Artsfile: Thinking global and acting local with KUNÉ

“In 2016, Mervon Mehta was puzzling over a problem: How was the Royal Conservatory of Music participate in the celebrations around the 150th anniversary of Confederation?

“I was actually watching one of the federal election leaders’ debates and Justin Trudeau had said something that was vaguely socialist. And Stephen Harper turned to him and said, ‘You know Justin,’ looking down his nose, ‘that may work in your circle but old stock Canadians will never go for that’.

“I remember thinking what’s an old stock Canadian. I hadn’t heard that term before. I thought it was so condescending, so politically divisive and a dog whistle and thought well, wait a minute I’m half Saskatchewan and half Mumbai, India. Am I old stock or new stock?

Mehta, who is the son of Zubin Mehta, the legendary conductor and singer Carmen Lasky. He was born in Vienna but moved to Canada in 1962.

Harper’s words started him thinking…”

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Alice Sellwood