On Racism: Dialogue with Derek Sloan / 关于种族主义:与德里克·斯隆的对话

On Racism: Dialogue with Derek Sloan

By Yang Wang

May 12, 2020

Like many other Chinese Canadian volunteers who have tried to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Canada, I have witnessed the ups and downs of the battle against the virus since the end of January. {1} The early intervention by the Chinese community through the implementation of self-quarantine among travellers from China has a very positive outcome.  Provincial data has shown that Canada’s early cases came mostly from travellers from the US and other hot spots like European countries, while very few were from China. {2} However, as the pandemic continues, its devastating impact has pushed people’s fears and frustrations to a new high.  Some people let out their angers onto Chinese and other Asians.  A poll shows 20% Canadians feel unsafe if sitting next to an Asian on the bus, and there has been a notable rise of racism and hate crimes against Asians across the world, including Canada. {3} It casts a shadow on my sense of security and the outlook of the future.  My big boy, who is in Grade 12 and drives now, volunteers to deliver groceries for my friends who have underline diseases, and send protective caps sewn by other volunteers to nurses.  As a mom I’m so proud of him, but I hesitate to let him go to areas like downtown Toronto, where a couple of assaults on Chinese were on the news in April alone. {4} My kids have developed a firm belief in Canadian values of tolerance and diversity.  My heart aches when I think of the very likelihood that one day when they experience discrimination, how that will break their hearts, and shatter the beloved image on their young minds of this place we call our home now.

That was why I felt an urge to dialogue with Derek Sloan, MP and Conservative Party leader contender, when he held a public meeting with the Chinese community on April 25.  A few days before he requested Canada’s federal Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam to step down or be fired, and asked whether the Hong Kong-born officer ” work for Canada or for China?” He was under criticism of racism by many, including PM Justine Trudeau and some of his own party members. {5}

Below is a record of our dialogues in instant text/voice message via online media apps, GoToWebinar and WeChat, as well as email.  The answers from Mr. Sloan are the transcripts compiled from his voice messages.

Questions from me:

Mr. Sloan, do you see the danger of discrimination against the Chinese community in the wake of COVID-19?  What do you think you can do to deal with that?  Thanks.

Do you know that Chinese communities across Canada have done a great deal since the end of January trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country, promoting self-quarantine for travellers coming back, helping with grocery deliveries, and finding PPE’s for our doctors and nurses?

While Canada performs relatively well among European and American countries, you are accusing of Dr. Theresa Tam’s loyalty to the country.  This accusation is not fair at all, and it imposes danger of further discrimination against Asians in this country.  Have you ever thought of the danger you may have caused?

Answers from Mr. Sloan:

Thank you for your questions and I did answer the racism question on the Webinar tonight, but I’d be happy to address it again. So just so you know, I did not question Dr Tam’s loyalty to Canada.  I just questioned some of the decisions that she made.  You can take a look at my video I put out and my letter I put out, there is nothing racial in it. I don’t think that Doctor Tam is being disloyal to Canada or anything like that.  I just explained that she made the wrong decisions so that’s basically the crux of that issue.

When it comes to targeting Chinese Canadians, yes I think it’s wrong and I think that right now people are frustrated and letting out their anger in different types of ways. But the way we deal with that in English we say Go–. so the best thing to do here is to make sure that people know where the false information is coming from, the World Health Organization of course is giving us the wrong advice and we need to be clear about that.  I think when we are clear on that Canadians will know who to blame, it is not Chinese Canadians, it’s these organizations that were giving us the wrong information.

Yes and thank you for raising the issue about Chinese contributions to helping people self-quarantine and social distance. I did mention that in the webinar, but I’m glad to mention it again.  I am very thankful for Chinese Canadians they’ve made great contributions to Canadian society.  They were some of the first people who raised alarm bells when it came to COVID-19. So thank you for doing that, and thank you for bringing that to my attention.

Another question we had there is about how to deal with the racism and I did talk about that in the webinar, but I’ll just talk about it a little bit now.  So yeah, we have to be very firm against real racist incidents which have been happening, but we also have to stop talking about fake racist incidents. And you know Justin Trudeau has been involved with a variety of racist incidents. He’s put on black face. He downplayed the Marissa Shen murder. He was talking about this hijab hoax which supposedly an Asian person that did it.  So Justin Trudeau is talking about all these fake racist incidents when he needs to be talking about real ones. And when you’re talking about fake things all the time, that’s what promotes this sort of racist attitude. We need to be giving people the answers of where the false information has been coming from and that will do a lot to prevent the racism that’s going on.

