I'd like to welcome my partner, fellow classmates, the honorable judge and our worthy opponents. Let it be resolved that the circumstances did not demand the removal of the Japanese Canadians from BC's West Coast in 1942. The main circumstance was the unexpected and sudden attack on US troops-in- training in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. To demand means to ask for something with authority. In this statement, removal means forceful displacement of a group of people to detention and internment camps in Canada's interior. Japanese Canadians are people who immigrated to Canada from Japan and became Canadian citizens.
The West Coast includes BC's entire shoreline stretching from Alaska to the Southern US border and going as far inland as 100 miles. To sum up, my partner and I are here to convince you that the events of 1942 did not require the forceful relocation of Canadians of Japanese ethnic origin from BC's West Coast. My first point is the obvious racist attitudes of Caucasian people of the west coast as well as influential political figures towards the Japanese Canadians. Opposing the democracy that Canada was supposed to have been, Japanese citizens were never given the right to vote.
This put them at a disadvantage because their voices could never be heard by the government. They were treated as obvious outsiders. They had been isolated into their own areas where they lived and worked. To white people, they went under the name of Japs, a term equally offensive as calling a black person a Negro.
Despite all that, they were very beneficial to the community that treated them that way. They were excellent fishers and farmers who contributed immensely to the thriving and the prosperity of BC. However, instead of getting recognition and praise for their hard work, it only led to more hatred towards them. People were jealous of their large profits and successes in business, fishery, and agriculture. The white people could not find it in themselves to deal with their envy in any other way than hatred and racism. A quote from a book called "Democracy Betrayed", page 13, states: "They spoke of the Japanese Canadians in a way that Nazis would have spoken about Jewish-Germans.
When they spoke I felt in that room the physical presence of evil". The second concept that I would like to present to you is the falseness of the idea that the Japanese Canadians were a threat to the national security of Canada. The attack on Pearl Harbor was nothing but the perfect excuse for small, but yet powerful anti-Japanese groups to make their resentful voices be heard on a federal level. The Japanese Canadians became feared and suspected without any investigation at all that would prove their guilt, or in this case innocence. At a Conference on the "Japanese Problem in BC" held in Ottawa in January, 1942, representatives from the department of National Defense, National Defense for Naval Services, and the RCMP all opposed the internment of the Japanese Canadians. Unfortunately, the person to report the outcome of this crucial conference to Prime Minister Mackenzie King was Ian Alistair Mackenzie, the political strategist behind the Liberal Party's anti-Asian election campaigns in BC and the sole member of Cabinet from British Columbia.
The misleading of the prime minister would eventually be the turning point for removal of the Japanese Canadians, despite all the opinions against it, including J.L. Ralston's, the Minister of National Defense. Another indication that they were not a true threat was that the evacuation didn't happen immediately after the war began, nor was it carried out at an urgent pace: it began in the summer of 1942 and wasn't completed until October 31, close to eleven months after the beginning of the war. This slow removal hardly suggested a military emergency or that Japanese Canadians posed such a critical threat to national security. In Democracy Betrayed, on page 12, a quote by Major General Ken Stuart states: "From the army point of view, I cannot see that Japanese Canadians constitute the slightest menace to national security". I have presented you with sufficient proof and illustration for my claims that the unfortunate fate of Japanese Canadians was brought on by racism and that they were never a threat to the Canadian Community, which they were also a part of. The Japanese were betrayed by the very country that they immigrated to in hopes of a better future.
They were put under a bad light and un rightfully and unjustly punished for something they had absolutely no connection to.