Sid Tan and Gim Wong make news
for Head Tax apology reaction
My friends Sid Tan and Gim Wong keep turning up in newspapers today.
There's the front page of Metro News, and a picture in the Vancouver Sun (see below)
Last night I saw them on Global News, holding court in the Guys and Dolls
Billiards where Sid decided to hold a press conference as he and Gim
watched the Throne Speech on television.
I went down after work, and had a bite to eat with Sid, as he told me what
happened. He was very pleased that about 7 televison cameras had
shown up. Gim was not dressed in his Air Force uniform. He is the WW2
veteran that rode his motorcycle across Canada to Ottawa this past summer,
to protest the government's refusal to redress Chinese head tax.
Gim Wong in Ottawa – his motorcycle with the sign “Ride for Redress”,
speaking with NDP leader Jack Layton outside the Museum of Civilization.
Sid describes the event:
always is – on and off message about WW II and life in Chinatown.
Gim was truly happy about the mention in the Throne Speech and
showed it. That'll be the bite that gets out. Generally, we were on message
about two stager, framework timeline, auspicious announcement times, etc..
I counted six or seven cameras including CBC, Global, City CTV and
Fairchild. Multivan could have been there. CBC radio and some others.
Vancouver Sun, Metro News and local Chinese language media.
Below is the Vancouver Sun Article
Chinese-Canadians hail move on head tax
Activist says the Tories are offering an apology and
redress in order to win political support in key urban areas
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
reference to an apology for the Chinese head tax was brief, but its inclusion
in the Conservative government's throne speech Tuesday was hailed as a major
victory by Chinese-Canadian activists who have pushed the issue for many
wish it was a louder and stronger signal, but it was a signal
nonetheless,” said Sid Tan, the grandson of a head-tax payer and a
director of the Chinese Canadian National Council.
said he's “cautiously optimistic” that an apology will be followed
by compensation in the coming budget for the approximately 200 surviving
head-tax payers and their survivors.
hopes the money will be announced on July 1 — the anniversary of the repeal
of the head tax.
who helped spearhead the drive for an apology, watched the throne speech at a
pool hall on Main Street.
There he heard Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean read:
“The government will act in Parliament to offer an apology for the
Chinese Head Tax.”
told reporters he wasn't upset about waiting until the end of the speech to
hear one sentence about the head tax.
waited 20 years for the government to announce something. I think it's a
positive step. It's more than has ever happened before.”
head tax, which soared to $500, roughly two years' salary, was in place from
1885 to 1923. About 81,000 Chinese immigrants paid $23 million to enter Canada under
the head-tax program.
of the Chinese-Canadians who paid the tax built Canada's first trans-continental
Ottawa's aim was to
keep Chinese immigrants out of Canada.
head tax was enforced until July 1, 1923, when it was replaced by the Chinese
Immigration Act, which excluded Chinese immigrants
altogether until it was repealed in 1947.
watched the throne speech with Gim Foon Wong, who grew up in Vancouver's
Chinatown and whose parents paid the head
called the throne speech mention of a head-tax apology a “huge
breakthrough.” He added: “Instead of talking about it, let's settle
it, for God's sake.”
summer Wong, 83, rode his motorcycle to Ottawa
to seek redress for the head tax.
said the Conservatives are offering an apology and redress in order to win
political support among Chinese-Canadians in key urban seats.
else would they be doing it? They saw the wind blowing during the
election,” he said.
I would like to think that they are doing it because it's an issue of
Tories had earlier supported the Liberal position that an apology could open
the door to costly legal claims by Chinese-Canadians and other groups who
believe they've been subjected to discrimination.
at least three of Harper's B.C. candidates, Darrel Reid, John Cummins, and Kanman Wong, broke from that position and called for a
new deal that includes at least an apology and possibly compensation. Then
Conservative leader Stephen Harper reversed his position early in the
election campaign, calling for an apology.