Statement to condemn the so-called Journey to Freedom Act (S-219) – April 30, 2019

Long Live the Friendship between the Canadian and Vietnamese Peoples

As a member of the Canada Vietnam Society, a national organization whose aim is to promote friendly relations between the Vietnamese people and the Canadian people and to promote exchanges, knowledge and understanding between our two countries and peoples, I am very pleased to participate in the conference on April 30, 2019 in Toronto on the Vietnam Ancestral Global Day in commemoration of the Hùng Kings who 4,000 years ago laid the foundation of the Vietnamese nation.

This commemoration is also taking place on the 44th anniversary of the victory of the Vietnamese people over U.S. imperialism on April 30, 1975 and celebrates the successes and stellar achievements of the People’s Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Vietnamese people since then.

The friendship between the people of Canada and the people of Vietnam was cemented in the course of the struggle to affirm the right of the Vietnamese people to be, especially in the course of the Fatherland liberation war.

Canada’s relations with the People’s Socialist Republic of Vietnam date back to 1973, even before the U.S. war on Vietnam was brought to an end. Canada has had 45 years of trade relations with the modern Vietnam. Canada established an embassy in Hanoi in 1994. Vietnam is Canada’s largest trading partner in ASEAN since 2015. Canada is looking to build on that relationship in the 11-country Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) free trade agreement.

There are more than 20,000 Vietnamese students studying in Canada, some of whom will stay and contribute to our society’s development, but most will return home. The relationships they build while in Canada will also contribute to building the bonds of friendship between our two peoples.

Vietnamese workers also come to work on projects in Canada as labour contracted by Canadian companies in agreements with the Government of Vietnam, and this is another way in which we share the experiences as contingents of the international workers’ movement.

Canadians also love to go to Vietnam as a tourism destination. Last year alone 150,000 Canadians visited Vietnam. Besides the beauty of the country and its cultural heritage and the warmth of its people, Canadians pay first rate attention to the monuments to the heroes and heroines of the Fatherland liberation war, pay deepest respects to the legendary leader of Vietnam’s liberation President Ho Chi Minh, and share the joy of Vietnam’s progress and achievements in raising the standards of living of the people based on their own efforts and independent foreign policy.

All efforts to reverse these achievements on the part of those who attempt to hoist the flag of the colonial occupation regime to celebrate the collaborators and agents of that foreign imposed regime are to no avail.

We take this occasion to condemn once again the so-called Journey to Freedom Act (S-219) adopted by the Harper government on April 23, 2015 which established the so-called Journey to Freedom Day. It was the result of a campaign led by those who call themselves boat-people who claim to have fled Vietnam to avoid persecution. They sided with the U.S. imperialists who committed so many crimes against the people during the Vietnam War. They accuse and blame the patriots and government of Vietnam for depriving them of freedom. They also seek to fool the people of Canada by getting government at the federal, provincial and municipal levels to espouse their cause. But the Canadian people, including those of Vietnamese origin who are citizens and residents of this country, do not support such things pushed by a relative handful of individuals who eke out a living trying to recreate their past of profiting off their service to foreign imperialism. Our unity, our friendship is intimately linked to building a prosperous, peaceful and happy future for both our peoples and everything which damages this mighty cause does not meet with our approval or support.

The Vietnamese people are forging ahead on the basis of their own aims, upholding the dignity of the people, their sacrifice and fidelity to the work of their ancestors to found the Vietnamese nation.

In this regard, the Canada Vietnam Society supports the initiative of the Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Association, which is part of the Canada Vietnam Trade Council, to uphold the principles which guide diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Canada. This year the women sent a letter to the Mayor of Brampton, Patrick Brown, to protest the decision of Brampton City Council to fly the colonial flag of the former south Vietnam, the yellow flag with three gold bars, to commemorate so-called Journey to Freedom Day.

The letter to Mayor Brown was copied to the mayors of several cities including Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Surrey and Vancouver pointing out that flying the old flag of south Vietnam is a provocation, an act of racism and violence against Canadians of Vietnamese origin that it divides the Vietnamese community in Canada while promoting a distorted view of Vietnam to the astonishment of the thousands of Vietnamese students who come to study in Canada.

The women entrepreneurs pointed out that flying the yellow colonial flag also violates Canadian government policy which is to fly only the official flags of the countries of the world as a matter of diplomatic protocol. They also pointed to the fact that flying this flag violates the policy of the City of Brampton itself not to fly flags that promote hatred and violence.

Last year, when the Canada Vietnam Society investigated with the office of the Mayor of Toronto in the course of protesting a resolution that was passed to fly the south Vietnamese colonial flag at Toronto City Hall, it was revealed that not one of the councillors had even read the resolution that they passed.

In Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and other places, Canadians of Vietnamese origin joined by other Canadians are writing to municipal governments and governments at all levels to call on them to cease and desist from flying the colonial south Vietnamese flag which is an affront and provocation to the dignity of the relations of friendship between our two countries and two peoples. We seek to promote actions which unite the peoples, not find excuses to divide them.

Canadians pride themselves for opposing the regime of the landlords and drug lords who served the U.S. imperialist aims to keep Vietnam divided and in a fratricidal war. They oppose providing funds to those who seek to cause harm to Canada-Vietnam relations in the name of defending “freedom and democracy.” Today there are more than 240,000 Canadians of Vietnamese origin and in addition 20,000 Vietnamese students studying in Canada. The majority object to a rendering of Vietnamese history which diminishes and distorts the history and contribution of Vietnam in the anti-colonial struggle and to peace in the world, as well as the contributions of Canadians and residents of Vietnamese origin today. This is why we consider this initiative to celebrate Vietnam Ancestral Global Day in commemoration of the Hùng Kings who 4,000 years ago laid the foundation of the Vietnamese nation to be significant. It honours our peoples and their friendship to learn about this history and pay tribute to the contribution of our ancestors.

Modern Vietnam is widely respected for its achievements and for the enlightened role it plays in the global community today. Vietnam was the sole and only nomination of the Asian region for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2020-21. This would be Vietnam’s second term on the Security Council having served from 2008-2009. It demonstrates the prestige and esteem with which Vietnam is held by its peers in the international community.

We pledge on this occasion to take more initiatives in the coming period to inform Canadians of the real history of the Vietnamese people, their achievements at his time and their work to make their nation-building projects successful.

Philip Fernandez

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