Both of my parents are immigrants. My Dad and Mom legally immigrated to Western Canada in the 1970’s. My Mom from the Philippines, my Dad from Hong Kong.
That isn’t the start of my ancestry in Western Canada. My roots in this country go back five generations to the late 1800’s.
My great, great, great Grandfather was among one of the first Chinese laborers who immigrated to Canada, “to make money” as my Dad recently told me.
My Dad and Grandfather did not know much about him, just that his grave is in the Chinese Cemetery off Macleod trail in South Calgary.
For many Chinese-Canadian pioneers, that was their fate. To come to Canada receiving low wages, doing dangerous work, and to be completely cut off from their homeland and families.
I am certain my great, great, great grandfather along with his fellow Chinese peers experienced extreme hardship, racism, and danger. For those enlisted to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway, their pay was 1/3 the pay of white, black, and aboriginal workers. Not only so, they established a reputation for working harder under more austere and hazardous conditions than any other ethnic group of workers.
When the railway was complete, the Canadian government set out to determine if continued immigration of Chinese migrants was in the interest of the country. They decided it was not.
In response, the Federal Government implemented a “head tax” on Chinese immigrants which made it unrealistically expensive for most of them to migrate to Canada. The government later expanded this legislation, outright banning Chinese migration all together. It was not until 1947 that the ban was lifted.
In 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered an apology on behalf of the Government of Canada to survivors and ancestors of early-Chinese Canadian pioneers for this policy. That includes me (although, rightfully, no one in my family received a penny from the government).
While on the surface, it would appear to have been a universally noble gesture. After rational analysis of the times then and now, I can only conclude Mr. Harper’s apology was a mistake.
In the late 1800’s, China was in shambles.
Decades of sectarian violence, foreign economic interventions and military invasions, corrupt government, widespread civil unrest and civil wars claimed the lives of tens of millions of Chinese.
In that era, to escape China was a blessing. To immigrate to a country like Canada, where they would be treated as second class citizens, was like winning a lottery.
So great was the promise of coming to a nation that today we would call exploitative, bigoted, and racist, that literal boatloads of Chinese immigrants (“refugees” would be more appropriate) made the uncertain journey to come to Canada. It is not an unreasonable assertion that had Canada let immigration go unrestrained, millions of such desperate Chinese refugees would have joined them.
Being such a new nation and lacking the basic infrastructure to support it’s own population (as was evident with the necessity of the Canadian Pacific Railway), such an immigration boom would have been an unmitigated disaster, both for the refugees and for Canadian citizens.
The only outcome of uncontrolled migration of foreigners from an impoverished war torn nation would have been the importation of the very poverty and conflict those immigrants were fleeing from. Worse still, such action would have guaranteed the affliction of such horrors on the people of the nation they immigrated to.
Governments have a duty to protect their citizens from such danger. When governments cease protecting their citizens from the encroachment of foreign instability, they undermine both the social fabric of the nation as well as their own legitimacy.
Herein is why I assert Stephen Harper was mistaken to apologize to me for the actions of the Canadian Government towards Chinese immigrants in the 1800’s.
The Government of Canada at the time took action it legitimately considered in the best interest of the nation and it’s people. For such action there should be no need to apologize. It is easy to look at the past through social-justice tinted glasses retroactively and cry out “racism racism racism,” but in reality, uncontrolled immigration of people from a nation that was literally tearing itself to shreds was obviously not in the best interest of a fledgling nation like Canada of the 1890’s.
It is just as obvious for an established nation like Canada of the 2010’s.
In spite of this, Mr. Harper’s apology set a dangerous precedent, now universally accepted in Canada, that we must avoid appearing to be racist and discriminatory at all cost. So extreme is our zeal to maintain the appearance of tolerance, it means allowing immigrants and refugees from the four corners of the earth, irrespective of any danger such allowance may bring to us as Canadian citizens.
Racism and discrimination are horrible practices that have no place in the world.
However, political pandering and political correctness are no excuse for an irresponsible immigration and refugee policy that is killing our nation.
Certainly, if Eastern Canada wants to destroy itself welcoming in immigrants and refugees they lack the proper means to accommodate and who have no interest in integrating, accepting, and contributing to our Canadian way of life, let that be their prerogative.
Out West, we need not put up with their folly or their baseless accusations that we are intolerant or bigoted when we say want no part in it. We have a proud, unique, multi-cultural heritage in the West that is grounded in reality. A heritage that the Eastern Canadian elites are actively seeking to destroy.
The question is, will we stay in this abominable confederation and let them?