Dr. Dawg

That Milewski interview

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Picture this: the newly-minted leader of a major national political party, Justin Trudeau, has his first interview on the CBC’s Power and Politics. He is pressed relentlessly about Paul Rose, a former FLQ member, now deceased. He’s still seen as a hero of the independence cause by many Quebeckers. Will Trudeau denounce Rose’s supporters? Justin tries to answer the question more generally, stating that violence is never acceptable in a free society, and his record on Quebec separatism is clear. But the questions, more like an interrogation now, keep coming…and coming. The interviewer then takes to Twitter to go after Trudeau.

Unprofessional? You bet. Likely to happen? Not in this universe. Instead, the interviewer asks him about his hopes for the country, where he will lead his party, and some general policy questions.

But for some reason, CBC reporters seem to have a problem when the interviewee is not white. We recall the manner in which Julie Van Dusen went after a First Nations woman this past July. And now we have Terry Milewski, dragged out of retirement, homing in on Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity. He demanded that Singh denounce Sikhs in Canada who see Talwinder Singh Parmar, by several accounts the mastermind of the Air India bombing 32 years ago, as a martyr to the cause of Sikh separatism in India. Palmar had been shot and killed by Indian police in 1992, and some argue that he was murdered in custody. Sikh nationalists in Canada have been known to display his picture during festivals.

Singh is a defence lawyer by profession, and he knew full well that charges against Palmar, related to the bombing, were dropped. So he answered the question in general terms, stating that the Air India bombing was a “heinous massacre,” and that violence of this kind should be unequivocally denounced. While he was more indirect than I would have liked—a far cry from his directness on Quebec’s Bill 62, for example—his response was appropriate from the perspective of a lawyer commenting upon a man who was found legally innocent, and whose supporters (so far as I know) do not defend the Air India atrocity.

But that was not enough for Milewski, and he took to Twitter to attack Singh, making it personal, something a little unusual in the annals of Canadian journalism. Milewski has been on the “Sikh beat” for some time—he covered the Air India bombing for many years—and went after Michael Ignatieff back in the day for scheduling a short interview with a Sikh journalist—who, it turns out, appeared regularly on the CBC, and who interviewed former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

That there was something at least borderline racist about Milewski’s interview with Singh is undeniable. You would not see him demand of a white party leader that they denounce the white nationalist supporters of the current US President, or the defenders of Timothy McVeigh who might still be lurking around 22 years after his crime. But it seemed perfectly appropriate to him to effectively put Singh’s ethnicity on trial. It’s 2017, but the mainstream media still permit a politician’s race or religion to trump their role, responsibilities, talents and vision. One hopes that this appalling interview is not a harbinger of things to come, but I am not optimistic.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on October 4, 2017 11:19 AM.

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