I am writing to express perplexity and outrage regarding Toronto Dominion Bank’s recent decision to arbitrarily close the bank accounts of Canadian citizens of Iranian descent.
As a third generation Japanese Canadian, whose grandparents and parents were summarily rounded up and incarcerated in 1942, losing all property and most of their possessions, this action by the bank brings back thoughts of that very dark period of Canadian history. The incarceration of the Japanese Canadians was done under the War Measures Act, the Canadian government having deemed them threats to national security. From 1942 to 1946 this group of citizens were deprived of their basic human rights as Canadians, based solely on their country of origin
Now, seventy years later, another group of citizens, whose ‘crime’ is to be of Iranian descent- many who arrived as immigrants and investors, but a significant number of whom sought refuge in Canada during and following the revolution in their country. They are members of a community that in less than thirty years has made innumerable, impressive contributions to the fabric of Canadian society, and are now being deprived of a basic human right, based on a loose interpretation of a poorly-conceived government embargo against their home country, a country that historically has never had any imperialistic visions in the Middle East.
When my parents were rounded up, housed in cattle stalls in Hastings Park and then moved onto trains to move them to ghost towns such as Tashme, Slocan, Lemon Creek and New Denver, they recalled that one of the greatest hurts of relocation, was that no other Canadian friends saw them off to their imprisonment.
As a Canadian, I cannot watch another community be put through this egregious humiliation. TD Bank owes affected Iranian Canadians a proper explanation as to why their accounts have been closed, or better, should reopen all accounts, pending a proper investigation.
Dr Jim Sugiyama