Anybody can look at my email that I sent out and see that the statement there “does she work for China or Canada?” that was a rhetorical question, it was not a statement. It doesn’t have anything to do with her loyalty, it has to do with the source of information that she was using and whether she looked at other information that was available at the same time. So, I’m not criticizing Dr. Tam’s loyalty, I’m just criticizing the advice that she gave Canada. And that is the main issue here that I’m concerned about.

I just want to thank you so much for coming on to the webinar tonight. I’m really excited to be able to reach out to Chinese Canadians. You all have made Canada a better place. You worked really hard when the coronavirus was first coming into Canada to help people to self-isolate. You were raising the alarm bells about the seriousness of the situation and I wish that our government had listened to you. I am looking forward to speaking to you again. It looks like it might be this coming Saturday. Please stay tuned for more information. Talk to you soon.  Good-bye Everyone.  Zai Jian!

Responses from me to Mr. Sloan:

Thank you for answering my questions.  And thank you for recognizing Chinese Canadians’ contribution in the battle against COVID-19.  I appreciate your effort of coming over to communicate with us.  When you asked whether Dr. Tam worked for Canada or for China, you were questioning her loyalty, or at least it left the impression on people’s mind.  If you did not mean it, you should apologize for this particular statement to Dr. Tam.

It is a question that implies Dr. Tam may be working for China. It hurts. She might have made some mistakes, but she has been working very hard to protect Canadians to her knowledge. It worries me. We work hard for Canada, and one day if we make a mistake, we would be questioned on our loyalty to the country. Add a time when discrimination against Chinese community is lurking, we especially need politicians try all means and use all rhetorical words to protect us. I have no problem with your questioning whether Dr. Tan’s decisions are good or bad. What I am perplexed with is this particular question.

To single out Dr. Tam does not solve the real problem.  We need to revisit our whole system, which includes chief health officers at federal, provincial and regional level, government officials, and management teams at hospitals and long-term facilities. What can we do to improve the system, and encourage them to listen to the voice of local communities and frontline doctors and nurses, plus to use their own judgement calls to respond more quickly to new challenges?  This is a question for all countries globally.  To ask whether Dr. tam works for Canada or for China does not give the answer.  Instead, it has aroused rumors of her being a spy on social media.  It brings risks to our community and to our kids.  I kindly urge you to come along with us, and see the extra difficulty the Asian community is experiencing, in addition to other worries facing all Canadians in the COVID-19 crisis.  You then would probably choose a different approach to execute your power, and help Canada progress to a healthier future for everyone.

Epilogue:

While I do not think there is fake racism in this case, and I do not like the way politicians take every opportunity to attack their opponents, I do appreciate Mr. Sloan making the effort to communicate with us.  I wish dialogues like this could continue so people would get to know and understand each other better.  I also wish Mr. Sloan, actually each and every elected official, turn out to be a Politician with integrity, kindness, wisdom, and take real and effective actions to tackle racism, among other big issues facing  the country.

References:

{1} On Preventing Coronavirus Outbreak in Canada, an article I wrote about the volunteer work Chinese communities had been doing and some of the challenges back in February 2020:

http://www.eawlc.org/preventing-coronavirus-outbreak-canada

Love Knows No Boundary, an article written by a volunteer group in Ottawa, summarizing some of the contributions reported by Canada’s mainstream media of the Chinese communities fighting COVID-19 across Canada:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tTs6YvZfHvri695NcLxvlVb70mno_wnO/view?fbclid=IwAR1xAy4k4GUCmF5z9uhA8EEl0x-o0W3kXo-0RhMq9HiK7F39ayiMo4ipz9M

{2} Canada’s early COVID-19 cases came from the U.S. not China, provincial data shows, Ryan Tumilty, The National Post, April 30, 2020:

https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/canadas-early-covid-19-cases-came-from-the-u-s-not-china-provincial-data-shows

{3} One in 5 Canadians think it’s not safe to sit beside an Asian person on the bus, according to recent poll,  Wanyee Li, The Star, April 27, 2020:

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/04/27/one-in-5-canadians-think-its-not-safe-to-sit-beside-an-asian-person-on-the-bus-according-to-recent-poll.html

{4} ‘It happened because I’m Asian’: Toronto ER nurse says she was spit on, verbally assaulted, Phil Tsekouras, CTV, April 9, 2020:

https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/it-happened-because-i-m-asian-toronto-er-nurse-says-she-was-spit-on-verbally-assaulted-1.4890363

