Plan B

December 5th, 2004

Sunday, December 05, 2004

For a brief time in the mid 1980’s I resided in that jewel of a city, Hong Kong. The Sino-British Joint Declaration had just been signed, meaning that Hong Kong would revert to the control of China in 1997. Brits being Brits, they at the same time let it be known that henceforth most holders of British Hong Kong passports would not be permitted to reside in the U.K. There was a palpable sense of angst in the air as the city’s five million inhabitants weighed their options.

Here was the dilemma. Hong Kongers, by and large, loved their city and regarded most any other place on Earth, as you might consider Podunk. Yet, forces beyond their control had created some serious risk thirteen years down the pike, if they stayed put. The foreboding soon gave way to plans of action as the people of Hong Kong realized they had been granted a reprieve. Their salvation lay in Canada.

Not willing to miss an opportunity, back then our country offered a haven to anyone who could afford it. They could dump some dollars into La Belle Province, pick-up a Canadian permanent resident visa and live, or pretend to live, in Vancouver. Presto! three years later they obtained Canadian passports. Those were heady days for immigration lawyers. It was reported that one enterprising solicitor amassed a fortune of forty million dollars by concocting ways to beat the system, even as some senior partners at his venerable Toronto law firm looked the other way.

Unfortunately, the alleged schemer fell, jumped, or was pushed from a downtown high-rise and most of the juicy details were buried with him. If you want more details on that sordid affair and other maneuverings by pinstriped Canadians, I suggest you read “Gut Instinct: The Making of an Investigative Journalist” by Victor Malarek. But I digress… Here’s the point. It’s not that Hong Kongers wanted to emigrate. In daily conversation, the phrase “immigrating to Canada” was commonly referred to as “going to jail”. But that didn’t stop them from putting “Plan B” in place — just in case. If Hong Kong was going to hell in a handbasket, they had their exit strategy at the ready. Now fast-forward twenty years:

The following stories were gleaned from my local newspaper a couple of days ago.

In his resignation speech the Director of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, announced that we have to be right 100% of the time… they need only be right once… an impossible task. Shopping mall security guards were instructed by the authorities to make eye contact with shoppers, and look for either extremely focused people, or those who won’t return a look. No further recommendations were offered as to what action should be taken against the poor schlep who diverts his glance. We can only imagine. You’re thinking a shopping mall in a Tel-Aviv suburb? No, a shopping mall outside Hartford, Conn.

The ACLU joined with dozens of activist groups in demanding information about federal counterterrorism surveillance efforts, alleging that the FBI and local police departments have targeted peaceful protest groups and law-abiding citizens for scrutiny based on their political beliefs. And that’s one day’s news. Some Americans have made, or are making plans in the event that… happens. What about the rest of America? What more has to happen before they adopt Plan B? Chinese civilization and culture dates back to 2200 B.C. With age comes wisdom. The Pilgrims came to New England less than 400 years ago. With youth comes a sense of immortality.

Blog written by David Cohen

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