POLITICS

Wladyslaw Lizon, Conservative MP: Speak Indian, He Asks In Newsletter

01/20/2012 06:48 EST | Updated 01/21/2012 02:17 EST
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Do you speak Indian? A Conservative MP wants to know.

Wladyslaw Lizon, the new Tory MP from Mississauga East—Cooksville, recently sent a newsletter to his riding that has constituents raising their eyebrows.

“I’m puzzled, confused, bewildered and seriously concerned about some major mistakes,” Oleh Michael Romaniuk wrote to the editor of his local newspaper The Mississauga News, about a survey he'd received from Lizon asking about the primary language spoken at home.

Who in Lizon’s office was responsible for such a gaffe, he wondered.

“The questionnaire asks if people in some households speak Indian as their primary language? What does that mean? India is a country, a recognized geographical state with 18 official languages. Hindu [sic], Punjabi, Gujarati and Urdu represent the most commonly spoken languages among city residents who came from India,” Romaniuk wrote.

“Perhaps this question was not directed to people from India at all, but rather, referred to Native Indians? … (or) Maybe (Lizon’s office) was referring to languages spoken by people of the West Indies?,” the Mississauga resident wondered.

“Citizens expect and deserve greater respect and more knowledgeable representatives in government,” he concluded in his letter.

On Friday, Lizon characterized the wording as more of a tempest in a typo.

"My office made an error in getting some letters out quickly," he said. "It should have said 'an Indian language' with a space for the recipient to write the specific language. It should not have said 'Indian.'

Liberal multiculturalism critic Jim Karygiannis called on Lizon to apologize and reimburse taxpayers for the cost of mailing out the “ill-informed survey” that had “insulted” his Indo-Canadian constituents.

In a press release, Karygiannis noted there were 22 recognized regional languages in India and none of them were referred to as “Indian.”

“It is amazing to me that an MP representing such an ethnically-diverse riding would be so ill-informed. This is like asking someone if they speak “Canadian” or “Mexican,” Karygiannis said.