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Tory MP to his South Asian constituents: Do you speak 'Indian'?

Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon, shown in Ottawa on Nov. 20, 2011, represents the ethnically diverse Toronto-area riding of Mississauga East-Cooksville.

CHRIS WATTIE/Chris Wattie/Reuters

Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon has raised a little ridicule by sending a survey out in his ethnically diverse riding asking constituents if they speak "Indian."

The problem, of course, is that there is no such language. In India, there are 29 languages each spoken by more than a million people, like Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Punjabi. English, though the first language of few Indians, often serves as a common tongue.

The gaffe question was sent out in a free MP mailer to constituents in Mr. Lizon's Mississauga East–Cooksville riding, which has a sizable South Asian community.

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The mailer included a short survey, and one question asks people the primary language spoken in their household, with English, Polish, Arabic, Mandarin, Italian, and Greek as the other choices.

A Toronto-area Liberal MP, Jim Karygiannis, issued a press release calling the mailer insulting, comparing it to asking someone if they speak Canadian or Mexican.

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About the Author
Chief political writer

Campbell Clark has been a political writer in The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa bureau since 2000. Before that he worked for The Montreal Gazette and the National Post. He writes about Canadian politics and foreign policy. More

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