Why the People’s Party of Canada election result shouldn’t be underestimated

Overblown risk IMO. PPC did not even appear to influence CPC immigration-related positions. And as someone who spent some time looking at the bios, backgrounds and campaigns of PPC candidates, most of their candidates were more placeholders than active campaigners:

As Canada’s federal election fades from the headlines, temperatures drop, and the hockey season shifts into full swing, Maxime Bernier’s first campaign as head of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) might begin to fade from memory. After all, the PPC’s results were forgettable. Bernier lost in his own riding, and PPC candidates tallied only 1.6 per cent of the national vote.

Yet progressive Canadians dismiss the PPC at our peril.

In the party’s first campaign, Bernier managed to find candidates for 94 per cent of Canada’s federal ridings.

These candidates delivered the PPC message at doorsteps, schools, and town halls from coast to coast.

The party received almost 300,000 votes in its inaugural run, a foundation on which it might well build.

Its ideology of exclusionary, anti-immigrant nationalism is eerily similar to political movements across Europe. The PPC derides the United Nations as “ridiculous” and “dysfunctional,” worrying that participation may “dilute” our “national sovereignty.”

It sees no moral justification for international aid.

It contends that immigrants threaten “to forcibly change the cultural character and social fabric of our country” and that we should build physical barriers to stop refugees.

Bernier urges that the Multiculturalism Act be repealed to “ensure social cohesion.”

This mashup of anti-globalism, hostility to immigrants, and cultural nationalism draws from an international populist right that, in most cases, was not taken seriously at first.

Not long ago, in countries such as Hungary and Poland, anti-immigrant nationalist parties were considered alien to a liberal, post-Communist political culture. Now they have swept to power.

The Lega in Italy was once frowned upon as a fringe regionalist party. It recently morphed into a nationalist-populist voice that, according to current polls, would win a plurality of seats if Italians voted today.

These movements distort national histories to buttress their exclusive visions of national community.

In Europe, right-wing nationalists replace the painful lessons of the 20th century with glorified national histories, and assert the cultural superiority of their own national community. According to the Alternative for Germany Party, Hitler and the Nazi regime were just a “petty mistake.” In Poland, the governing Law and Justice Party has introduced a law banning anyone from blaming Poland for crimes committed during the Holocaust.

The PPC likewise hearkens to an imagined past in decrying the supposed decay of the present.

In a speech at a July rally in Mississauga, Bernier claimed that immigration to Canada was once uncontroversial: “immigrants who came to Canada gradually integrated into our society . . . They became Canadian, but with a distinct flavour.”

It is only over the “past decades,” the Party’s platform explains, that immigration has become problematic — a period in which, not coincidentally, immigrants have been more globally diverse than ever before.

In reality, Canada has a difficult history of xenophobia.

In the early 1900s, when the government recruited southern and eastern Europeans to farm the prairies, alarmists decried diversity. “Assimilation,” ranted one leading parliamentarian, “means the intermarriage of your sons or daughters with those who are of an alien race.” His prejudice was written into an exclusionary new immigration law in 1910.

In the 1920s, Canada changed immigration policy to virtually ban arrivals from China.

In the 1930s, Canadians prevented the arrival of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, and in the following decade officials interned 22,000 innocent Japanese Canadians.

After the Second World War, Canadians fretted over the suitability of newcomers from Communist countries and delayed signing the United Nations convention on refugees.

It is also worth remembering that Canadian history has seen cross-burning, segregated neighbourhoods, race riots, and looting. Our recent turn away from race as the basis of national identity and immigrant recruitment has been a step toward social cohesion and justice, not the opposite.

Canada has struggled to become a more just, inclusive nation. What progress has been made on that front is by no means set in stone.

Government action is warranted to address the unease exploited by populism. Canada needs to bring its immigration and multicultural policies into the 21st Century:

  • In the economic hubs where we need immigrants, we have allowed housing to become unaffordable.
  • Annually, we accept thousands of workers on pathways to citizenship, but our laws prevent their families from joining them.
  • Accessing the labour market is a major challenge for many newcomers.
  • Our education and health systems need help to support the social, linguistic, and cultural needs of global migrants.

The list could easily be continued.

The European liberal political mainstream, like that in the United States, laughed at right-wing populism before awaking to falsified histories and an unrecognizable political landscape. Canadians should not make the same mistake.

The ideology of the PPC, and not recent immigration, constitutes a threat to the social cohesion and unity of Canada. Who we think we have been in the past will shape our answers to these challenges.

Canada has always struggled to integrate immigrants with decency, pragmatism, and justice. To achieve a more just Canada and safeguard against the politics of hate, we must preserve an authentic and critical memory of our past and build boldly for our future.

