Canadian politicians seem un-able to resist using rhetoric and fabrications. This can be seen when they talk of this country’s immigration policies and laws. They speak of immigration laws and policies that have always been and continue to reflect an open and fair immigration process. That Canada has a history of mistreating certain types of refugees and immigrants does little to stop Canadian politicians from referring to Canada’s immigration laws as being a shining example for other countries to follow.
Politicians at all levels of government, regardless of political stripe continue to make the claim, despite evidence to the contrary, that Canada has always and continues to:
- welcome with open arms all those in need of shelter from oppression and, tyranny regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, or religion.
- treat those who immigrated to this country in search of a better way of life with respect, fairness and equality, regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, or religion.
Canada’s history speaks of a Canada that has not so welcoming and generous to refugees and people seeking to immigrate to Canada: A Canada different from the one praised in the rhetoric of Canadian politicians.
Canadian history shows that time after time, Canada has been guilty of discrimination in its immigration policies and laws. Canada throughout its history has shown a willingness to :
- to use certain races of people as a source of cheap labor, to get difficult and often dangerous jobs accomplished;
- force them out of the country when they no longer needed.
What the Canadian government and the CPR did to Chinese laborers once the railroad was completed is a perfect example of what I am talking about.
After the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed, many Chinese were left without work. Considered no longer useful to both the CPR and the Canadian government, the government of Canada past The Chinese Immigration Act, 1885 which imposed a $50 “Head Tax” on any Chinese coming to Canada. When this failed to deter Chinese immigration to Canada, the government of Canada passed:
- the Chinese Immigration Act, 1900 which increased the tax to $100;
- the Chinese Immigration Act, 1903 increased the landing fees to $500, equivalent to $8000 in 2003. – as compared to the Right of Landing Fee, or Right of Permanent Residence Fee, of merely $975 per person paid by new immigrants in 1995–2005, and further reduced to $490 in 2006. In addition to federal legislation, municipal ordinances restricted employment opportunities even in industries not desirable to white Canadians, such as laundries;
- the Chinese Immigration Act, 1923, better known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, replaced prohibitive fees with a ban on Chinese immigration to Canada with the exceptions of merchants, diplomats, students, and “special circumstances” cases. The Chinese that entered Canada before 1924 had to register with the local authorities and could leave Canada only for two years or less.
The Chinese immigration Act, 1923 was not repealed until 1947
Canada’s immigration policy was also unfair to Black people wanting to immigrate to Canada. In the late nineteenth century, the Canadian government had an unofficial policy of restricting immigration by Black people:
- in 1911 Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier formalised this policy;
- “His excellency in Council, in virtue of the provisions of Sub-section (c) of Section 38 of the Immigration Act, is pleased to Order and it is hereby Ordered as follows: For a period of one year from and after the date hereof the landing in Canada shall be and the same is prohibited of any immigrants belonging to the Negro race, which race is deemed unsuitable to the climate and requirements of Canada.”
Canada maintained its restrictions of immigration until 1962, when racial rules were eliminated from the immigration laws.
Canada has become an expert at officially apologizing and compensating, immigrants and refugees past Canadian governments have been guilty of mistreating. The proof of this can be found in how many times modern-day prime ministers, premiers and mayors have officially apologized for the Canadian government’s mistreatment of refugees and immigrants.
Three modern-day prime ministers, at least two premieres and a few mayors have officially apologized for Canada’s mistreatment of refugees and immigrants trying to gain entry to Canada and the continued mistreatment of them when, they did manage to gain entry. Here is a list of a few of them:
- In 1988 Prime Minister Brian Mulroney formally apologized to Japanese Canadian survivors and their families, for their internment during the Second World War. Twenty two thousand Japanese Canadians were uprooted from their homes, separated from their families and sent away to camps. Not one was ever charged with an act of disloyalty. They also received a $300 million compensation package. The $300 million compensation package included $21,000 for each of the 13,000 survivors, $12 million for a Japanese community fund, and $24 million to create a Canadian race relations foundation, to ensure such discrimination never happened again.
- In 2006 Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized and made payments of 20,000 dollar each to Chinese-Canadians who paid the head tax or to their surviving spouses. Premiere Christie Clark of British Columbia not only indorsed the apology, but also apologized for the BC government of the day supporting the head tax and accepting head tax payments.
- In 2008 Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized at an event in British Columbia for the turning away of the Komagata Maru from Hong Kong. It arrived off Vancouver in 1914, with 376 passengers on board. Most of them were Sikhs from India. They were denied entry due to immigration laws at the time. The ship was eventually sent to Calcutta, and least 19 people were killed in a skirmish with British soldiers. Others were jailed.
- 2016 Prime Minister Trudeau apologized for Canada’s 1914 rejection of South Asia immigrants. Canadian officials refused to allow the Indians in, even though they were British subjects. This differed from the way other British subjects were dealt with by Canadian immigration.
