Monday, August 27, 2012
MLA Brar under
attack over communism comments
Released by the BC Liberal Caucus
a radio interview last week, NDP MLA Jagrup Brar expressed over the
top admiration for nanny state communist Cuba. This begs the
question, does Adrian Dix agree with Brar that state-run everything
is the right model for British Columbia, or will Dix distance
himself from his communist-infatuated MLA?
"Sometimes when people are
most relaxed, such as after a refreshing holiday in the Caribbean,
they are most likely to express their innermost thoughts. In this
case, Jagrup may well have given us a glimpse into the secret
desires of the BC NDP Caucus," said Bill Bennett, MLA from Kootenay
According to Brar, who represents the constituency of
Surrey-Fleetwood, Cuba is a terrific model for B.C. because, "The
gap between rich and poor is not there or very minimal," and
"Because they have distributed their resources in a more fair way
than us [sic]." (Radio India, Aug. 24, 2012)
MLA Brar also asserts that Cuba has a low crime rate because, "Guns
are only issued to soldiers or police personnel. Otherwise, you
canít carry a gun or get a gun license under any circumstance."
(Radio India, Aug. 24, 2012)
"Jagrup's interview should be a wake-up call for any British
Columbian who values individual enterprise and individual freedom,"
Bennett says. "While Cubans risk their lives in tiny fishing boats
across shark-infested waters to escape one of the world's last
communist regimes, the BC NDP seems to suggest British Columbia
ought to copy Cuba's approach."
"Frankly, Jagrup's comments remind me of the politician who doesn't
think his microphone is on. I for one have zero interest in living
in a state where individual effort and ambition is discouraged,
where censorship is rampant and freedom of speech is non-existent.
Mr. Brar should immediately retract his comments and apologize to
the Cuban Canadians," added MLA Bennett.
Audio (in Punjabi) of the interview can be found
Transcript of radio
interview between Radio India host Gurpreet Singh and BC NDP MLA
Radio India, Friday, August 24, 2012
Interviewer: Gurpreet Singh (GS) Interviewee: Jagrup Brar (JB)
GS: Mr. Brar, welcome to our program.
JB: Gurpreet ji, thank you very much.
GS: So Mr. Brar, you had recently gone to Cuba on a personal
trip. While there, what did you notice about the health care system
and welfare system and what were your thoughts on them?
JB: Gurpreet ji, overall my trip to Cuba was very pleasant.
Itís a beautiful country. We spent seven days at a resort in a city
called Veradero. Itís a beautiful city. During those seven days, we
visited five provinces and looked at various cities in those
provinces. We visited Havana, the capital city and also did a boat
cruise. We also toured a monument erected to Che Guevera, who was a
very big hero during the revolution. That was in Santa Clara. Also
on the other side of the Island thereís a city called (inaudible) we
also visited. We saw a lot of cities and a lot of villages. All in
all if I was to make a statement of what I witnessed.
Based on my observations. The gap between rich and poor is not there
or very minimal. Nor is there an individual who doesnít have a place
to sleep or food to eat. Nor is there a child who goes to bed
Nor are there any extremely wealthy billionaires who donít have an
idea of how much wealth they have and have numerous boats, planes or
million dollar palaces. We traveled a lot, as I mentioned and met
with many individuals whom I had the opportunity to speak with. The
conversations I had with these individuals, I want to share those
The first being on the issue of education. All the schools and
education are totally free. There are no private schools. All
schools are public schools. All the schools have uniforms. Even
university and college education is free after finishing school, you
have to write an exam. If you pass that exam, whichever degree you
want to obtain, your admission is based on that. When you pass that
exam, your university and college education is totally free. If you
need to stay in a hostel all your room and board is covered. All
your books are also free. In every province, they have erected three
universities with lots of planning. One university is a medical
college, for medical education; the second is for teachers and to
train professors and the third is for general studies.
As for the topic of health care; um, I will say that despite us
being a wealthy society, we have not yet been able to reduce
university tuition fees. We are thousands of miles away from it, but
over there itís free.
GS: This is why there have been mass protests in Montreal.
