In a press conference with Tamil-Canadian media last month, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Canada acted against its own interests by listing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist group in 2006.Acted against the interests perhaps of Canadian politicians seeking the Tamil-Canadian vote, but Canada had stood out as one of the few advanced democracies not recognizing the reality that the LTTE were a terrorist group. Of course, perhaps we should have given the LTTE a pass because it only perfected the art of suicide bombing including the use of apparently pregnant women. Perhaps we should give the LTTE a pass because it was more equal opportunity for women than many other terrorist groups?
Of course, this was a session only for Tamil-Canadian media so it took a month to get out. If this was not pandering, Kenney should have said it widely and loudly. So, the media here really is the message--talk to an ethnic lobby in a way that you cannot say publicly. Good times.
Yes, the Sinhalese majority of Sri Lanka have abused the Tamils in many ways--providing the textbook case of ethnic outbidding--where two parties compete for a majority's vote at the expense of a minority. But in 2006, the LTTE were still alive and kicking and causing much in the way of civilian casualties.
To be clear, the Tamil-Canadians are not the only community that has supported those using violence in the homeland and where local politicians have pandered to them (Irish-Americans are a famous case). I expect (in books 1 and 2) for people to seek policies that aid their kin back home. I also expect politicians who need their votes to support their positions. But I don't have to approve of it. So, excuse me if I call a pander a pander, but Kenney is the new pander bear of Canada.*
* As this picture suggests, I am not the only person to think of the phrase "pander bear"