Cancel the stamp. Don’t Re-Name a Vancouver Street “Singh Street”
A stamp which Canada Post has just released to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident demonstrates that Canada Post has been completely duped by Canada’s immigration lobby. The same applies to Charlie Smith, the editor of Vancouver’s Georgia Straight newspaper who has suggested that Vancouver re-name a street “Singh Street” to honour the Sikh leader of that incident.
The stamp should be cancelled. The newspaper editor’s suggestion should be rejected.
The stamp shows a ship called the Komagata Maru. It was Japanese-owned but chartered by a Sikh who wanted to use litigation to force Canada to allow entry to over 360 East Indians (mostly Sikhs) in May, 1914. Above the ship, the stamp prominently displays the faces of five Sikhs, The one at the front is Gurdit Singh, the Sikh who chartered the ship. Like many in the media, the Georgia Straight editor seems to be completely unaware of the history of the KM event.
Aggressive Sikhs have always used their version of the Komagata Maru incident to extract guilt and demand atonement from Canadians. To aggressive Sikhs, atonement means continued high immigration from the Punjab.
Here is a version much closer to the truth.
Around 1913, Gurdit Singh had successfully used litigation to challenge UK law in Singapore. His success had emboldened him. He bragged to UK authorities in Hong Kong, where the Komagata Maru had started its trip, that if he were to succeed in challenging Canadian legislation, he would bring 25,000 East Indians to Canada. News of this must have alarmed residents of British Columbia. Vancouver, one of its largest cities, had a population of about 60,000 in 1907 and slightly more in 1914. If 25,000 East Indians were to arrive, Vancouverites would have felt overwhelmed. They did not want to see Vancouver Bramptonized in 1914.
The KM incident was the last in a long series of incidents in which the people of British Columbia said that they wanted their territory to remain a European-dominated settlement. It is true that Europeans colonized Canada, that colonization has not been good for First Nations people, and that Canada has to settle its grievances with First Nations groups. But people of European origin had no desire in 1914 to allow other groups to come in large numbers and to re-colonize Canada. Similarly, Mainstream Canadians today have no desire to see Canada re-colonized and divided into ethnic enclaves. Early Canadians (British Columbians in particular) spoke as most humans speak: They wanted to have a relatively homogeneous society. They had probably seen or heard of heterogeneous (so-called “diverse” societies), and they probably knew of the conflicts those countries had inevitably experienced. They had no reason to apologize then for their views. Mainstream Canadians today also have no reason to apologize for similar views. In the early 1900’s, people from the countries that threatened the homogeneity of Canada (particularly China and India) would never have tolerated their mainstream populations being reduced to minority status. In fact, the East Indians who had migrated to the west coast of both Canada and the U.S. in the early 1900’s were justifiably trying to end the UK’s colonial government in India and to re-take control of their country. Similarly, many Canadians want to re-take Canada today.
Here are eight important points :
(1) In late 1913, Canadians in B.C. had been duped by 56 East Indian passengers aboard a ship called the Panama Maru. They did not want to get duped again by passengers on the Komagata Maru. Most of the Panama Maru passengers had not lived in Canada previously, but had been coached to claim that they had. They produced fake money order receipts, time cards, etc. to substantiate their claims. Immigration authorities allowed 17 (those physically recognized to have been here before) to land, but they detained 39 of the 56. A Board of Inquiry looked into the case and ordered the 39 to be deported, but litigious other East Indians in Canada wanted to make the Panama Maru case a test case. Their lawyer, J.Edward Bird, appeared before Justice Dennis Murphy to do so, but Murphy denied their claim. Bird then went to Chief Justice Gordon Hunter, notorious for appearing drunk in court and a clear embarrassment to the government. Hunter upheld their appeal on a technicality, so most of the 39 were released. The remaining 4, who had previously been ordered deported for medical reasons, escaped from detention and could not be found. The Panama Maru incident was a big embarrassment to the federal gov’t. It showed British Columbia that Ottawa continued to bungle immigration and that much stronger measures had to be taken. (In 1908 , there were about 6000 East Indians living in B.C.)
