So Bill C-4 puts the weight of a smugglers crime on the shoulder of someone who may not be able to return to his or her house, search through his or her old filing box which was nearly forgotten, poked away under a mountain of life's stuff in the attic. Instead, he or she happened to make it across a border while so many others were imprisoned or killed, behind them.
Turning back refugees on boats has a precedent in Canada:
Although some organizations and high-placed members of religious groups such as the Anglican and United Churches, actively campaigned on behalf of Jewish refugees, most Canadians seemed indifferent to the suffering of German Jews and hostile to their admission to Canada. Rev. Silcox spoke out in Toronto. The Globe and Mail asked "does Canada stand for anything?" In New Brunswick the Lieutenant Governor George Stanley condemned those who shed tears over the fate of Jews in Europe. IN March 1939 Blair was attempting to deport Jews back to Germany who were here on tourist visas. Even the famous "voyage of the dammed" received no mercy in Canada. This ship loaded with 907 Jews from Hamburg was on its way to Cuba but Cuba refused it. The U.S. and Canada refused them and Canada even sent out a "gun boat" to shadow them.
Eventually, as a nation, all political parties chose to acknowledge this terrible event for what it was. We all know the mistakes we made, as a country.
We did learn our lesson in one instance. Canada embraced the Vietnamese "Boat People". These refugees have become an integral part of the Canadian landscape.
As a child, I was disappointed that I lost a murky old black and white television which I used to watch on Saturday mornings with my scrambled eggs and ketchup. I was disappointed until I understood where it went. Even at three or four years old, I realized it was not a major loss. I knew the Vietnamese family it went to needed it. There was a larger one in the living room, anyway. We have plenty in this wonderful country.
Is this government so inept that they believe the Vietnamese and Jewish
survivors I mention, who are now part of the backbone of our nation, will not draw connections? The VAST majority of these people are part of the wonderful fabric of Canada. They have living memories of unspeakable events. How can we ignore the suffering of these or any other persecuted peoples? How can we allow those Canadians, who have unimaginable memories of persecution, feel that we may ignore them again?
Perhaps, a lucky Jew will pull a fast one on the Gestapo and receive full German citizenship documentation. Europe is mostly NAZI occupied. The Swiss border has been closed to Jews for some time. Amazingly, the Gestapo dupe is not discovered in time. Portugal is teetering on neutrality, selling Tungsten to Germany while guaranteed support by Britain is by means of a Middle Age treaty. One side or the other could cut off this route any moment. This poor refugee has no time to waste. Luckily he or she manages to make it to Lisbon all the way from the Swiss border. There is a South American freighter in port. The unscrupulous captain manages to extort every last penny from this poor soul.
This person has already had unbelievable odds. We know the numbers of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, Catholics, "mentally defectives", homosexuals, and others who died in the extermination camps.
There are a few others on board fleeing as well. They aren't as lucky as our refugee. At least our refugee has documentation.
I have to wonder, if we pass Bill C-4, what are the chances of all these deserving refugees? Perhaps, only our friend with the documentation will be accepted by boarder services.
We turned them away during the Holocaust. NO, we chased them away at gun point, during the Holocaust.
I thought we promised to learn this lesson? I thought, as a nation, we promised, "NEVER AGAIN!"
This is one of the saddest and most ashamed moments I have had as a Canadian, in my lifetime. I do not want their blood on my hands. I want to shake their hands and say how strong they are for living through this horror of which I can only imagine.