Editorial, 3 November 2023
The Armenian St. Mary Church, the Armenian Community Centre, and the only Armenian high school in Toronto overlook the Victoria Park Ave. and the Consumers Road intersection in northeast Toronto. Across the road, on Victoria Park, is a parcel of land where a coffee shop and a mattress store have operated for a many years. The coffee shop is popular meeting place for Armenians, especially young men. Some stand outside, smoke and chat. The small park next to it is also a popular Armenian meeting place.
According to reliable reports, the mattress store will soon vacate and a Turkish restaurant will move to the site. The Turkish owner has paid top price to the landlord to eliminate competing businesses so as to make sure he establishes his Turkish restaurant across the most important Armenian hub of the city.
Of all the countless business sites in Toronto, the Turkish shish-kebab peddler has picked a neighborhood which is not Turkish and is packed by Armenians (residences and businesses).
Reflecting traditional Turkish provocation, there is no doubt the restaurant will have a blood-curdling name (Ataturk?), be emblazoned with the blood-soaked Turkish flags, perhaps photos of Ataturk, the three main genocidiers; Erdogan and Aliyev.
The acquisition of the particular site is no accident. Not too far from the Armenian hub (Shop At Don Mills plaza) a Turk pushed out an Iraqi Christian business by making a financial offer that the owner couldn’t refuse. The opening of the Turkish restaurant is a provocation and aggression. It’s an invitation to Armenians to dare retaliate. There’s no doubt eventually there will be a clash between Armenians who patronize the coffee shop and the next-door restaurant’s Turkish clients. It’s also an invitation to a hot-headed Armenian young man to do damage to the invasive restaurant. And, of course, when that happens, the Turkish propaganda machine will be in full throttle, headed by the motor-mouth Turkish consul of Toronto who will be all over the media condemning Armenian racism, barbarity, and the importing of “foreign and ancient” quarrels to Canada.
The strange fact is that the Armenian Community Centre doesn’t seem to have a plan to legally stop the provocation. The Centre has friends at the City Hall, the provincial and federal parliaments. The Centre’s leaders can contact friendly politicians at various levels of government and explain to them the blatant Turkish provocation. They can explain that the Turk, who is probably not acting on his volition, is inviting Armenians to a fight which Armenians do not seek.
The various levels of the Canadian government spend untold millions to stamp out racism and to make sure the hundreds of ethnic groups which make up Toronto’s population live in harmony. Children as young as four are taught at school about acceptance and tolerance. And yet this nameless restaurateur wants to parachute in the middle of the Armenian community and disturb the peace of the area. If this is not seeking a fight with the Armenian community of Toronto we don’t know what is. It’s certainly not Turkish Delight that the no-name restaurateur will peddle across from the Armenian Centre, church, and school.
The indifference of the leaders of the Armenian Community Centre is not surprising. A few weeks ago, the Centre allowed the sabotage, by several young people, of a fundraiser for Artsakh refugees at the Armenian Community Centre. The demonstrators had hidden in the Centre along with their provocative posters. The young people eventually forced Armenia’s ambassador to leave in disgust. The shameful event was telecast all over Baku TV stations. Is the Centre’s indifference to the opening of the Turk restaurant a sign of sloth? Of incompetence? Of indifference?