ER doctor worries about COVID-19 racism, CBC, April 24, 2020:

https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1729189443959

{5} County officials in Sloan’s riding call on Scheer to take action over ‘cruel, racist’ comments, Sarah Turnbull, CTV, April 23, 2020: https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/county-officials-in-sloan-s-riding-call-on-scheer-to-take-action-over-cruel-racist-comments-1.4908902?cache=nkwcgcjqfzosqu%3FclipId%3D89530

Derek Sloan ignores calls to apologize for attack on Canada’s top doctor, Peter Zimonjic, Catherine Cullen, CBC, April 29, 2020:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/tam-sloan-china-caucus-apology-ontario-1.5550103

关于种族主义:与德里克·斯隆的对话

自今年1月底以来,向许多其他加国华人志愿者一样,我参与了华人社区自发组织的防止新冠病毒蔓延的互助行动,对加国防疫过程中的试试飞飞、酸甜苦辣深有体会。华人社区早期的返加者自我隔离行动。对帮助控制疫情有非常积极的作用。安省、魁省等多个省份的数据表明,加拿大的早期确诊患者,绝大部分来自从美国或其他热点地区,如欧洲国家返回的旅行者,却很少有来自中国的旅行者。但随着病毒肆虐全球,各国的经济、社会生活和人们的身心健康受到越来越严重的挑战,一些人开始把他们内心的害怕和沮丧情绪发泄到了亚裔身上。一项民意调查显示,有20%的加拿大人认为,在公交车上坐在一个亚裔身边是不安全的。世界各地包括加拿大在内,针对亚裔的种族歧视和仇恨犯罪也显著增长。这令我深感忧虑。我的大儿子今年上12年级,可以开车了。他自告奋勇为我有基础疾病的朋友们买菜送菜,为护士们送去其他义工缝制的防护帽。作为妈妈,我为他感到自豪,但是我不愿意他去像多伦多市中心这样的地方,觉得不安全。那里光四月份就有两起针对华人的仇恨行为建筑新闻报导。孩子们在这里接受的教育,令他们对种族主义言行很敏感,内心有非常坚定的多元、包容的信念。一想到他们将来如果遭到歧视,内心会多么受伤;他们未经世事的头脑里,那个完美的加拿大主流价值观又会受到多大的冲击,我就感到分外难过。

所以,当加拿大联邦国会议员、联邦保守党党魁参选者德里克·斯隆怪罪加拿大首席公共卫生观谭咏诗防疫政策制定有误、应该下台,并诘问这位香港出生的卫生关到底是在为加拿大还是在为中国工作的时候,我感到有必要做点什么。斯隆在4月25号晚上举行了一个与华人社区的视频见面会。其时他正因为两天前对谭医生的诘问遭到很多批评,指责他有种族主义倾向。批评者中也包括总理贾斯汀·特鲁多,以及他的一些保守党同僚。我没有任何政治党派背景,但是想去和他就种族主义问题进行交流,于是就参加了。见面会感觉是为了宣扬他的政策和观点,并没有与公众的直接交流时间。我在留言板上留下了三个问题。视频见面会后,会议主持人之一邀请他进了一个我也在的微信群,他在那里用语音回答了我提出的这些问题。几天后我又给他发了一封电子邮件,希望继续讨论,不过迄今没有收到回复。下面是我们之间对话的一点记录,其中斯隆的回答由他的微信语音整理而成。

我的问题:

斯隆先生,请问您有没有意识到新冠疫情给华人社区带来的种族主义危险?您觉得您可以做些什么来应对它?谢谢。

您知道自一月底以来,华人社区付出了很大的努力抗击新冠病毒在加拿大的传播吗,比如促进返加者进行自我隔离、帮助送菜上门、为一线医护人员筹措防护用品等等?

加拿大的抗议表现,在欧美国家中尚属不错,您却质疑谭咏诗医生对国家的忠诚。这完全不公正,也给亚裔带来更大的种族主义危险。您考虑过您可能带来的这些危险吗?

