Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tiger Racket

According to the previous Liberal government, this was not a terrorist group, nor even a criminal organization, but a valuable source of reliable Liberal votes and fundraising:

Tamil families in Toronto are faced with extortion from Tamil Tigers of up to $10,000 apiece, and Tamil entrepreneurs up to $100,000 each, according to a new report released by Human Rights Watch.

The New-York-based group says that Tamil Tiger fundraisers are increasingly strong-arming the Toronto Tamil community -- the largest Diaspora group outside of war-torn Sri Lanka — as their island nation once again girds for civil war.

Canadian Tamils who don't give money to the separatist cause, according to Human Rights Watch, face the prospect of being beaten or having family members being abused abroad. “Canada is not actually a democracy because we can't open our mouths against the LTTE,” one Toronto Tamil told Human Rights Watch.

That may change under the Conservative government, which is not beholden to immigrant bloc votes in Toronto such as the Tamil vote:

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day may take the document more seriously. He is studying the issue as the new Conservative government prepares to follow the lead of the United States and Britain, in formally declaring the LTTE a terrorist group. “We are aware of this report. The minister has a copy and he will review it for sure,” said Mélisa Leclerc, a spokeswoman for Mr. Day.

Last year, while an Opposition MP , Mr. Day said that the LTTE has “perfected the art of suicide bombing, they have done more suicide attacks than al-Qaeda, they have assassinated world leaders ... [and] they recruit children into death squads.”

For too long, the Tamil Tigers have been able to get away with this extortion because of two divergent but not mutually exclusive reasons.

First, the federal Liberals were carrying out a kinder, gentler form of intimidation on the Tamil community, just as they have on other immigrant communities. Vote Liberal, donate to the Liberals, or risk not being able to bring your friends and family over.

Second, exaggerated multicultural sensitivities made the Tigers untouchable by law enforcement. Cries of racism and prejudice would have gone up if the police started going after the extortionists with any vigour, just as they do whenever the police start cracking down on Jamaican gangs and drug dealers.

This second part, of course, creates a Hobson's choice for law enforcement; do nothing and be branded racist for letting the criminals rule the roost in minority communities, do something and be branded racist for targeting them.

Perhaps not having any Toronto MPs, and thus no fear of losing seats in Toronto, is an advantage to the Conservative government in this case. They can order CSIS and the RCMP into action without worrying about voters that were never theirs to lose.

Source: Globe and Mail

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