January 10, 2016 12:24 pm
Updated: January 10, 2016 12:58 pm

Is there a political cost to being politically correct?

Former B.C. premier and former cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh tells Tom Clark white politicians need to freely express themselves on issues like language, race and ethnicity.

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Is there such a thing as being too politically correct? And is even asking that question enough to elicit raised eyebrows and accusations of racism, sexism or other forms of discrimination?

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Ujjal Dosanjh, the former premier of British Columbia and a former federal cabinet minister, set out to tackle those issues in an article penned for the National Post last week entitled “By silencing white men, Canada can’t have an honest debate about equality, race and culture.”

Suffice it to say, it got people talking.

Dosanjh joined the West Block’s Tom Clark this weekend to discuss his article and where we go from here.

“I think one of the problems is that on issues of language, race, culture, ethnicity, religion, white politicians in power particularly, silence themselves for fear of rebuke from guys like me,” said Dosanjh, who is of Indian background.

“And the issue of political correctness comes up, you know, with all of my friends, no matter what colour or ethnicity they’re from. Be they Chinese, be they Indians, be they brown, be they white, be they black, and all of us talk about it in our private lives, but nobody really wants to speak about it because of what happens. You are ridiculed and you get a lot of abuse.”

Dosanjh said the main trigger for his article was comments made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in which he stated that Canada had no core identity – only shared values. Dosanjh said he believes Canada does indeed have a central identity that should be talked about and defended. He explained that many people seemed to misinterpret the point of his article, believing that he was advocating for white men to have more influence.

“They don’t need more power. They just need to freely express themselves on issues they don’t express themselves on, like language, race, ethnicity, culture or religion … that’s the problem with this concept of multi-culturalism that we misunderstand. If it is to work, it is about everyone having a conversation, and everyone being included. All of us have ethnicities and cultures.”

Asked if the kind of open dialogue he is advocating could give rise to more bigotry of the kind seen in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Dosanjh said there’s a difference between open dialogue and outright racism.

“Trump is an idiot,” he said. “No, not that kind (of rhetoric). The problem is when we don’t have an ongoing conversation, where some people feel that they need to censor themselves, then you give rise to the Trumps of the world. and they gain credibility and that’s very dangerous for the country and society.”

Watch the full interview above.

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