Hello Chestermere! Well we are getting a short break from the bitter cold and snow and here’s hoping it lasts. As I write this, the Prime Minister is returning from India where he indulged in a flurry of photo ops wearing traditional Indian outfits. In my experience, as a person of Indian heritage although born and raised in Alberta, I have always taken every opportunity to dress myself, my family and my friends of all different backgrounds in our gorgeous clothing. From a personal perspective when we as politicians have gone to events that are cultural events, I have always made a point of asking what is appropriate, and what is most respectful of the traditions of that culture. I actually adore seeing people take the time and effort to wear, dress and feel like they are part of something that they would not normally participate in. It is one of the greatest privileges of this position. Here is why people are upset. The Prime Minister did not do his research to see what would be appropriate. He and his advisors just worried about their photo opportunities, and not the actual privilege of being invited into another country and the savvy that goes along with understanding what is appropriate. Now this dress faux-pas is small potatoes compared to the next 3 items. First, our Veterans. How is it we do not have enough money to support our Veterans, but we have enough of our hard-earned tax dollars to fly celebrity chef Vikram Vij to cook for Indian diplomats in INDIA? I guarantee that any Indian diplomat sitting with the Prime Minister would have picked their home cooked food made with love by a family member over even the brilliance of Vikram Vij to showcase their own food in their own country by their local chefs.
Secondly, we have convicted Sikh terrorist Jaspal Atwal being invited to dinner (and photo ops!) with our Prime Minister while in India. This is not a joke folks. This man attempted to assassinate a visiting Indian politician on Canadian soil. Malkiat Singh Sidhu was visiting to go to his nephews wedding when he was attacked. Jaspal Atwal was tried and convicted in Canada, is a criminal, and that has nothing to do with his culture or his religion. This is a person who did not renounce the violence he perpetrated, nor did he show any signs of remorse. He has been involved in car theft and fraud to add to the list, and he is invited to meet with our Prime Minister when our Veterans can’t even count on the Prime Minister to help them out as they fight for our freedoms?
Finally, as many of you know India has been restricting and blocking our pulse exports with actions such as expanded fumigation requirements and a 50% tariff. This has a direct effect on the bottom line of many of you, not to mention raising uncertainty when you are planning for the next crop year. How is it that our Prime Minister feels that a celebrity chef and a bunch of wardrobe consultants are more deserving of a place on his trip than the Minister Of Agriculture who could lobby for a mutually acceptable solution to this issue?
Finally, I would like to thank John Kittler of Chestermere Dockside Pub and Grill, Coralee McIntosh and the rest of Synergy Team, Aleesha at the Langdon Firehouse, Sterling Hilton of Strathmore Origin Malting and Brewing, and Pastor Elizabeth Karp and the Board of the Strathmore Overnight Shelter for hosting Opposition Leader Jason Kenney and myself on his tour of the Chestermere – Strathmore area. Thanks to everyone who came out and joined us. It was a pleasure to meet you.