I was in the studio audience and had a few seconds to explain my point of view on the air. Later the CBC interviewed me to elaborate for the National TV news and a magazine show. I did not explain myself well at all. Here is my attempt to say clearly what I meant to say for that interview.
It is really rather arbitrary who we do let in. Does it really make all that much difference if the person is a queue jumper or one willing to patiently play the immigration game for decades.
Personally I find it repugnant the way Canada steals talent from third world nations. A poor nation like Thailand or Ghana spends millions educating a doctor, then Canada steals them away. We should take a cross section of all economic strata, not scoop the cream from countries who can least afford it.
Let us put this in perspective. So far there have been a total about 500 boat people arrive. Five of them have disappeared. The rest of them are awaiting a hearing. One estimate is that only 10 of them will be allowed into Canada as legitimate refugees.
In contrast, in the period 1995 to 1998 there were 829,000 immigrants and 103,000 refugees accepted into Canada. Of course, many times that number applied.
People are terribly worried about the costs of processing illegitimate boat people refugees. The media’s zoom lenses are making a mountain out of a molehill. The costs of processing those boat people represent only a drop in the bucket compared with the costs of processing the applications of everyone who legitimately applied for immigration.
Racists want to send the boat people back to China without a trial. They resent the burden to the taxpayers of the hearing. These fools are willing to toss away the right to due process for a few pennies. Is not the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty worth more than that?
Further, there are some legitimate refugees in those boats. Don’t we owe it to them to give them a fair hearing? If the Viet Nam boat people are any indication, those we do let in will pay back to our country in taxes over the coming decades many many times what we spent deciding whether to let them in.
The population of Vancouver is expected to double over the next decade, largely from immigration from other parts of Canada and other countries.
Immigrants coming to Canada naturally like to settle in cosmopolitan centres like Vancouver where they can find familiar foods, newspapers and people whom they can speak with in their native language. More that half the students in Vancouver have English as a second language.
Where do you put all those people? Where can we fit their automobiles? How do we process all that extra sewage. There is a limit to the number of people who can comfortably live on a square kilometer. Vancouver’s streets are already choked with traffic. We can’t possibly double it.
Immigration puts undue pressure on a few urban centres. Oddly, you will find the people of Vancouver much more tolerant of immigration than a Saskatchewan farmer. We Vancouverites love the cosmopolitan flavour of our city. You can travel the world just by walking down the streets of Vancouver.
We may be forced to use refugee camps for detainment. For legitimate refugees this is no great inconvenience considering what they were fleeing.
The important thing is to be consistent. People must know that unless they are legitimate refugees, there is no hope at the end of the boat ride.
The government heard and has already implemented this policy. Immigration Canada is being much more careful with the second and third boatloads of people. No one from those has vanished.
The key is relax the immigration rules and tighten the refugee rules. If Canada helped the Chinese peasants with applying for legitimate immigration, they might be less inclined to use the services of snakeheads.
Canada could act as a more humane, cheaper snakehead. The Canadian government could require repayment over the years in the form of income taxes. If the immigrants we provisionally let in don’t pay (e.g. go on welfare without just cause), they could be sent back.
We need a sort of witness protection program for people who have used the snakeheads’ services to ensure their victims never have to pay back.
We need to free those working in the snakehead sweatshops and brothels. This will be more effective than focusing on directly stopping the boats.
European countries and the USA have been dealing with boat people for years. If there were simple quick solutions, I’m sure they would have told us. For some reason, Canada has been spared dealing with this awkward issue up to now.
The media have inflamed the public over the wrong aspects of the issue. Slavery and forced prostitution are far greater evils than queue jumping. To fight the slavery and prostitution requires long term solutions to take the profit out of it for the snakeheads.
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