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article imageWhat do Tamil immigrants think of Rob Ford's immigration remarks? Special

By Andrew Moran     Aug 19, 2010 in Politics
Toronto - The recent remarks made about immigration by Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford has united his opponents but what do immigrants themselves have to say about the candidate who remains first in the polls?
For the last few weeks, Canadian headline news has been dominated over the ship full of Tamil migrants that sought refuge in Canada. It became such a nationwide topic that it was one of the issues discussed at Tuesday’s CP24 Toronto mayoral debates.
During the debates, candidates were asked how Toronto should handle the Tamil migrants situation. Ford stated: “Right now we can’t even deal with the 2.5 million people in this city. I think it is more important to take care of people now before we start bringing in more people.” He later added: “How are we going to welcome another million people in? It is going to be chaotic. We can’t even deal with the chaos we have now.”
Digital Journal reported on Wednesday that Ford’s comments united his mayoral opponents; Rocco Rossi, Joe Pantalone, George Smitherman and Sarah Thomson. Rossi accused Ford of “closing the door on immigration,” while Thomson said: “We have seen the real Ford.”
Toronto skyline.
Toronto skyline.
What do Tamil immigrants say about Ford’s comments? Do they agree? Do they believe Ford’s comments are morally repugnant?
Dev Fakruddin, a Toronto Tamil activist who immigrated from Sri Lanka a couple of decades ago, explained to Digital Journal that he can understand the frustration of Ford and other Torontonians who feel that immigration has gotten out of hand in the city.
“In some ways, Ford is right. In other ways, Ford is wrong. I mean, Toronto is in a deep financial hole that spends a lot of money to take care of the couple of million people already here,” said Fakruddin. “But sometimes we just have to do the right thing and worry about the fiscal picture after the right thing has been done.”
He went onto state that Tamils are not welfare-seekers and they don’t plan to take any kind of handout from the government: “We are a self-determined people. We’re an educated people. We work hard and we’d never just go into a country and tell the government, ‘Hey, I’m here now so give me, give me, give me.'"
Toronto City Hall.
Toronto City Hall.
Fakruddin noted that when he came to Canada, the first thing he did was find a job, which was cleaning.
Ahilan, also a Tamil activist in the Greater Toronto Area who immigrated to Canada a few years ago, disagreed completely with Ford’s comments because “human lives and human rights are much more important than a city’s budget.”
He further added that Toronto is a multicultural city and has overcome its budget deficits and financial constraints because immigrants come to Toronto and provide “innovative means, which leads to economic growth.”
“The perception that immigrants just feed off the government is totally wrong. Immigrants, such as myself, want to come to a city that accepts others from around the world in order to make money and contribute to economic growth.”
Ahilan concluded: “I feel that wherever these Tamil migrants go, they’ll contribute to society.”
More about Rob Ford, Tamils, Immigration, Toronto, Canada
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