VANCOUVER – A war of words has broken out between Vancouver city councillor Dr. Kerry Jang and a professor at the University of New Brunswick (UNB).
Ricardo Duchesne, a sociology professor at UNB, has singled out Vancouver as an example of an influx of Asian immigrants, and multiculturalism more generally, as threatening Canada’s European character.
Jang has complained to the university saying the professor’s teachings are promoting racism.
“This entire incident started when Dr. Duchesne decided to write myself, councillor Raymond Louie, and at that time, councillor Tony Tang, the only Chinese members of Vancouver city council, about a blog post that he had posted about white guilt,” said Jang. “He was responding to some of the motions we had in council, for example, looking at taking away, or erasing, all the old land titles that said ‘no Asians can own a home in Vancouver’, for example, or the Japanese apology for the internment.”
“He objected to that obviously and he started to write about white guilt and how we’re taking advantage of it. He had also made a number of allegations about myself, misrepresenting my positions on various items, and I tried to correct him and he decided he wasn’t going to do that,” said Jang.
The two sent many emails back and forth and Jang said Duchesne posted them on his blog. Jang said that is when he, and other Chinese members of city council, started to receive hate mail, including threats.
“At that point I also decided to write the university and say, you know, I’m quite worried that you have a professor at the University of New Brunswick who is expressing his personal views, using his title as a cover-up,” said Jang.
UNB is defending Duchesne’s right to express his views and create debate.
“Academic freedom is a foundational principal of university life. Often, such academic debate expresses views that may be perceived as controversial and unpopular,” Dr. Robert MacKinnon, vice president, UNB Saint John, said in a statement.
“The university statement of mission and values very clearly supports the freedom of thought and expression, while maintaining the highest ethical standards and a respectful environment.”
Jang said he wanted the university to look into Duchesne wrote on his blog.
“There were a number of things he was complaining about,” said Jang. “He was complaining about there’s too many Asians in Vancouver, and things like that, and for example, the universities are all full of Asians. So I believe, in my estimation, he was complaining about a number of things about Vancouver, that it was losing its British character, that there were too many Asians, that immigration happened too fast. He said that Asians had rights that white people didn’t, for example, one of the funniest ones I thought was that white people weren’t allowed to celebrate their holidays in Canada the way Asian people did, or other ethnic groups.”
Duchesne said the issue is not about immigration, but about whether people can have an open debate about mass immigration in Canada. “Can we talk about that and can there be a position to that without labels, without recriminations, because it appears to be like a sacred cow,” he said. “You have to accept it, you have to keep repeating that it is enriching us, we’re not supposed to say that it may not be enriching us in all ways. I think the fundamental question is, Canada was, through most of its history, a European nation. Canada was created by Europeans.”
“If you look at the statistics from the very beginning, the major ethnic composition of Canada, all the way until very recently, as being European,” added Duchesne.
“I said in an article that Vancouver, under this continuous immigration pressure, and it’s already showing signs of that, will become a typical. congested, over-crowded Asian city, that’s what I said.”
He added that there has been a lot of controversy in Vancouver with residents of the city saying they don’t feel like they are in Canada anymore.
“I think the basic point that I’m trying to make is, I think European Canadians have to start affirming their heritage and their culture, stop apologising. All these endless apologies for having created what is one of the best countries in the world,” said Duchesne.
He said he does not think Chinese people should have to assimilate into another country’s culture, but that European cultures also have a right to celebrate their cultural heritage.
“I’m not a racist. To me racism is when you’re advocating supremacy over another culture or ethnic group,” said Duchesne. “I believe everyone should have the same rights, everyone should be treated equal under the law, everyone should have freedom of expression, every culture should be free to assert their ethnic and cultural heritage.”
“But what happens is, when every European affirms their heritage, there is an immediate reaction, ‘don’t do that, you can’t do that’.”
“I’m asking why.”