Far right using Web to whip up hostility to Chinese migrants
Internet the latest tool to promote campaign against immigration
The Globe and Mail | Monday, August 30, 1999
The recent arrival of two boatloads of illegal Chinese migrants on the West Coast has provided fresh fuel for the long-standing anti-immigration campaign that inspires Canada’s small but noisy far right.
Since the first boat arrived on Vancouver Island from China last month with a cargo of 123 illegal migrants, the far right has been agitating to send them back without delay.
The Canada First Immigration Reform Committee has harnessed the Internet to carry its campaign against immigration in general and the two recent boatloads of Chinese migrants in particular.
The Internet campaign has involved a subtle combination of straightforward stories reprinted from news organizations, such as The Globe and Mail, and anonymous commentaries from those sympathetic to the anti-immigration campaign.
The committee is promoting lobbying devices ranging from an postcards and faxes to Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan and members of Parliament.
The petition has attracted the support of many of the traditional figures of the far right: Terry Long, former leader of the Aryan Nation; Wolfgang Droege, leader of the Heritage Front, and Gerry Lincoln, a founder of the Heritage Front.
The man leading the campaign is Paul Fromm, the director of the committee and a prominent fixture of just about every far-right cause in Canada since he was leader of the defunct Edmund Burke Society three decades ago.
Mr. Fromm was particularly delighted with more than 100 E-mail messages of support he received in the 24 hours after conservative columnist Diane Francis allied herself with the campaign to send the migrants back to China immediately.
“A lot of people are very, very upset about this issue,” he said in a telephone interview from Costa Rica, where he is on holiday.
Harry Abrams, the B.C. representative of B’Nai Brith, who has tracked the recent anti-immigrant campaign, said the issue of the boatloads of illegals is being used to piggyback a broader xenophobic campaign by Mr. Fromm and others.
But he acknowledged that the issue is not far from the surface of the Canadian consciousness and the reaction in recent weeks has shown that emotions can be whipped up quickly.
The anti-immigration thesis of Mr. Fromm and his supporters is that in 1967 the Canadian government changed the source of immigration from Britain and Europe to the Third World.
He describes that change as undemocratic and believes that most Canadians are alienated from the immigration process. Mr. Fromm says 90 per cent of Canadians want the recent boatloads of illegal immigrants sent back to China.
“Canadians do not want the type of What part of 90 don’t they understand?”
If the essentials of the anti-immigrant message have not changed in the past three decades, the means of delivering the message have kept up with the times.
Anyone interested in news stories depicting immigrants and immigration in an unflattering light can find them on Mr. Fromm’s Web site.
In addition to Mr. Fromm, the hero of the Web site is B.C. columnist Doug Collins, who is perhaps best known for columns discounting the Holocaust that made him an icon of the far right.
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled last February that Mr. Collins had violated the province’s antihate laws in a column that described the film Schindler’s List, about the Holocaust, as Jewish propaganda.
Until the furor over the Chinese migrants, Mr. Fromm’s most visible recent activity was in connection with a “free speech” seminar organized to take place in the B.C. town of Oliver in March of last year.
The conference was organized by Bernard Klatt — another signatory of the latest petition– whose Internet server provided an outlet for groups ranging from the U.S. Nazi party, the Charlemagne Hammer Skins and other white supremacists. The conference was cancelled after public protests.
Until two years ago, Mr. Fromm, 50, was a teacher in Mississauga. He was fired by the Peel regional school board for attending white-supremacist rallies. He is challenging the dismissal.
Response by Marc Lemire
Marc Lemire 152 Carlton Street, Suite 545, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 2K0 – E-Mail: directly at our webpage describing the conference in Oliver. From there he could have read over text versions of the speeches that were delivered in Oliver. And with a simple click he could have even listen to audio versions of the speeches. That conference certainly was held and it was very successful also.
It’s also sad to see Mr. Gray trot out the tired misleading line that Paul Fromm was “was fired by the Peel regional school board for attending white-supremacist rallies.” He was at an Immigration Reform rally. As Diane Francis so eloquently put it in her August 24th National Post column “It is not racist to question how many people should be allowed in here.” Plain and simple, it is not racist to be against the current immigration and refugee system in Canada.
Also through out the entire article Mr. Gray leaves the impression that the Canada First Immigration Reform Committee is against “immigrants” which cannot be further from the truth. What we are protesting against is the government and the government inaction to maintain control of our borders. The immigrants themselves are really a side issue to the larger question of our dilapidated immigration and refugee systems.
Sadly, in immigration policy decisions, the will of the majority is studiously ignored. The new minister within days of her appointment seemed headed in the same direction. She vowed to consult more closely with “immigration stakeholders”; that is, in bureaucratese, the immigration industry of self-serving immigration lawyers, ESL instructors and ethnic groups. As usual, the poor taxpayer who’ll have to pay 12 times to care for an Chinese illegal child what a Canadian kid gets on welfare is ignored.
CFIRC has tried to harness the anger and concern felt by Canadians in a campaign aimed, not at the Chinese illegals who are merely opportunists taking advantage of a pathetic system, but at the politicians who have the power to change things and help us, through the use of the “notwithstnding clause” to regain control of ourtborders.
Simply put, no one should have the right to enter Canada as a refugee claimant or immigrant who has not applied and been vetted abroad.
Paul Fromm Director Canada First Immigration Reform Committee (CFIRC)