Prime Minister Harper speaks to Chinese-Canadians on Saturday, pledging Apology for Chinese Head Tax and compensation for “direct victims”

Prime Minister Harper speaks to Chinese-Canadians on
Saturday, pledging Apology for Chinese Head Tax and compensation for
“direct victims”

 
 
The PM commented on the HT apology last night.  He spoke at the
10th Anniverasary for the Chinese Canadian Enterpreneur Awards Dinner,
in Markham Ontario – just north of Toronto.  Various News media
also attended the event, and their stories are posted below.

 
He also made the following remarks to Fairchild Radio earlier in the
year:

Q: However, a lot of the victims we have spoken to – the surviving

victims –

are very concerned whether a Conservative Government would directly

speak to

them and whether there would be compensation to the individual victims.

 

Harper:  I certainly think that
it is appropriate to give compensation, individual compensation, to
those who were the direct victims of the Head Tax.  There also
have to be some, obviously some public works dedicated towards greater
acknowledgment towards the community as a whole.  But certainly I
have no difficulty with the concept that those who were the direct
victims of the Head Tax should be compensated.


 

Q:  So a Conservative Government would directly compensate the victims?

 

Harper:  Yes, obviously the
amount and all of those sorts of things would have to be negotiated and
we want to create a broad consensus on this package.

 

 
April 8, 2006

Harper mulls head-tax apology

By GILLIAN LIVINGSTON

Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the 2006 Chinese Canadian
Entrepreneur Awards. (CP PHOTO/Nathan Denette)

MARKHAM, Ont. (CP) – The Conservative government will consult with the
Chinese Canadian community about how it will apologize for the “grave
injustice” of the Chinese head tax and exclusionary act, Prime Minister
Stephen Harper said Saturday.

Harper made the comments to an audience of Chinese business people,
just days after his government promised in its maiden throne speech to
formally apologize for the discriminatory head tax put in place in late
19th and early 20th centuries.

The Conservatives have “long recognized the grave injustice of these
past discriminatory measures,” and will now act on that belief, Harper
told a black-tie awards ceremony north of Toronto.

“As promised from the recent speech from the throne, our government
will move in Parliament to offer a formal apology for the Chinese head
tax,” said Harper, receiving a minute-long standing ovation from more
than 800 people in the crowd.

“We will be consulting with the Chinese Canadian community to establish
a consensus for further recognition and reconciliation of this sad
period of our history,” he said.

But Harper gave no further details about when the government might make
the apology or what other redress might be offered.  Nor has the
government stated whether it will offer monetary compensation to the
few hundred remaining survivors who paid the $50 to $500 tax to enter
this country.

The tax, forced to be paid by Chinese immigrants has long been a wrong
Chinese Canadians felt had to be righted.  Between 1885 and 1923,
nearly 81,000 Chinese immigrants paid $23 million to enter Canada
through the tax imposed by the government in response to rising
immigration during the B.C. gold rush.

Following the imposition of the head tax, Canada implemented the
Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigrants altogether until
it was repealed in 1947.

The promise for broad consultation seems a veiled reference to a
controversial deal the former Liberal government reached in the last
days before the election call in late November.  The Liberals had
swiftly signed a $2.5 million deal with the National Congress of
Chinese Canadians that offered no apology and no
compensation.  But it was denounced by some Chinese Canadians who felt they hadn't had a say in the agreement.

“Chinese Canadians have made . . . an invaluable contribution to Canada
and your community deserves nothing less than a full apology for this
past wrong,” Harper said.

“Our government will always be mindful of the integral role played by
Chinese Canadians in Canadian society and in turn will always afford
this community the respect to which it is entitled.”

Earlier in his speech, Harper applauded Chinese Canadians who helped
fuel the gold rush in British Columbia, worked tirelessly on the iron
rails that linked Canada through a national railway, and, today, own
businesses that keep the country's economy growing.

Catherine Swift, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent
Business, called Harper's pledge to apologize for the discriminatory
head tax “long overdue.”

“The fact that we had a recognition of the need to apologize for the
head tax for Chinese Canadians, I thought that was an enormous,
enormous accomplishment,” Swift said, her statement interrupted by
strong applausefrom the audience.

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2006/04/08/pf-1526246.html

 

PM repeats pledge to formally apologize for head tax

Last Updated Sun, 09 Apr 2006 09:25:16 EDT
CBC News <http://www.cbc.ca/news/credit.html>

Prime Minister Stephen Harper received a standing ovation at a
Chinese-Canadian awards dinner Saturday night after renewing his
promise to apologize for the head tax once imposed on Chinese
immigrants.

Harper said his government will consult with the Chinese-Canadian
community about how it will apologize for what he called the “grave
injustice” of the discriminatory tax.

Stephen Harper talks to the audience during the 2006 Chinese Canadian
Entrepreneur Awards on Saturday. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press) 
He made the comments to a Chinese-Canadian business group in Markham,
Just north of Toronto.

    FROM THE ARCHIVES: A
http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-69-1433/life_society/chinese_immigration/

Tale of Perseverance: Chinese Immigration to Canada

“Chinese-Canadians have made … an invaluable contribution to Canada
and your community deserves nothing less than a full apology for this
past wrong,” Harper said.

“Our government will always be mindful of the integral role played by
Chinese-Canadians in Canadian society and in turn will always afford
this community the respect to which it is entitled.”

The Conservatives' throne speech on April 4 included a promise to
Formally apologize for the head tax imposed on nearly 81,000 Chinese
immigrants between 1885 and 1923.  The tax, costing each immigrant
between $50 and $500 to enter the country, was followed by the Chinese
Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigration until its repeal in
1947.

In November 2005, the federal government – then led by Paul Martin and
his Liberals – signed a $2.5-million deal with one prominent Chinese
group to set up educational projects to commemorate those who paid the
tax.
But the agreement angered other Chinese-Canadian groups, who complained they had not been consulted. 

Only about 800 people who paid the head tax are alive, but there are many descendants across the country.

Copyright <http://www.cbc.ca/aboutcbc/discover/copyright.html>  (c)2006
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – All Rights Reserved
 
http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/04/09/harper-headtax060409.html
?print
 

April 9, 2006



Chinese hail PM


Harper repeats pledge to formally apologize for head tax, hints at more

By BRETT CLARKSON, TORONTO SUN

MARKHAM — Prime Minister Stephen Harper received a standing ovation
last night at a Chinese-Canadian gala dinner after repeating the
government's promise to apologize to the community for the
discriminatory head tax.

Harper lauded the contributions made by Chinese-Canadians at the 10th
annual Chinese-Canadian Entrepreneur Awards, organized by the
Association of Chinese-Canadian Entrepreneurs.

“In each and every country that Chinese people have settled, there have
been great benefits as a result of the hard work and entrepreneurial
spirit they've brought,” Harper said.

Harper called the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, built
largely by Chinese labourers who did sometimes deadly work, “probably
the most important nation-building enterprise in Canadian history.”
Harper again promised to formally apologize in Parliament for the Head
Tax and Exclusion Act, prompting the audience in the ballroom of the
Hilton Suites to stand and applaud for almost a minute.

“We will be consulting with the Chinese-Canadian community to establish
a consensus for further recognition and reconciliation of this sad
period in our history,” Harper said, suggesting more than an apology is
in the works.

A $50 head tax was imposed on Chinese immigrants in 1885 to discourage
them from coming to Canada. The tax was increased to $100 in 1900 and
to $500 in 1903.
 
A total of eight awards were handed out, including a lifetime
Achievement award for Tong Louie.

http://torontosun.com/News/TorontoAndGTA/2006/04/09/pf-1526855.html

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