The Fractured Nation Interviews
Boom-Boom Has His Own Version
Johnny: What about them?
Boom-Boom: I said I was not very familiar with the early history of Canada but I am familiar with the history of the first Asians who settled on the west coast of Canada, where quite a few members of ACNA are located today. You didn’t mention them at all. You didn’t mention the Japanese and Chinese who were some of the earliest immigrants to the then province of British Columbia.
Johnny: The Chinese immigrants, yes that was an oversight given that they provided most of the manual labour that built the first transcontinental Canadian railroad.
Boom-Boom: The cheap labour that built the railroad. Sound familiar.
Johnny: You are not suggesting …
Boom-Boom: I said I didn’t completely disagree with Dr. Diane’s theory. According to her theory, Mulroney and the Conservatives wanted to return to the labour and working conditions of the 19th century, to the cheap labour economics that saw desperate Chinese lured to Canada to built that railroad – the construction of which Canadians were so proud, and rightly so.
Johnny: You are right of course and I apologize for not giving credit where credit was due, definitely due.
Boom-Boom: I am not here to re-open old wounds since the twentieth century, except for the period that begins with that fellow Mulruney [sic] being elected Prime Minister, 1985 was it, the economic history of Canada was a progression towards more enlightened and egalitarian economics.
Johnny: You mentioned Japanese and Chinese as being some of the earliest immigrants to the west coast. I am not familiar with any large scale immigration of Japanese during the later part of the 19th century.
Boom-Boom: Johnny, Johnny [shaking his head] when do you think all those Japanese Canadians – many of whom had been citizens of Canada for generations and were put in interment camps during the second world war – when do you think they came Canada?
Johnny: The later part of the 19th century???
Boom-Boom: The last quarter, but close enough. You get a gold, no, a bronze star. You get a silver star if you get the next question right.
Johnny: We’re now into awarding stars are we?
Boom-Boom: Just for fun. Don’t be a stick in the glue. Why did the Canadian government encourage Japanese men and women to immigrate to the west coast?
Johnny: Don’t be a stick in the mud. Okay I’ll play. Cheap labour!
Boom-Boom: Silver star for you; now for the gold star. What industry, in the then province of British Columbia required an influx of cheap labour?
Boom-Boom: No gold star for you.
Johnny: What else could it be! The fur trade???
Boom-Boom: It was the salmon canning industry. Okay. I will give you another chance to go for the gold. Just answer this question correctly.
Johnny: Boom-Boom, is this really necessary?
Boom-Boom: What, you don’t like being a guest on your own show?
Johnny: No but …
Boom-Boom: No buts unless it’s about Dr. Diane’s [laughing]. Just kidding. I’m enjoying this. For, what do you say, all the marbles, for the gold star. Which workers did the Japanese immigrants displaced? Which workers, because they wanted better wages and better working conditions, did the commercial canning companies want to get rid of by replacing them with even lower paid workers from Japan?
Johnny: I don’t have a clue.
Boom-Boom: Here is a hint. They were mainly women. They worked more than twelve hours a day for near starvation wages in hot, messy and dirty conditions slicing and dicing, cleaning and cooking and stuffing this salmon into squat one pound cans that were largely destined for the European market.
Johnny: Chinese women???
Boom-Boom: No! No! No!
Johnny: English women would never have accepted working under those conditions therefore that leaves only … native women???