Source: Why the People’s Party of Canada election result shouldn’t be underestimated

Japanese internment letters convey betrayal at loss of homes, heirlooms

Good research and reminder of this historic injustice:

Judy Hanazawa says the federal government sold her family’s fishing boats and homes while her parents were in internment camps during the Second World War, but what hits hardest is seeing a 70-year-old letter from her father disputing a government cheque for $14.68.

Hanazawa had never seen the letter until recently, but the Vancouver resident said reading it conveys the sense of betrayal her father must have felt losing family possessions and having to start over with almost nothing after he was held in a camp in British Columbia’s Interior.

“My dad, in writing this letter, was really intent on being dignified in how he approached the government,” Hanazawa said. “He pointed out to them the value of these belongings was much more than he received. For him it was a lot to write this, to point out that this was not really right.”

The Feb. 10, 1947, letter to the federal Office of the Custodian in Vancouver includes a list of Hanazawa family items — a Singer sewing machine, record player, dresser and other household items — with an estimated value of $224.95. The letter also lists a Japanese doll, worth $10, and includes a reward for its return.

Geniche Hanazawa’s letter is one of 300 letters discovered in a federal archive written by Japanese Canadians protesting the sale of their homes, businesses and heirlooms while held in internment camps during the Second World War.

Historian Jordan Stanger-Ross of the University of Victoria came across the letters while researching federal archives as part of a project examining the dispossession of Japanese Canadians. The Landscapes of Injustice is one of Canada’s largest humanities research projects.

He said many Japanese Canadians were prepared to accept being sent to internment camps during the war, but losing everything was not expected. The federal government promised to keep the homes and businesses for internees, but the policy changed during the war and the properties were sold.

The letters reflect the sense of loss and betrayal Japanese Canadians felt towards the government for selling off their possessions and life’s work without consent, he said.

“They wrote these really remarkable letters, some of them are long and lay out life stories of migration to Canada, building a home, building a business, raising children,” said Stanger-Ross. “Some of them are very short and just say, ‘I received your cheque, which I tore up.’ ”

Authors of the letters include the Victoria owners of a successful dry cleaning business, an internee whose cousins died in France serving Canada during the First World War, and a man who put two of his Canadian-born children through medical school.

“We have many letters from people just shocked at the price for which both their land and personal belongings and businesses had been sold,” Stanger-Ross said.

About 22,000 Japanese Canadians were sent to internment camps in Canada from 1942 until 1949.

“Readers of these letters tend to pause and contemplate what it would mean for me to lose my home, my business, lose the opportunity to educate my children in my community and really lose the dream of multiple generations that have built lives here in B.C.,” Stanger-Ross said.

The letters are also set to become part of an online historical exhibition called Writing Wrongs at the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre in Burnaby, B.C. The exhibit is scheduled to open in 2019.

Museum curator Sherri Kajiwara said Japanese Canadians were prepared to do their time in internment, but losing everything was not part of the deal.

“The thing I find with the letters is the unbelievable politeness and eloquence,” she said. “The language is so painfully polite; basically saying, ‘kindly, please, stop it. You are not allowed to sell my belongings.’ “

via Japanese internment letters convey betrayal at loss of homes, heirlooms | Vancouver Sun

Lessons from the Japanese Canadian internments: Policies built on fear won’t make us safer

Jordan Stanger-Ross, Eric Adams and Laura Madokoro on some of the lessons from WW II Japanese Canadian interment (for those who have not read it, Joy Kogawa’s novel Obasan captures the reality):

The wartime fates of people of Japanese descent in North America have recently returned to headline news. The National Association of Japanese Canadians, which in the 1980s led the Redress movement, called last year for the repeal of Bill C-51 (the complex omnibus legislation dealing with surveillance, information sharing among government agencies and various new terrorist-related crimes) by reminding the government of what then-prime minister Brian Mulroney called its “solemn commitment” that the mistreatment of Canadians in the name of security would “never again in this country be countenanced or repeated.”

In the fall, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair explicitly compared Bill C-51 to the Orders-in-Council of the 1940s, which curtailed the rights of Japanese Canadians. In the United States, Donald Trump indicated that the mass internment of Japanese Americans during the war may have been the correct policy, shortly before calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Jan. 19, 1943, is therefore a date worth remembering. The forced sale of Japanese-Canadian property marked a moment in Canada’s past when racism, misunderstanding and fear wrapped themselves in misguided notions of security and in the formal language of the law. Other and nefarious agendas could be pursued in a political atmosphere clouded by fear. We live with the legacy of those decisions today – the lost property, livelihoods and connections of a generation of Canadians, the eradication of a downtown neighbourhood in Vancouver, the painful memories of lives dispossessed.

Source: Lessons from the Japanese Canadian internments: Policies built on fear won’t make us safer – The Globe and Mail