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Refugees: some say 'Go home.'

They were prepared to risk everything. In the years following the Vietnam War, over one million refugees fled the war-ravaged countries of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Those Vietnamese who took to the ocean in tiny overcrowded ships were dubbed the "boat people." The survivors sometimes languished for years in refugee camps. The luckier ones were taken in by countries like Canada.

Phone-in callers comment about the influx of immigrants. Not everybody is happy. Some people are worried about the multi-million dollar price tag. Others are worried that land and gas prices will skyrocket and unemployment will increase. They worry that Canada is ignoring its own poor and unemployed. They worry that the immigration screening process is too lax. And they worry that Canada will suffer what Doug Collins refers to on CBC Radio as a "racial imbalance." (Note: explicit language.)
• On Aug. 24, 1979, a full-page ad appeared on page 3 of the Globe and Mail protesting Canada's acceptance of so many boat people. The ad, paid for by the National Citizens' Coalition, warned that each refugee might sponsor as many as 15 relatives, turning 50,000 immigrants into 750,000.
• On Sept. 12, 1979, a second ad appeared to counteract the controversy from the first. Each ad cost $10,000 — enough to sponsor sixteen refugees.

• In December 1979, due to the huge success of private sponsorships, the federal government decided to back down on its promise to match sponsorship with sponsorship. The funds saved could be better spent on Cambodian relief, it decided. But the public did not agree.
• On April 2, 1980, Immigration Minister Lloyd Axworthy announced that Canada would take an additional 10,000 boat people, bringing the two-year total to 60,000.
Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Morning

Broadcast Date: July 29, 1979
Guest(s): Howard Adelman, Doug Collins
Host: Bronwyn Drainie
Reporter: Patrick Martin
Duration: 8:34

Last updated: February 1, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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