(2) In 1910, Justice Dennis Murphy conducted a Royal Commission into Chinese immigration frauds. He told Canadians the Chinese had duped them for years. He revealed that Chinese labourers, who had been generously given re-entry certificates in order to visit China, sold or loaned these re-entry certificates to Chinese in China who then used these certificates to evade the Head Tax when they came to Canada. Undetermined numbers of other Chinese had stowed away aboard ships coming to British Columbia and sneaked to shore when opportunities appeared. Others claimed that they were businessmen or sons of businessmen and entered Canada free of charge. (Canadians should note that the Head Tax applied only to Chinese labourers, not to Chinese businessmen. The “Chinese Head Tax” should have been called the Chinese Labourer Head Tax. It was applied to Chinese labourers to offset the advantage they had in the Canadian labour market. Chinese labourers worked for half the wage that most Canadians worked at. Canadians should also note that the wages that Chinese labourers received were set by their own people (Chinese labour contractors), not by Canadian employers trying to exploit or persecute them. ) Murphy also stated that the Chinese also impersonated other Chinese, etc. Lastly, Murphy found that the Chinese interpreter, who was employed to interview incoming Chinese to verify what incoming Chinese were saying , was involved in the fraud and that he had abetted many Chinese to enter Canada illegally. When authorities discovered this, the interpreter suddenly disappeared. Ottawa’s failure to prevent these many kinds of fraud must have angered many Canadians.
(3) In 1907, Canadians heard that 8125 Japanese arrived in B.C. , almost all without authorization. When Mackenzie King conducted a Royal Commission to find out why the Japanese as well as about 2000 East Indians and a small number of Chinese (together totaling about 11,500) had arrived, he learned that most of the Japanese had been working in Hawaii as farm labourers and had been on strike there. When they realized their strike was doomed, they left Hawaii and traveled to Canada. Most planned to cross into the U.S. , and did, but the incident showed that Ottawa’s control of its west coast was weak.
(4) For two decades before 1907, Chinese labour contractors imported Chinese labourers from China. They encountered very little resistance from Ottawa because the actions of the Chinese Labour contractors were done in stealth. Ironically, a Japanese Labour contractor incident in 1907 showed what the Chinese had been doing and getting away with. It was not until Mackenzie King conducted a Royal Commission in 1907 to find out why so many Asians had arrived in 1907 that Canadians learned how large that labour contracting had become. King’s first job after the 1907 Vancouver Riot was to calculate the damages done to the Chinese and Japanese businesses in Vancouver’s Chinatown and Japantown . One of the most interesting things he discovered was that after the $500 Chinese Labourer Head Tax was implemented in 1904, Chinese Labour Contractors abandoned most of the labour contracting business. They had concluded that it was not all that profitable any more.
A Japanese Labour Contractor saw a great money-making opportunity. That contractor was called the Canadian Nippon Supply Company. It secretly negotiated with the CPR to import large numbers of Japanese low wage labourers to Canada. This was particularly underhanded and must have told Canadians that they were being duped. Canadians had seen evidence of this for several years before. The Japanese Consul in Vancouver regularly meddled in Canadian affairs by speaking on behalf of Japanese workers whom he considered citizens of Japan. It will sound ironic to many Canadians today to hear that he and his government actually agreed with Canadian complaints that Japanese low-wage labourers should not be allowed into Canada if they took jobs from Canadian workers.Yet, with duplicity, he probably helped a large Japanese Labour Contractor to import replacement workers from Japan. In spite of efforts to keep this deceitful contract secret, rumours began circulating about the dealings between the CPR which had about 5000 employees in western Canada and the Japanese Labour Contractor. The result was an uproar in British Columbia. Half of the population of Vancouver turned out in a peaceful Labour Day parade in 1907 to protest the contract. After the parade, a small number of paraders decided to storm through Chinatown and Japan-town. The significant thing about this event is that it has been called “The 1907 Vancouver Race Riot”. In fact, the Grade 11 B.C. Social Studies textbook also describes it as a “race riot”. And hundreds of thousands of B.C. students have been taught this when the truth is that the threat of job displacement was the cause of the parade and riot. The larger point is that the parade and riot resulted from frustration with Ottawa’s inability to do anything to protect Canadian workers.
