Sign vandalized after MP Maxime Bernier calls out Winnipeg park for 'extreme multiculturalism'

Sign vandalized after MP Maxime Bernier calls out Winnipeg park for 'extreme multiculturalism'

Days after Conservative MP Maxime Bernier singled out a Winnipeg park named after a Pakistani leader to demonstrate how multiculturalism has gone too far, the park’s new sign was vandalized.

Masroor Khan was told Friday that the sign bearing the new park’s name, Jinnah Park, was knocked off its perch and left lying against a tree. The discarded wooden stumps suggest the sign’s poles were cut. 

“It’s very hurtful and saddening to see,” said Khan, standing metres from where the sign once stood in Winnipeg’s South Pointe community.

He wants to send a message to Bernier, his supporters and everyone else in Canada that hatred has no place in this country. The city’s Pakistani community will host a celebration of diversity at the park on Sunday. 

“We should be giving a message of peace and love as a revenge, as an answer,” said Khan.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Bernier suggested it was an odd dichotomy that Victoria would remove a statue of Canada’s founder, Sir John A. Macdonald, when Winnipeg recently dedicated a park to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the modern state of Pakistan.

He described it as an example of “extreme Liberal multiculturalism.”

The former Conservative leadership contender also argued the partition of India, which led to the creation of Pakistan in 1947, killed nearly one million people.

Bernier’s remarks came after his series of tweets on the weekend was roundly disparaged for stoking racist and xenophobic tensions.

Conservative Ontario Sen. Salma Ataullahjan, who is Pakistani-Canadian, believes the vandalism is the result of the ‘divisive rhetoric that has been taking place.’ (Submitted)

He has since defended himself by tweeting he did not intend to criticize diversity itself, but “ever more of it.”

One of Bernier’s loudest critics has been Ontario Conservative Sen. Salma Ataullahjan, who is Pakistani-Canadian.

She’s received hate from Bernier’s supporters after suggesting her colleague’s remarks were not merely offensive, but an attempt to divide Canadians of Pakistani origin from other Canadians.

“People who follow Maxime, who have other agendas, are taking it to the next level and this needs to stop,” she told CBC News on Friday.

“If a small corner in a park is named after somebody, how is that offensive? How does that lead to abuse? This has to stop somewhere.”

She received pictures of the sign’s damaged foundation Friday and blamed “divisive rhetoric” for prompting the vandalism.

Ataullahjan said the untoward attention clearly inflamed some people who are critical of the country’s diversity.

Inciting hatred

“There’s a lot of people who will just get incited by this kind of stuff and that’s exactly what happened, what I was afraid of has happened.”

Bernier did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Winnipeg police said late Friday it has not received a police report about the crime.

In response to Bernier’s remarks, people of all cultural backgrounds have been invited to the park on Sunday for a show of Canada’s diversity, hosted by the Pakistani Students’ Association and The Pakistani Association. The formal event will begin at 6 p.m. Khan expects hundreds of people to attend.

Published at Fri, 17 Aug 2018 19:29:01 -0400