab.”Such thankfulness for those who are contributing to the progress of Punjab is uncalled for. By making such a provocative statement he has indirectly justified the actions of white supremacists who continue to mistreat immigrants and ignore their achievements in North America.”Gurpreet Singh, who moved to Canada in 2001, as part of ‘Raise Your Hands Against Racism’, a campaign started by Spice Radio in 2015 that aims to encourage Canadians to take a stand against racial injustice.Dosanjh, who lives in Vancouver, said it is well documented how people from Punjab and other parts of India migrated to Canada in search of better opportunities and attained positions with hard work and dedication.Dosanjh’s autobiography “Journey After Midnight: India, Canada and the Road Beyond” is his journey from India to the high echelons of Canadian politics.”Canada is my chosen home. It is not perfect. No country is. But it is more perfect than most. For me Canada 150 is about making Canada, in the years ahead, an even more perfect confederation a more just, egalitarian, prosperous and inclusive society,” Dosanjh remarked as Canada celebrated 150 years since Confederation in 2017.

For Dosanjh, the politicians need to stand up and talk about multiculturalism, equality, and diversity, in every meeting they go to. “That is how racism has to be stopped.”
Vancouver-based award winning fiction writer Harpreet Singh Sekha in his story aDo Rangi’ or double faced is about the hypocrisy in the Punjabi community in Canada.
His story talks about how many of Punjabis want everything in Canada, but they do not want poor migratory labourers to come to Punjab for a better livelihood.The reason: They are outnumbering the dominant Sikh community in Punjab and they are a threat to the Punjabi culture and so on.Canada’s 2021 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, tabled this week, showed India the largest source country for immigrations into Canada.Canada Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said: “Immigration has helped shape Canada into the country it is today. From farming and fishing to manufacturing, healthcare and the transportation sector, Canada relies on immigrants. We are focused on economic recovery, and immigration is the key to getting there.”One of the reasons Canada is raising its immigrant intake 431,645 in 2022; 447,055 in 2023; and 451,000 in 2024 is so more people in the queue can come as permanent residents, added Fraser.



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