(5) Ottawa finally did something right in 1907. It passed its “Continuous Passage Law” which, contrary to what aggressive Sikhs contend, was primarily aimed at Japan. The Japanese government was so embarrassed by the scandal caused by the Japanese Labour contractor that it quickly agreed to abide by Canada’s “Continuous Passage” law. The new law stated that if Japanese were to come to Canada, they had to come directly from Japan. If they did not, they were to be refused entry to Canada.
(6) Ottawa quickly extended the Continuous Passage law to India in 1908, so the people on board the Komagata Maru were subject to this law. This was the law that Gurdit Singh wanted to challenge. The law had followed years of Ottawa ignoring Canadian workers and of Ottawa squashing British Columbia’s efforts to protect Canadian workers in B.C. According to Canada’s constitution, Canada’s provinces had a right to act on the immigration issue, but Ottawa could over-rule the provinces. It did that with a large number of immigration-related laws passed by the B.C. legislature from the 1870’s onward.
(7) Starting in the 1880’s, British Columbia, as Canada’s closest province to Asia, had pressured Ottawa to limit immigration from Asia. Its efforts to protect itself were legitimate and courageous. At that time, China had a population of about 400 million and British Columbians feared being overwhelmed by China. India had a population of over 200 million and it too represented a threat if its efforts to send large numbers of its population to Canada were not strictly controlled. If British Columbia’s and Canada’s efforts to defend themselves had not occurred, British Columbia would have become “Chinese Columbia” and Canada would have turned into the cultural, economic and environmental morass it is suicidally marching toward today. Just recently, the British Columbia government foolishly passed an apology for so-called historical wrongs committed against the Chinese. This demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of what B.C. and Canada were trying to do with restrictive immigration laws and shows a spineless and treacherous misinterpretation of what is happening today under their noses. The big question B.C. MLA’s have to answer is this : If China and India had been allowed unrestricted entry into Canada, would Canada be the country it became or would it have become turned into a Balkanized mess of competing cultures it is becoming today?
(8) Georgia Straight newspaper editor Charlie Smith will feel comfortable with the MLA’s in the B.C. Legislature, but when hacks like them agree with you, you should know something is wrong. Our advice to him : Do your homework before suggesting something as ridiculous as changing a Vancouver street’s name to Singh Street !
For sources of the material cited in this bulletin, see the following :
More on Ridiculous Claims By Aggressive Sikhs Looking for Atonement :
Around 1900, some aggressive Sikhs tried to portray early Sikh immigrants to Canada as loyal British subjects. They said that members of their group had attended Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1897 and had passed through Canada on their way back to India. While doing so, they say they were attracted to Canada and decided to come here permanently. Mackenzie King, Canada’s Deputy Minister of Labour around 1907, found evidence to contradict that claim. After the $500 Chinese Head Tax was imposed in 1904, the CPR experienced a sudden decline in ticket sales to Chinese coming to Canada on CP ships. To fight back, CP aggressively advertised CP Ship tickets from India to Canada. They managed to attract many farmers who mortgaged their land to get here in the hope of making large amounts of money. In other words, it was CP ticket-salesmen who caused many East Indians (Sikhs) to come, not Sikh soldiers who were loyal to the British Empire. Aggressive Sikhs also say that because India was a UK colony and they were UK subjects, they had a right to enter Canada. The point is that Canada’s constitution stated that Canada, not the UK, had control of immigration. In other words, Canada was not obligated to take Sikhs who were British subjects. Period !!