Mr. MacInnes-Rae :
Re the “Dispatches” segment you did on December 16, 2010 on Molly Blank’s documentary on South Africa:
You might want to count the number of times you used the word “xenophobia” in that segment. It seems that whenever CBC reporters deal with the issue of a country reacting to a large inflow of outsiders, the CBC inevitably tries to either play the race card against the host group or accuse it of xenophobia. By that logic, would you have described the Tibetans as “xenophobic” for resisting the Chinese? If you and other CBC reporters had been in World War 2 France and other European countries when the Germans arrived, would you have told the French and others that they should be “welcoming” to the Germans because the invasion had made their countries “Diverse” and “Multicultural”?
At this rather late stage in your career, you might want to ponder whether there might be third, fourth or other options to describe the reaction of a country’s population to a large inflow of outsiders.
Molly Blank identified a third option : the economic one. As Ms. Blank noted, there is a large amount of unemployment in South Africa. When people from other countries flooded into South Africa, it was inevitable that they would compete with South Africans for jobs. In spite of what you and other CBC reporters like to think, the same thing has happened in the U.S., Canada and many other countries. Is your Dispatches segment an example of what Robert Fulford characterized as “the herd of independent thinkers” at work?
You do point out that South Africans should have remembered that they, in apartheid times, also went to neighbouring countries. But you should have paid more attention to the point (brought up by Ms. Blank, I believe) that many countries expect refugees to return to their countries of origin when the conflict from which they have fled has ended. Even the U.N. distinguishes between those requiring permanent and temporary refuge.
If you had probed into this matter a bit further, you probably would have learned that the countries adjacent to South Africa were also not prepared to grant South Africans permanent status in their country. Not long ago, I remember an African ambassador to Canada saying this to me and others at a conference in Montreal. She was reacting to reports that Canada had granted permanent status to many asylum-seekers. She stated that her country would never have granted these people permanent status. She said that she and other ambassadors were amazed that Canada would do this for Sri Lankans and other groups—-let alone tolerate the abuse that groups such as Sri Lankans and many others had inflicted on the Canadian asylum-seeker program.
Please work on your pre-conceptions and advise the people you work with to do the same. Please remember that the people of Canada pay CBC salaries. They deserve better than what they have been getting on the refugee and immigration issue from the CBC.
Immigration Watch Canada