Open letter to Richard Runyon, re Filipino workers:
This letter is in response to your letter to Yvonne Clarke, dated July 19, regarding the deportation case of two Filipino men.
With all due respect, I must disagree with you on many accounts.
I must say that at this time the best option is for all of us, together in unity, to appeal to the federal minister of immigration to drop the deportation case.
Please allow me, Runyon, to state my humble opinion.
1) I’d like to make it absolutely clear that Clarke and I never argued the immigration laws should not apply to Filipinos or to any particular persons or groups.
I am saying the law must be applied equally and fairly to all people, which is the cornerstone of an advanced and upward civilization, as in your own words.
The saying goes, it takes two to tango. In this case, it takes an employee and an employer for an employment to take place.
An employee cannot work without an employer. If a worker worked without a proper paper and status, it means somebody employed that worker, and, as it is clearly stated in the immigration act, the employer is just as responsible for the unlawful employment. If one party is punished for breaching the immigration law, the other party should be equally punished. The ignorance of law is no excuse. I highly doubt there is any precedent that states otherwise.
2) The Yukon Nominee Program requires the employer to advertise the job opening nationally as well as locally for the duration of a minimum of four weeks (or longer?). This ensures the opportunity for any Canadians to apply for the job before it is given to the immigrants. The Yukon nominee workers have no reason to be blamed for taking jobs away from voting Canadian citizens, as you put it.
The fact is that Yukon employers would be at a total loss if not for the workers from foreign countries. In other words, employers are benefiting greatly from the Yukon Nominee Program, just as much as the foreign workers are. It is mutual. And that is exactly how Canada has been and will be for many years to come.
Canada is a great country, and a lot of people want to come to Canada. But that is no excuse for Canadians to treat newcomers to Canada as second-class citizens.
Let us not take up a condescending attitude of some North American businesses (or from any other countries) that operate sweatshop industries in developing countries to make huge profits on low wages. Their excuse is, “Well, we pay much higher wages than they can ever hope for locally.”
I know for a fact, Yukon employers by and large pay a reasonable wages rate to the Yukon nominees, definitely well above the territory’s minimum wage.
By the same token, the new immigrants here in the Yukon are hard workers, doing an excellent job and making a respectable contribution to the Yukon economy.
3) The true spirit of democracy demands all members of the society are equally respected and everyone’s rights are protected. It does not allow any group of people to bulldoze everything by the power of majority vote, to tell the minority groups to put up and do as we tell you.
When the rights of a powerless minority are infringed upon, those who have the ability and power to correct the wrongs must intervene to find the better solution.
In conclusion, getting back to the original, urgent issue, I submit, Runyon, it is imperative to find a solution that does not leave any animosity, hard feelings or sense of betrayal among the people of the Yukon.
It is not a wise policy to cause a wide and irreconcilable division among any groups of people in our community. If only one party of two guilty ones is punished, and so severely at that, it would be seen as gross injustice by the general public.
I, for one, will not sit idle and turn a blind eye to it.
At the same time, I do not want to personally take any action to accuse anyone in the community. It would inevitably lead to an ugly fight. That is something we must avoid at any cost.
The best solution is, as I first stated at the beginning, for all of us, immigrant communities and employers together, to form a united front to appeal to the local elected representatives to act on our behalf.
Ultimately, we must persuade our MP Larry Bagnell to appeal to the federal minister of immigration to intervene.
We must prevent the deportation from going ahead. If we can stop the deportation, then, and only then, can we sit down together and take time to discuss how to improve the Yukon Nominee Program system to better serve the employers and the workers alike.
That would not only contribute to the Yukon economy enormously, but also would help keep harmony in the community.
Fumi Torigai, president
Japanese Canadian Association of Yukon