The Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran returned to Colombo on Monday (16) after a hectic one week’s tour in Canada.
Before heading to the airport, Wigneswaran addressed a public meeting attended by nearly 600 Lankan Tamil expatriates at the Scarborough University Pan Am stadium.
Wigneswaran, in the last lap of his tour in Canada, which is under freezing conditions these days, was coughing while addressing the gathering and said that his restless hectic tour was the reason for his cough.
At the end of his address he said he was returning to his motherland to continue with duties for his people.
Wigneswaran twice earlier when he attempted to travel to Canada, was not given a visa by the Canadian High Commission in Colombo.
However, with expatriate Tamils in Brampton and Markham cities in Canada succeeding in getting twin city friendship agreements for Vavuniya and Mullaitivu in the Northern Province, Wigneswaran in his capacity as Chief Minister of the Northern Province travelled to Canada to a warm welcome, to participate in the signing of the agreement to link Brampton and Markham with Vavuniya and Mullaitivu, respectively.
The beginning of this year is significant for Sri Lankan expatriate Tamils in Canada, as the Canadian Government has declared January as Tamil Heritage Month in recognition of the contribution made by the Sri Lankan Tamils expatriates to the Canadian society.
With Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau extending his Thai Pongal greetings to his Tamil citizens, he even participated in an event of traditional games to mark the Thai Pongal festival.
Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran became the first Tamil dignitary to arrive in Canada after January was announced as the Tamil Heritage Month in the country.
Wigneswaran during his stay in Canada participated in several events and met some of the key Canadian officials. Some of the meetings participated by the Northern Chief Minister were arranged with the announcements of fund raising for the people affected by war in the North and the East.
Organizers of certain events participated by the Northern Chief Minister were identified for the ‘juggleries’ they did under the banner of LTTE sympathizers.
However, Chief Minister Wigneswaran who was cautious at the events he participated in, while mentioning his firm stance and emphasizing on an international judicial mechanism to deal with alleged war crimes in the island, had appealed to Canadian Tamil expatriates to assist extensively in humanitarian issues in the war-torn North and East.
Chief Minister Wigneswaran also invited the Canadian Tamil expatriates to invest in the Northern Province to enhance the region’s economic activities.
Canada branch of TNA
In the meantime, although Wigneswaran is the Chief Minister of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) led Northern Provincial Council, the Canada branch of the TNA stayed away from according a reception to Wigneswaran.
The Canadian Tamil Congress, a close ally of the Canadian branch of the Tamil National Alliance organized a separate event in Scarborough titled ‘North and East Development’ with the participation of Northern Provincial Council Education Minister, T. Kurukularaja and Health Minister, P. Sathyalingam.
Several Canadian Tamil experts with the participation of Canadian officials made their presence felt with their views and suggestions focusing on the health and education in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
Chief Minister Wigneswaran did not participate in this event. However, according to the Uthayan Canada, a weekly Tamil publication, the NPC Minister of Education T. Kurukularaja had even criticized the Chief Minister on handling issues in the NPC.
Therefore, the visits by NPC Chief Minister and his two ministers invited by the Canadian Tamils of ‘different camps’, highlighted the manner in which Tamil expatriates exploit a crisis situation in the Tamil political scene to work out their own agendas.
It was when Chief Minister Wigneswaran’s Canadian tour was coming to a close a federal judge dismissed an appeal filed by Manickavasagam Suresh against his deportation.
Federal Judge Richard Mosely dismissed the appeal, taking into consideration the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board’s (IRM) findings, clearly indicating Suresh’s close connections with the LTTE’s front organization known as World Tamil Movement in Canada and his involvement in raising funds for the outfit.
Suresh was first arrested in 1995 in Canada. But after a series of legal battles, finally the Federal Court on the basis of ample evidence presented to Court by IRM and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) rejected the appeal made by Suresh and upheld the deportation of Suresh by the IRM.
So the declaration of January as Tamil Heritage Month by the Canadian Government, the visit of Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran to Canada and the deportation of LTTE operative Manickavasagam Suresh have clearly outlined Canada’s as well as the Western world’s outlook towards the positive aspects of the peace building process of a country.
As the LTTE operative Manickavasagam Suresh’s activities of raising funds for militant activities of the LTTE have been found to be war crimes by the Canadian Federal Court, his deportation also gives a firm message to Sri Lanka from Canada with regard to alleged war crimes believed to have been committed during the last phase of the civil war in the island.