斯隆的回答:

谢谢你提问。今晚在视频见面会上我回答过关于种族主义的问题,现在很乐意再说一遍。我没有质疑谭医生对国家的忠诚,我只是在质疑她做出的某些决定。你可以看看我发出的邮件以及录像,那里没有任何种族主义的东西。我从未想过谭医生对国家不忠,我只是在解释她做出了错误的决定。

说到针对华人的攻击,我认为那样做是错误的。我觉得现在大家都很沮丧,正在用各种不同的方式发泄他们的愤怒。最好的应对方法就是让人们知道虚假的信息来自何处?我们应该清楚,世界卫生组织发出了错误的指示。我认为一旦我们明白了这一点,加拿大人民就会知道该去谴责谁了:不是华裔,而是向世卫组织这样给出错误信息的机构。

谢谢提醒华人在帮助人们进行自我隔离和保持社交距离方面作出的贡献。我在视频会上提到过,很高兴在这里再说一次。我很感谢加国华人,他们对加拿大社会做出了巨大的贡献。他们是最早一批在加拿大拉响新冠疫情警报的人。对此我表示感谢,也谢谢你提出这一点。

还有一个问题是如何应对种族主义?我在见面会上谈过,这里还想再谈谈。我们固然需要坚决反对已经或者正在发生的、真实的种族主义事件,但是我们也需要制止讨论虚构的种族主义事件。你们知道,贾斯汀·特鲁多涉入了多起种族主义事件。他画黑脸扮黑人,对温哥华沈姓女童谋杀案轻描淡写,却对杜撰出来的亚裔剪头巾事件发表评论。所以他在谈论那些虚构的种族主义事件,却对真正的事件避而不谈。如果你总是说些虚构的东西,就会促成人们的种族主义态度。我们需要告知人们虚假信息的来源,这样就可以在很大程度上防止正在兴起的种族主义。

人人都可以看出在我发出的电子邮件中,那句“她是在为加拿大,还是在为中国工作?”不是一个断语,而是一个修辞问句。这个问句无关乎她的忠诚,只关乎她使用什么样的信息来源、当时是否察看了其他可用的信息。所以我不是在质疑谭医生的忠诚,而是在批评她给加拿大的建议。这才是我关心的主要问题。

非常感谢你今晚来参加我的视频见面会。我很激动能和加拿大的华裔进行接触。你们让加拿大成为了一个更好的地方。新冠病毒刚传到加拿大的时候,你们努力帮助人们进行自我隔离。你们预警了事态的严重性,我但愿我们的政府听取了你们的声音。期待与你继续交谈。有可能就在下周六,请注意查看有关讯息。回聊。各位再见。Zai Jian!

我的回复:

谢谢您回答我的问题,也谢谢您认可华人社区在抗击新冠病毒中的贡献。我感谢您为了前来和我们进行交流而付出的努力。当您问谭医生是在为加拿大还是在为中国工作的时候,您就是在质疑她的忠诚,或者至少在人们的心中留下了这样的印象。如果您没有这个意思,就应该为这句话向谭医生道歉。

这个问题暗示谭医生有可能是在为中国工作。这很伤人。她有可能犯了一些错误,但她一直在非常努力地工作,敬她所知保护加拿大。这样的问题也让我担心。我们为加拿大努力工作,但有一天如果我们失手犯了一个错误,就会被质疑对这个国家的忠诚。当针对华人社区的歧视正四处潜伏时,我们需要的是政治家们用一切可能的方法和修辞语句去保护我们。我不反对您去质疑谭医生的建议是好是坏,困扰我的只是您的这个诘问。

单挑谭医生出来批判无助于解决真正的问题。我们需要重新审视这个国家的整个卫生系统,包括联邦、省及地区的各级首席卫生官,各级政府官员,以及各个医院和养老院的管理阶层。我们能做些什么来改进这个系统,鼓励系统里的每一个人去倾听来自社区和一线医生护士的声音,并运用自己的判断,更快地应对从未有过的危机?这是一个横亘在世界所有国家面前的问题。质问谭医生是为加拿大还是为中国工作无法解答这个问题。它只是在社交媒体上掀起了谭医生是中国间谍的谣言。它给我们的社区和孩子带来了更多的危险。我促请您和我们站在一起,体察亚裔社区在这场疫情中遭受的双重困难。那样您也许就会在运用权力时,采取与现在不同的方式,去为所有加拿大人争取一个更健康的未来。

后记:

我不认为我们正在讨论的,是一个虚构的种族主义事件。我也不喜欢政客们利用一切机会攻击对手的做法。但是我赞赏斯隆先生做出努力,来和我们进行对话。希望能有更多这样的对话,人们能够更加了解彼此。我也但愿斯隆先生以及每一个民选官员都能成为一个正直、善良、有智慧的政治家,采取切实有效的措施,解决种族主义以及我们这个国家面临的其他重大问题。

参考资料:请见英文部分最后的References。

汪洋

定稿于2020年5月12日。

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