JB: Yes. As you know in Montreal, there have been student
agitations for a long time. In BC as well, the highest debt for
students are the student loans which they have taken. Health care,
as well, Gurpreet ji, people tell me is all free. There are no
private clinics in the entire country. All the medications, not just
getting the prescription from the doctors, but all of the medication
is also completely free. Dental care, care for teeth, is also
This is the reason why in our country, even though we are considered
amongst the wealthy nations, dental care is not free. For average
citizens itís a far gone situation but even for the poorest in our
society we have not been able to provide free dental care. The wait
time is very little compared to us.
When you go to your doctor, to see your doctor, after 5:00pm the
doctors are closed but they have mega clinics where you can go and
see a doctor and get any medication you need. In this essence, I
touched upon it earlier, they have a government policy that no child
there can go to sleep hungry. There, the government gives one litre
of milk free to each child up to the age of seven. They ship the
milk no matter where the child is.
Also I noticed all of the streets, the villages are very clean,
Gurpreet ji, because in in the villages, they have removed all of
the cattle and livestock and moved them to all of the outlying
farms. All of the streets are clean and well cared for. The
landscaping around the streets is well maintained. The landscaping
is very nicely done, it is a very green country.
They have storms but there is no dirt or debris to be found
anywhere. The people in the villages, their main transportation is
by horse or bicycle. There are lots of people travelling by
horseback or horse and buggy for some farmers or bicycles. The
people are very beautiful, healthy and strong. People roam free in
the streets whether in the cities or in the villages. I witnessed
young women in the streets catching rides or waiting for the bus. A
single woman can easily walk around the streets at 2:00 at night and
no one bothers her.
This is the type of safe environment they have created. Whether itís
the city or the village, everyone is dressed the same. They wear
similar clothes. Even my guide, he had travelled out of Cuba
extensively and had even visited Canada. He told me that the ďrat
raceĒ that exists in our society, doesnít take place there. He said
they enjoy their lives and live their lives to the fullest. Thatís
the type of life there. And the crime there, Gurpreet ji, you just
spoke, before me, with a reporter in New York. No citizen there can
get a gun. Guns are only issued to soldiers or police personnel.
Otherwise, you canít carry a gun or get a gun license under any
In the same way, when it comes to drugs, especially in our country
you have methadone or marijuana, they are so rare itís almost as if
they donít have those drugs there. Thatís why when it comes to gangs
based on the drug trade, there are very few there. Youíll see there
at night or day, there is no danger. You can safely walk the
streets. As I said before, young girls walk the streets at night and
there is no danger to anyone. When you compare it to our society,
the Cubans donít have as much right to free speech and lack the
freedom to travel outside the country. People here can go to other
countries and travel, if they have the means. However there, peoples
incomes are less there.
But each citizens basic needs are completely being met. Also the
business community there as a percentage, compared to ours, is quite
low. No person there can open a business and become a
multi‐millionaire overnight or after two, or five years because
their system is different.
The final thing I want to say is, Fidel Castro who has stayed as
President and now his brother Raul Castro is the President.
Throughout the entire country you will not find a statue or picture
or poster of them anywhere. I had gone with the assumption I would
see lots of pictures of the President or statues of him everywhere.
The only statue or posters they have of anyone are those of the
National Hero, I mentioned before. He came from Argentina. He was a
qualified doctor who helped them fight for independence.
Afterwards they even made him a Minister. He was Minister of
industry and also in charge of the National Bank. He left Cuba and
went to other countries to help them revolt where he was killed. His
statues are all over the country. Huge statues have been erected all
over in his honor. There is also a big memorial in his honor.
The last thing I want to say is that as far as the average citizens
daily life is concerned, two things are famous. The first is the rum
from there. You can go to any store, any pub, any hotel, anyplace.
The Havana Rum is available everywhere and is very cheap. The second
thing is the cigars from there are very famous.
This is my brief observation that the gap between the rich and the
poor does not exist. As in our country, the downtown eastside in
Vancouver, which people say is one of the most beautiful cities in
the world and is a city in a wealthy nation. What we see there in
the downtown eastside, we donít see such a place in Cuba. It exists
in a rich society but there, in Cuba, it is not. Because they have
distributed their resources in a more fair way than us.
