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Friday, March 06, 2015 05:28 PM

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Is the Toronto Star trying to destroy Harinder Takhar, simply obsessed with him or being racist?

Some Toronto political and media watcher are wondering why the Toronto Star has published a series of articles and columns negatively portraying Ontario Liberal Party leadership hopeful Harinder Takhar.

The Star has run four stories in the last two and a half months that (correctly) stated that in 2006 the province’s integrity commissioner censured Mr. Takhar for breaking the Members’ Integrity Act by appointing as trustee of Mr. Takhar’s blind trust the person who was at the same time the President of Mr. Takhar’s riding associations. 

While one can question as to why  Star readers need to be informed of this lapse in judgment by Mr. Takhar, not once but four times during a very short leadership campaign, perhaps that would be quibbling. 

What is unfair, objectionable and I  have no hesitation characterizing as unabashedly racist, however, is the front page story in the January 21, 2013 edition of the Star.  The Star reports that a company placed in Mr. Takhar’s blind trust was cited for various infractions of the labour safety code long after Mr. Takhar ceased to have control of that company.

What is the point in publishing this article?  How do labour code violations by a company that Mr. Takhar no longer controls have anything to do with Mr. Takhar’s suitability as a Liberal leadership candidate or his competence and suitability to serve in a senior position in the next Ontario government which we all know will be headed by either Ms. Sandra Pupatello or Ms. Kathleen Wynne?

Either the Star understands how a blind trust functions or it doesn’t.  It is a given that the Star fully comprehends how a blind trust functions and  is very much aware that because of the blind trust Mr. Takhar has no information about or input into the day to day operations of companies in the blind trust. 

Therefore, when an entity such as the Star publishes this type of a story the only logical conclusion is that it is nothing but a complete hatchet job because the Star has an irrational fear of Mr. Takhar who is of South Asia origin and/or the Star believes that Canadians of South Asian origin do not deserve to hold a senior position in the Ontario cabinet because they are shady operators.

If this story does not demonstrate plain and simple xenophobia on the part of the Star what other possible way can we understand the logic behind the publishing of this story, let alone publishing it on the front page?

The Star’s obsession with Mr. Takhar appears to have left the newspaper no time challenge Ms. Pupatello and Ms. Wynne on their records on First Nations issues or to call-out Mr. Eric Hoskins and Mr. Gerard Kennedy for pandering to some teacher’s unions.

The Star should have an unfettered right to publish almost anything as the “marketplace of ideas” is one of the pillars of the Liberal democracy  we are so luck to live in.  But surely, along with the freedom to publish the Star also has the obligation not to be so utterly racist.  

The Star owes Mr. Takhar an apology – on the front page.

Viresh Fernando is Toronto based Lawyer, Writer and Political Junkie

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