Toronto Star: Toronto Chinese head tax community meets with Bev Oda for consultation

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Toronto Star: Toronto Chinese head tax community meets with Bev Oda for consultation

Toronto Star: Toronto Chinese head tax community meets with Bev Oda for consultation

Apr. 22, 2006. 01:00 AM

Chinese keep up head-tax pressure
Families address officials who will shape redress plan
Government has promised apology for `discriminatory acts'

by NICHOLAS KEUNG

IMMIGRATION/DIVERSITY REPORTER

 More than 400 people showed up at a consultation in Toronto last night to give federal Heritage Minister Bev Oda an earful over the new government's Chinese head-tax redress plan.

Since Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in the throne speech earlier this month that Canada would offer an apology in Parliament to people who paid the head tax and their families, the Chinese Canadian community has been holding its own public meetings across the country.

The Ontario Coalition of Head Tax Payers and Families and its national counterparts have registered 600 people, including eight head-tax payers — all now 98 to 106 years old — and 92 surviving spouses.

Some 81,000 Chinese paid $23 million to enter Canada under the head-tax scheme between 1885 and 1923, when the Chinese Exclusion Act was enacted to bar Chinese immigrants altogether. The act wasn't repealed until 1947.

Speaking before the closed-door consultation, Oda acknowledged the “racially biased and discriminatory acts of the government at that time” and stressed this government's commitment to issue an apology and redress.

Yesterday's meeting was the second in a series by the Oda and Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast) to seek opinions from the Chinese community on the redress package, to be completed by the end of the year. Other stops include Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton.

Linda Ing, 67, was born in China but didn't join father Ralph Lung Kee Lee in Canada until she was 12 in 1952. The Pickering woman said she was thrilled to share her family's story with Oda.

“It'd be nice for Dad to get an apology when he's still alive. He deserves an apology for all the sacrifices that he made to send his family and relatives here,” said Ing, whose father, now 106, arrived here in 1912 with two uncles, then 9 and 5. All worked on the railroad.

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