Canadian, Austrialian PMs could meet in the Punjab

- October 27th, 2012
PM at Golden Temple

AMRITSAR, India – Prime Minister Stephen Harper (wearing a blue tie) visits the holiest of Sikh holy place, the Golden Temple in 2009. (DAVID AKIN)

The Times of India, in a rather breathless report, says:

  1. “…the premiers of two countries - Canada and Australia – [are] slated to be in Punjab in the first week of November…
  2. “..The two prime ministers are definitely scheduled to visit the Golden Temple..” according to a “senior” official.
  3. “..the Punjabi language has acquired the status of Canada’s second language…”
I’m almost certain that two of the three claims made by the Times of India in that piece are incorrect.
Mind you, I have relatively low expectations of the Indian media mostly because of the baseless shots they took at us when I was last there. (That plus they are completely cowed by their prime minister; Canadian journos, by contrast, tend not to be cowed by prime ministers are more interested in what readers and viewers think than what PMs think.)
It is true that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced a visit to India which includes a visit to the Punjab. I will have to take the Times‘ word that Australian PM Julia Gillard will be there at about the same time.
But as for point two — that Harper will be at the Golden Temple in Amritsar — I’m pretty sure the Times has that point wrong — or at least the “senior official” quoted by the paper has been misinformed.  The Golden Temple is the holiest of holy places for the world’s Sikhs and that’s why Harper visited it during his first trip to India in 2009 (Harper visited spiritually significant significant sites in India in 2009 for Hindus, Jews, and Sikhs) in what was inarguably the craziest “photo op” I’ve ever had the privilege in which to participate.
Golden Temple photo op
Harper will certainly be in India and in  the Punjab but, at this point, the PMO is pretty clear that he’ll be in Chandigarh and not, this time, at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
What about that third point,that Punjabi is now Canada’s second language?
Well, I think the Times of India  has forgotten that in officially bilingual Canada,  English and French still hold the number 1 and 2 spot. Punjabi was in third spot, in the most recent Statistics Canada report, but that’s largely because Statistics Canada is now, for the first time, breaking out languages spoken in China into their constitutent parts. If you added together those who spoke Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese Chinese, or any other Chinese dialect you would easily eclipse any other language group — except French or English. But, as different Chinese dialects are now being broke out — just as the different languages spoken in India (Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, etc.) are being broke out – the language Punjabi, spoken by many Sikhs, has now popped into third spot after English and French on Statscan’s list. But it is a very distant third compared to English and French and it is certainly not, as the Times of India has reported “Canada’s second language.”

Categories: Foreign Affairs, Main Page

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1 comment

  1. fatafr says:

    Prime Minister Harper could learn a few things from the Ausie Prime Minister about how to deal with immigrants and their customs. Maybe they should talk a little about dealing with first nations people and their endless demands from the Canadian taxpayer.
    It’s time for Harper to start dealing with these entitlement issues like a true Conservative.

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