GS: Brar Sahib, when I went there, I also came back with the
same impressions as you. There is no gap between rich and poor. The
biggest thing is that there are no projections of Castro anywhere as
you would expect to see in a dictatorial society, where there a lot
of projections of dictators. I want to ask you, when you stayed on
welfare for a month, Kevin Falcon made a comment on Cuba. He said
that, that kind of poverty cannot come here. How do you weigh in on
JB: Look. Mr. Falcon. What he said, only he can tell you what
he meant by it. The picture Iíve painted for you is what Iíve seen
with my own eyes. There in Cuba, the type of extreme poverty that
you see in our country; that you see in the United States, the
countries that fly the banner of wealth. You wonít see this type of
poverty there. As I told you before, I didnít come across a single
person that someone would be afraid to walk by. Every citizen there
gets a place to sleep, a roof over their head, food to eat, everyone
gets that. In our country you will see that in many cities, you will
find many homeless people. You wonít find homeless people in Cuba.
Whatever he meant by that statement and why he said, only he can
explain that, but what Iíve seen is very different.
GS: Canadians travel to Cuba in large numbers. It is obvious
that Americans have put restrictions which donít make it possible
for them to go. But here, our past Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
took a different stance and maintained a harmonious relationship
with Cuba. This is the reason why Canadians can freely travel there
in large numbers. Do you want to say anything about this?
JB: There, Gurpreet ji, there, youíre absolutely right, at
this time their (inaudible) industry due to some global
restrictions. Some of their economic limitations as you said, they
were the target of the Cold War. Due to which they were unable to
develop many of their industries properly, which they could have.
They donít have many trade relationships which they can develop.
Cuba can, on a large scale, produce sugar cane and fruit and lots of
coffee. Due to the sanctions placed by lots of countries who are
under the influence of America they are not trading with them. This
is affecting their economy. They have done beautiful work with their
tourism industry. Which they have grown quite well. They have built
beautiful resorts which are relatively cheap.
People from there, have immense respect for Canadians. They respect
Canadians a great deal. As you mentioned, due to Trudeau. The
connections he made. The respect our people gave to them. The
largest number of tourists going there, are Canadians. The majority
of which are people from Montreal. From Quebec. From Ottawa. From
Toronto. Because from there, it is only a three hour, three and a
half hour flight. From here, it is a six hour flight. Number two,
are the Russians and Germans who are travelling there. There are
many tourists coming from many countries. It is a very big industry
for them, the tourism industry at this time. They are operating it
very effectively. And there, as I said earlier, our people have a
lot of respect.
GS: Lastly I want to know. When we talk about the
post‐colonial era. At this time, it is a very big philosophical
question. We say that we should forget the colonial mindset, but
Canada and other wealthy countries are saying Cuba is lacking this
and that. But do you feel there are things in Cuba that wealthy
countries should learn?
JB: See, it is clear, Gurpreet Singh, the basic question is,
how are the resources being distributed? The basic question that you
have asked is, Gurpreet, how are the resources being distributed? In
our countries, there is no doubt, that the resources and wealth are
concentrated in the higher ups. Which are very few people, the big
corporations. Whatever is left is with the middle class, and
underneath them are the poor people. But generally if we look at a
society, especially a healthy society, the thing to look at is how
they treat the most vulnerable members. The people we refer to as
poor people, what does society do for them? That is how you
recognize a society. We have stayed behind in this respect.
Even though we have all the resources, the poor people, for a child
of a poor person education has become so costly that if he wants to
become a doctor, he cannot become one. If he wants to become a
teacher, he cannot become one. The issue of equality becomes a
In this same sense, if we cannot provide a place to sleep for our
people, then how can we describe the beauty of our country? The
thing we need to learn is, the issue of medical, as I mentioned,
medical services which are ones basic need, today in Canada, despite
our system being okay. But if we compare it with theirs, there, even
dental care is free. We have not been able to go that far.
With education, we are talking about providing affordable education.
That debate is still going on. It should be affordable. We are not
even using the word, free. But there, it is already free. Similarily,
on the issue of crime. There, a person within the country is so
free, that he is able to walk so fearlessly at night, that we canít
even imagine doing the same here. Here, in our own city, at night,
which we consider (inaudible), we are scared to send our kids to
school so they donít become a target of drugs or gangs. These are
not things they worry about there.
GS: Thank you Mr. Brar for participating in our program. We
are thankful to you. We are grateful to you. Our best wishes are
JB: Gurpreet thank you very much.
GS: Thank you.
Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice