An invitation to our ‘culturally diverse’ region
Dear Mr. O’Toole,
I am a 32-year resident of Chelsea, QC. I am writing to tell you that I am saddened and deeply offended by your candidate Michel Gauthier’s recent Facebook posting about Chinese restaurants. Perhaps you should remind Gauthier about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology in the House of Commons to Chinese Canadians on June 22, 2006 – for decades of discriminatory immigration policies. Gauthier’s posting is a continuation of that history of racist behavior towards Chinese Canadians.
As someone who grew up in Chinese restaurants, this type of ‘joke’ often resulted in people breaking our windows, refusing to pay for their meals, and people verbally and physically abusing our family members. Even micro transgressions become macro very quickly, especially when sanctioned from individuals with political profile and power.
The timing of Gauthier’s denigrating cartoon comes at a time when Donald Trump’s pandemic scapegoating has brought economic ruin to our cities’ Chinatowns and Chinese Canadian-owned businesses. This scapegoating has contributed to the skyrocketing of Asian hate crime throughout Canada and the USA, with many violent acts often perpetrated against seniors and women. This started as a Trump ‘joke.’
Mr. O’Toole, perhaps you might advise Mr. Gauthier to try shopping in Chelsea, west Quebec and throughout the Pontiac to see how we have benefited from being racially and culturally diverse. He might also visit places in our region who employ essential workers (seniors care, hospitals, meat packing plants, farms, and warehouses) who employ immigrants. While he is out and about, Mr. Gauthier might consider eating at a Chinese restaurant to hear in person the challenges faced by our citizens during this pandemic.
In conclusion, Mr. O’Toole, I implore you to consider revamping your system of candidate selection to find knowledgeable and responsible anti-racist community leaders who are in touch with their constituents and the present-day socio-economic currents.
We are supposed to be all in this – together.