December 10, 2009
Jury of One
Residents opposed to a proposed Sikh temple on Clair Road on the grounds that it will lead to traffic and noise issues should tell some of their neighbours to shut their racist mouths.
I don’t doubt the vast majority of residents expressing concern about the proposal at 410 Clair Rd. are doing so for what might be legitimate neighbourhood reasons.
But their arguments are being severely undermined by racist comments included in a couple of letters to city hall and, far more commonly, the anonymous world of online blogs.
Consider that Coun. Ian Findlay, by far the most prolific blogger among the 12 councillors, posted an item about the proposal on his blog last week and has collected more than 80 comments. Most of the comments have focused on concerns surrounding parking, increased traffic, noise, the size of the building and incompatibility with the neighbourhood.
Fair enough. Those people deserve to have their concerns heard and addressed.
But a disturbing number of the comments seem based on little more than the religion of the applicants.
Given the plans for the temple, a commenter named Layla wrote, “it seems the Sikh community is seeking to expand their community in Guelph, which is what concerns residents as this can create numerous problems since Guelph is used to being the ‘conservative,’ ‘predominantly white’ community.”
Seriously, she wrote that.
When another commenter called “Layla” a bigot, she denied it and went on to explain that many simply feel Guelph “is more ‘royal’ than other cities in Ontario” and problems arise “when someone of (another) race/religion wants to establish themselves in the city.”
Dictionary.com defines bigot as “one who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.”
If the name fits, Layla.
Sadly, she was not alone in her narrow-mindedness.
Another commenter, using the handle Ex-Bramptonian, actually wrote that he “(has) to run to my car because every day I smell like curry that oozes into the neighbourhood.
“I do not mean to sound racist,” Ex-Bramptonian lied, “but I am not afraid to speak frankly and share MY opinion.”
Congratulations, Mr. Bramptonian. Or can I just call you Ex?
Then again, why would you be afraid to share your racist views in an anonymous forum?
These incredible comments, and others like them, only serve to infuriate the vast majority of us who do not share your extreme views, and do nothing at all to further your opposition to the proposed temple.
As I’ve been thinking about it over the last few days, I have compared it to the opposition to the Hanlon Creek Business Park. I know there are many who oppose the business park for what they believe are legitimate environmental reasons, and some have made that point.
Unfortunately, that message was largely lost during the on-site protest at the city’s groundbreaking ceremony, which primarily involved swearing, threats and vulgar gestures.
If right-thinking opponents of the Sikh temple hope to gain traction with their arguments, they need to identify Layla, Ex-Bramptonian and the other hate-mongers who are clouding the issue and make them stop. I’m guessing they’ll be identifiable by their red necks.
Scott Tracey is a Mercury staff writer. His Jury of One column appears Fridays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source has no comments. The blog post it refers to however, does. And it's grown from the original 80...
When I was home for the weekend I saw a couple articles (including this opinion piece) about a recently proposed Sikh temple and thought the population of ONTD_p would be interested in the story. (Also, first post! yay!) Unfortunately, The Guelph Mercury which ran the story requires you buy the article, so I'm stuck just providing you with the opinion piece (also from the Guelph Mercury) based on it.
Guelph is about an hour from Toronto, and has a population of about 200,000. Currently the nearest Sikh temple is basically in Toronto, so all the Sikhs I knew when I lived in Guelph had to go all the way there (which can be a horrible drive) for worship. There are alot of Christian churches in Guelph, many which are in residential areas, so it's not like this kind of zoning is unheard of in the city.