Vietnam's foreign ministry voiced objections to the Canadian Senate's passage of a bill that recognized April 30 as a national day, saying it distorted "historical facts" and served "personal political agenda."
The Bill S-219, sponsored by Conservative Senator Thanh Hai Ngo and passed on Monday.
On Friday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Le Hai Binh condemned the bill, saying it contained "misinformation," "distortions of historical fact" and represented a clear effort to "dredge up the sad past" and "divide the Vietnamese national solidarity to serve a personal political agenda.”
The Canadian Senate’s approval of this bill undermined the increasingly cordial relations between Vietnam and Canada, Binh said.
The so-called "Journey to Freedom Act," which recognizes April 30 as a national day to commemorate the "exodus" of Vietnamese refugees and their acceptance in Canada after the 1975 fall of the US-backed government in Saigon.
The bill will go to the House of Commons, for further review.
If the bill was passed by the Commons, Viet Dung Vu, a diplomat at the Vietnamese embassy in Ottawa, told The Canadian Press that it would “have an adverse impact on the growing bilateral relationship between Vietnam and Canada, as well as efforts devoted to broadening and deepening our ties, including trade and investment relations.".
“It will send the wrong message to the public of Vietnam and the international community about Canada’s goodwill toward our country,” he said.
“The Canada-Vietnam Trade Council warned in a letter to the Senate’s human rights committee that the bill would negatively affect the government’s economic aspirations because it would [sic]so divisions among Vietnamese Canadians,” The Canadian Press reported.
The national news agency quoted Dai Trang Nguyen, the council’s director, as saying the bill reflects the view of less than five per cent of Vietnamese Canadians and promotes a view “of the past, of hatred, of negativity, resulting in neglect of the well-being of future generations.”
The Canadian Press also quoted the Liberal leader in the upper chamber, Sen. James Cowan, as saying that the Canadian government blocked the Vietnamese ambassador from testifying before the Senate about his concerns.
Cowan also said the "contentious" bill would "stir up devisions" when Canada is trying to improve relations with Vietnam.