"The World Tamil Movement has been involved in raising funds to support … the Tamil Tigers," Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said in announcing the ban, making a point to do so in Toronto. When the government banned the Tigers in 2006, Mr. Day hailed the decision as "long overdue and something the previous government did not take seriously enough to act upon."
With the war now over, and their old Liberal allies sidelined federally and under threat in Ontario, Tamil power brokers bent on breaking into government have few practical options beyond the Conservatives.
In turn, the party - whose hunger for South Asian votes was exposed in an accidental leak from Mr. Kenney's office this week - is returning the Tamils' longing gaze, even as it redrafts refugee laws due to shiploads of migrants arriving last year.
"The Conservatives have been trying to get in touch with various Tamil groups and formations," said Rudhramoorthy Cheran, a University of Windsor professor and poet with deep respect among Canadian Tamils. "Tamils have also realized that they can't put all their eggs in one basket" as they had with the Liberals.
A senior Conservative with experience in office, speaking on condition of anonymity, said his party appears to have abandoned due caution. "What it smacks of is expedience, but it smacks as well of trying to find the quick way to win support from those communities," he said.
Mr. Gunaratnam, the NCCT architect, said Conservatives have nothing to fear from his group's engagement with the party, and Canadians need not worry that the Tigers - which he pronounced "done and gone" - might regroup on home soil.
"People like me, we're very practical people; there's no point in going back at what happened wrong in the past because it's not going to help you," he said. "[The Tigers]are not a factor any more, but the Tamil factor is still lingering large."
At the end of a long, rambling interview, Mr. Gunaratnam mentioned as an aside that he, too, took a phone call from KP, the Tiger leader, after the war ended. He said he rebuffed an invitation to work for the new leader.
"I said, 'No, sorry, I'm not going to work for anyone [with the Tigers]because I didn't do it before, either,'" he said. "I'm not going to be part of those politics at all; that's a very clear stand that I always have."
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