More on SLUNA in Canada


Several members of the Sri Lanka United Association of Canada responded to last week’s column on my Salute to SLUNA. The first one came from Vijitha Bulathsinhala in Toronto.

"One incident came to my mind. I hope you are aware that I am one of the few people who went to an LTTE meeting to prevent them from passing a resolution in the Canadian Parliament when they held a meeting with Canadian Members of Parliament, during the height of the war in Sri Lanka.

"When we came to know about this meeting, President of SLUNA, Mahinda Gunasekara was in Sri Lanka and he asked us to attend to it. Daya Hettiarachchi, Prathap Perera, Aloy Perera and I went to the meeting where each person was given a chance to speak for a short time. Canadian Tamil children who were taught and brainwashed by the LTTE terrorists to relate stories, said Sri Lankan government bombs fell on the heads of their uncles/aunties and other relatives. They cried on stage as taught by the LTTE in Canada and made a great impression on the naïve Canadian lawmakers. Then we got the opportunity and requested Aloy to speak. Immediately after his introduction and but, before he made the real presentation, the Guyanese Indian moderator told him "Your time is over" One could say that Perera wasn't allowed to make his presentation. When Daya Hettiarachchi got the opportunity, he went a little further and tried to explain the situation. However, the biased moderator intervened again and stopped Daya, when it came to the most important part of his presentation.

"When it came to my turn, without any introductions, I said: "I came to know that this gathering is trying to influence Members of Parliament to pass a resolution to pressure the government of Sri Lanka to stop the war. This gathering here does not properly represent all Sri Lankans. It is wrong to even suggest that this is a request made by all Sri Lankans. If you try to pass a resolution here, it will become null and void since it is not from all Sri Lankans. The majority of the people who are gathered here are LTTE supporters and sympathizers". Then the crowd started to disturb and interrupt me and started to shout against me angrily. I calmly said it was my turn and this is what I had to say. This is a democratic country so let me say what I have to say and I continued during the little time I was allocated to speak.

"Later Daya Hettiarachchi told me he was of the view that surprisingly MP Jim Karygaianis had seriously considered my speech, and mentioned that Sri Lankans were not fully represented at the meeting. The resolution was not submitted to the Canadian parliament."

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) under the banner Desha Hithaishi Jathika Viyaparaya in Canada, also organised a protest against the LTTE in Yonge Street I don't know for what. Some well known Sri Lankans in Canada did not take part in that protest thinking the LTTE would harass them later. The LTTE did harass most Sri Lankans in Canada. It is sad that we who worked and fought against the LTTE have become villains today and LTTE supporters have become friends of the new government of Sri Lanka!"

A veteran of SLUNA from Ottawa, Asoka Weerasinghe wrote, "Just read your Assignment Toronto. Thanks for supporting us with your very generous words. The most valuable and honest words were when you said, "It is wrong for the government of Sri Lanka to take that credit." They were too ready to ride on our backs while sitting on their haunches educating their kids.

Trying to get one of our petitions tabled in Parliament was a difficult exercise.

Mahinda Gunasekara had come to Ottawa for his annual company meeting and he managed to find time to go around with me knocking at the doors of the Reform Party Parliamentarians on the West Block, when luck came our way; Val Meredith, MP for a British Columbia riding promised to present it for us. The petition had 2,000 signatures.

She told us that a petition only needed 25 signatures to be presented in Parliament, and that she would break it into four petitions and present it to parliament saying, "Mr. Speaker, I have another petition from the Sri Lankan-Sinhalese Canadian community who are concerned about ... (and so forth.)

Secondly, Mahinda Gunasekara asked me to represent SLUNA at the round-table conference on the anti-terrorism bill at the West Block chaired by the Liberal Justice Minister Irvin Cotler. Before I left the conference, I handed my file to a female Lawyer one who was drafting the report and told her, "Don't hold back on our presentation. I am sure there were many valuable statements in our presentation". So, our presentation appeared on page 6 on the report to be presented to the Cabinet. She contacted me several times at home to clarify some aspects of our presentation.

Thirdly, Art Hanger, was the MP for Calgary South-East. I asked him to help us by tabling our petition in Parliament, he complied.

These are just a few heroics of our community members in Canada who still continue to battle the LTTE and its supporters.

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