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Title: Orest Kruhlak Interview
Narrator: Orest Kruhlak
Interviewers: Roger Daniels (primary); Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: August 3, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-korest-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

RD: I'd like to read to you a passage from a fine new book by Greg Robinson, A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America. He doesn't say much about redress, but he says this: "In 1984, Trudeau resigned and the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney was swept into office by elections shortly afterward. Mulroney was sympathetic to claims by Japanese Canadians (and may also have hoped to use redress as an incentive for Tokyo to sign a free trade treaty), but he hesitated to place a dollar value, a dollar amount on a settlement. The NAJC responded by commissioning a study from the esteemed accounting firm of Price Waterhouse. It estimated that the official actions had cost the Japanese community in Canada some $333 million dollars in revenue and $110 million in property (in 1986 dollars). In addition to the impressive rise of this damage claim, both Japanese Canadians -- and impressive size of this damage claim -- both Japanese Canadians and government officials focused on the progress of redress in the United States. In 1988, even as the United States Congress passed H.R. 442, a final round of negotiations was scheduled between Japanese Canadians and the Mulroney government on a redress package. When the parties became deadlocked, the prime minister named his close collaborator, Secretary of State Lucien Bouchard to lead the government's team. Bouchard used his influence to broker an agreement on a redress package, and the plan was voted into law in September 1988, some six weeks after redress was enacted in Washington." What do think of the accuracy of that?

OK: I think most of it is accurate. I'm not, I don't know much about Bouchard's involvement. He took over from David Crombie as Secretary of State, and he was very, very close to Prime Minister Mulroney at the time. They became bitter enemies, but I think that he, he may be overstating Bouchard's influence. I think that -- I think the person who deserves a great deal of credit for the settlement from the government of Canada's point of view is Anne Scotton. I think Anne, one, she's a very, very, incredibly bright young woman -- she's not a young woman anymore -- but she's very articulate, very persuasive, and she, you know, was, I think, able to prevail within the department that the position of the NAJC was a just position. She may be the one who persuaded Bouchard, and Bouchard went to the Prime Minister. In my view, once the settlement was announced in the United States, it was a fait accompli in Canada. I think anybody who had been there --

RD: But that's not what we get here.

OK: No. I think, I honestly believe very strongly that the U.S. agreement guaranteed the Canadian agreement irrespective of who the Secretary of State was. I think that --

RD: That's my view.

OK: Yeah, and that's certainly my view. I think that that's, that, Robinson is overstating Bouchard's role. I think that, from everything I know and that I've learned from Anne is that she, she had an agreement with the NAJC and she was able to sell that agreement within the department.

RD: She still in government?

OK: Yeah. I think she is. Now, again, I haven't talked to her in probably five years. And the last time I spoke to her she was in the Privy Council Office. I don't know if she's still there.

RD: She'd be a good person to interview, but if she's still in caucus, she probably doesn't, in government, she probably wouldn't want to.

OK: I don't know. I can try and reach and talk to her and see if she... I'm trying to think how many years, she's a lot younger than I am. [Laughs] So she may still... I'll try and talk to her and see if she'd be interested. And she may be not that far from retirement.

RD: Where's she from?

OK: She's from Ottawa.

RD: I mean, she, that's where she'd retire?

OK: She's from Ottawa. That's where she's from. Her mother was... well, her whole family, they were very, very heavily involved with the CCF/NDP, and Anne is what you would term a "raving liberal."

RD: I know you mentioned Ed Broadbent.

OK: In fact, her family was very close to --

RD: Whom I met once. He was head of the NVP, and I think also was involved with the Autoworkers Union, wasn't he? No?

OK: No. He was an academic, professor of political philosophy, and then he came from Oshawa, which was the center of the automobile industry in Ontario. And he, I don't think he... no, he was never involved with the auto workers.

RD: Well, I guess, I guess I associated him with Oshawa and I've seen him at auto plants --

OK: Probably because he was in Oshawa.

TI: So, Orest, I want to go back just in terms of the outcome of the Canadian redress. Is it your sense that this was probably the best possible outcome for the Japanese Canadian community in terms of what finally ended up in terms of a settlement?

OK: Oh, absolutely. I think that certainly from the time when I was involved, up until '87, the position of the government of Canada was absolutely no individual compensation. It was going to be a foundation. In fact, at one point, we thought we had an agreement with the NACJ for seventy-five million dollars, and just as a foundation and no individual compensation. That there was a measure of despondency within the NACJ because of the recalcitrance of the federal government. And I think there were certainly some who were prepared to settle at that. Roy Miki, for example, would have never settled for anything less than individual compensation, but there were others who thought that was the best deal they could get. In Ottawa, Mr. Doering, my dear friend Mr. Doering, was a vocal opponent of providing that kind of level of compensation for the creation of a foundation at that level, and was able to persuade people not to agree to it. At which point the NACJ said, "That's it. You wouldn't go there, we are not bending from our original position. We want individual compensation, we want a foundation." The whole idea of the human rights or the race relations foundation was an add-on that came later, but I think they got as good a deal as they could ever get out of the government of Canada. I think it was... and going back to the passage that Roger read, I think that the U.S. settlement led to that. Had there not been a U.S. settlement, there would not have been that kind of generous settlement in Canada. I don't have any doubt about that at all.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.