The great boat-people success story in Canada, of course, has been the refugees from Indochina – the Vietnamese, Vietnamese Chinese, Lao and Kampucheans who now number a quarter of a million people, most of them originally sponsored in the late 1970s and early 1980s by church and community groups with federal government assistance after the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese government fell to the North Vietnamese communists. Most of the refugees were highly educated professionals who fit quickly into Canadian society.
...Although the integration of Vietnamese Boat People is considered fairly uncontroversial today, such was not always the case. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, some of the concerns we hear today about the Tamils were directed also at Vietnamese refugees.
They're diseased. They'll be supported on the taxpayer's dime through welfare. They'll take jobs away from real Canadians. They're criminals and radicals found amongst their numbers. They are so foreign to Canadian culture and values as to be unassimilable. They will upset the, "racial balance" of Canada.
These views are in evidence on CBC radio programs from 1979 (found at number 8, 16, 17), one synopsis which can be found below:
Phone-in callers comment about the influx of immigrants. Not everybody is happy. Some people are worried about the multi-million dollar price tag. Others are worried that land and gas prices will skyrocket and unemployment will increase. They worry that Canada is ignoring its own poor and unemployed. They worry that the immigration screening process is too lax. And they worry that Canada will suffer what Doug Collins refers to on CBC Radio as a "racial imbalance." (Note: explicit language.)
Hmmm, we've been told repeatedly that Doug Collins was a respectable journalist. Such a potty mouth! But at least we know that some of his best friends were Jews.
We would urge our readers to examine all of the audio and video in the CBC archives concerning the boat people. Seems not a lot has changed in 30 years.
Interestingly, one of the voices of those opposing the Vietnamese boat people is the same one who is now opposing Tamil migrants. And like his opposition to the Vietnamese, Paul Fromm's reasons for opposing the Tamils haven't changed in 30 years:
We know that none of the claims made by Fromm, Collins or the people opposing the entry of refugees into Canada actually came to fruition. The Vietnamese boat people integrated into Canadian society, their children becoming doctors, teachers, tradesmen and women, and community leaders. Yet the anti-refugee and anti-immigrant rhetoric hasn't changed at all.
We'll keep that fact in mind as the latest group of refugees are processed.