Whoever said that politicians are a bunch of cold-hearted bureaucrats hasn’t met Liberal Multiculturalism critic Jim Karygiannis. This man is passionate about politics and not afraid to show it: he cried at least twice during my interview. I could let this go to my head and credit my Oprah/Barbara Walters interviewing techniques but I think he is just comfortable showing emotion.
The two issues that got to him the most were abortion and immigration. Karygiannis has been very open about his pro-life position and you wanted me to ask him how he is able to keep that position in the Liberal party. Karygiannis voted ‘yes’ on motion 312, a motion that asked Parliament to have a discussion on when human life begins. Karygiannis told me he did not want to reopen the abortion debate but simply wanted women to know that they have options when faced with an unwanted pregnancy. He thought of his son-in-law who is adopted. On his wedding day, Karygiannis welcomed him, saying, “he got three families: our family, his adopted family and his natural family.”
Karygiannis was also emotional about immigration and multiculturalism. Many of you wrote in complaining about the months and years you have been waiting to hear about your immigration application. There are currently about a million people in the queue and the wait can take as long as seven years. The Conservative Party says they are doing everything they can to clean up the mess but in some cases this means cancelling people’s applications and getting them to reapply. When I asked Karygiannis what he thought about that, he talked about when his parents decided to immigrate here from Greece. “I was a little youngster and I looked at the flag of Canada, I looked at videos, and said this is where I want to go. So he (Immigration Minister Jason Kenney) took that dream away of kids.” By the way, the Conservatives blame the mess on the previous Liberal government. Karygiannis denied his government’s responsibility.
The emotion really bubbled up when Karygiannis talked about his mother who couldn’t read English very well. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been translated into Greek. When she got to the section on multiculturalism and Canada’s commitment to promote heritage languages, she asked Karygiannis if that means his daughters will get the chance to learn Greek. “Does that mean that your daughters will have an opportunity to learn a heritage language” she asked. “Yes,” Karygiannis told his mother proudly. “Work on pushing for that,” she replied.