- 2016 A display now on at the Museum of Industry in Stellarton tells the sad tale of the St. Louis and its ill-fated passengers. In 1939 and 907 Jewish refugees aboard the German transatlantic liner St. Louis, sought sanctuary from Nazi Germany in Canada. Canada refused to take them in and the ship sailed back to Europe, where 254 would later die in concentration camps.
- The forced relocation of the Africville residents occurred between 1964 and 1967. The last house was bulldozed January 2, 1970. The federal, provincial, and civic government chose not to save this community. Neither did the other good citizens of Halifax, or Nova Scotia at the time. For the most part they were given $5oo. Some people were fortunate and given new homes and property, but most were taken to the city of Halifax where prejudice, and lack of education help to keep them poor. As such the forced relocation became a swap of one ghetto for another. The memorial to the town of Africville. It reads “Landed Deeded 1848-1969. Dedicated in loving memory of the first black settlers and all the former residents of the community of Campbell Road, Africville and all the members of the Seaview United Baptist Church.”
A Canadian prime minister in the not too distant future, will no doubt be making an official apology to the 492 Tamil refugees sought asylum in Canada, from oppression and, tyranny. They were not made welcome, but were subjected to non-sympathetic Immigration Minister, named Jason Kenney.
Here are some of the actions of former Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney that I believe Canada will be apologizing for:
- in 2010 he had 492 Tamil refugees ( Muslim men, women and children) found aboard the ship, MV Sun Sea, who were seeking asylum in Canada, arrested and detained;
- he rewrote immigration law so that he could hold the Tamil refugees incommunicado, thus denying them fair and timely access to hearings and the court process;
- he ignored that the Tamil refugees were fleeing persecution, and a country engaged in a bitter civil war;
- he personally helped gay men escape Iran and made it possible for them to jump the immigration waiting list; starting a year earlier and continuing all through 2010;
- he told Canadians that all must get in line, because Canada could not afford cost of taking in refugees such as found on the MV Sun Sea.
- 2012 the Bill C-31: An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,
the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act .
Douglas Quan , wrote in the National Post on August 6, 2015 , in an article titled, Five years after the MV Sun Sea’s arrival, crackdown on ‘irregular arrivals’ draws praise, scorn:
- “As of July 22, 228 passengers had been accepted as refugees and 116 were rejected, an acceptance rate of about 63 per cent.”
- “Another 26 were ordered deported after being deemed inadmissible because of criminal histories, membership in a terrorist group or for war crimes. Many migrants remain in protracted court battles.
- “At the heart of many cases is whether publicity surrounding the Sun Sea puts migrants at risk of human rights abuses if returned to Sri Lanka.”
Some people would say that Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada are changing Canada for the better where admitting refugees into Canada is concerned, but I disagree. I believe that in order to do the right thing by all refugees and immigrants, Bill C-24, or Citizen Act needs to be repealed.
Fast tracking those 25,000 Syrian refugees:
- showed just how selective and exploitive the Canadian government can be when it comes to helping people who face death on a daily basis, because of their ethnicity, religion, race, or culture;
- showed that the Liberal government of Canada ignored the suffering of others with the same need, who had been waiting for a chance to escape death longer. so they could look good in an election year;
- provided Justin Trudeau with some really good photo opts.
The Liberal’s exploitation of the Syrian refugee crisis to gain political points in an election year worked out well for the 25,000 Syrians, but it was so unfair to the millions of refugees who have been waiting in death camps for a very long time now. If taking in refugees and saving lives, is as easy as taking in the 25,000 Syrians, how could Canada have stood by and not helped as those being oppressed, and murdered in Zimbabwe, the Congo, Saudi Arabia, and Mauritania? Why did Canada not help the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority in Burma? They have been called “the most oppressed people on Earth”.
Why did Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government of Canada not make it a priority in the first 100 days of their governance to repeal the Harper government’s anti-immigrant, anti-Canadian, anti-democratic, and unconstitutional Citizen Act, or Bill C-24? It might not have brought a sexy photo opt, like handing out jackets to Syrian families at the airport in -20 degrees for the PM, but it sure might have:
- given hope to a lot of other refugees who have been waiting in death camps for more than 10 years awaiting their chance to immigrate to Canada, to live in peace and freedom;
- saved Canada some future apologies and money spent on compensation;
- brought Canada one step closer to telling the truth when its politicians claim that Canada:
- welcomes with open arms all those in need of shelter from oppression and, tyranny, regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, or religion;
- treats those who immigrate to this country in search of a better way of life with respect, fairness and equality, regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, or religion.
Note: No Canadian politician has ever officially, or un-officially apologised to any Black person for the immigration policy that unjustly kept Black people from immigrating to Canada.