Wednesday, 22 April 2009

How World Decisions Are Made

Jim Cross of Victoria, BC, who earned a DFC in Bomber Command with 425 Squadron and who worked for the federal government after the war, sent this on receipt of our November newsletter:

“Your reference to the Aga Khan brought back memories of the 1972 expulsion by Idi Amin of Asians who had lived in Uganda for years, I was the acting Assistant Deputy Minister for Immigration, and chaired the inter-agency committee set up for the crisis. I felt that, if our vaunted policy of non-discrimination was to be followed, we had to do something about the refugees. We obtained the OK of the minister. The Aga Khan came to offer his support. We entertained him at a luncheon which took place during that famous USSR-Canada hockey series which some of us were watching in the anteroom prior to going into the dining room. Alan McGill, a friend of mine from External Affairs, wondered how we could keep current with the game. I told him that I would ask the steward to keep me posted and that I would relay the score by hand signal, the left for the Soviets and the right for Canada. His Highness was part way through his speech when the steward told me that it was a 2-2 tie. Up went both my hands. The Aga Khan caught this and said "Then you agree with me Mr. Cross?"

I like to say that at that point we agreed to take 6,000 refugees from Uganda. They turned out to be among the best qualified immigrants we ever had. 25 years later the Aga Khan sponsored a reunion in Ottawa. Many of the attending Ugandans were now successful lawyers, doctors, and businessmen. I choked up when two of their daughters sang “O Canada" in both official languages.”

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