PM Harper meets with Head Tax Survivors and community redress leaders in Vancouver

PM Harper meets with Head Tax Survivors and community redress leaders in Vancouver




The BC Coalition of Head
Tax Payers, Spouses and Descendants, quickly organized a meeting for
Prime Minister Stephen Harper to meet with surviving head tax payers
and descendants.  This was similar to when the Coalition organized
a meeting of Head Tax payers, spouses and descendants to meet with
Parliamentary Secretary Jason Kenney, earlier the same day when Kenney
addressed the “town meeting” community consultation back in April.




Head Tax payer Charlie Quan was
there, as well as 83 year old Gim Wong, the WW2 Veteran who rode his
motorcycle to Ottawa last year to ask then PM Paul Martin for an
apology for Chinese Head Tax.




The BC Coalition had a meeting
following their meeting with PM Harper, and the atmosphere was very
jubilant.  Head tax descendant and spokesperson Karin Lee
presented the BC Coalition's proposal directly to the PM, which calls
for redress compensation for each head tax certificate, rather than
limiting to only 1st generation descendants such as sons and
daughters.  On the BC Coalition we feel that a “one payment – one
certificate” compensation package is the most fair.  For example
in some families, only the grandchildren are the surviving descendants
now.  As well, my 95 year old grandmother still holds her father's
brother's head tax certificate.  Her uncle's wife and son died
before he could bring them to Canada due to the exclusion act.  He
never saw his son.

Thursday » May 25 » 2006

 

PM Harper meets with head tax survivors in Vancouver to talk about
apology

 

Elianna Lev

Canadian Press


Thursday, May 25, 2006

 

image

Prime Minister Stephen Harper smiles while
participating in a private round table discussion beside Charlie Quan in Vancouver,
B.C., Thursday. Quan originally paid the
Chinese head tax when he immigrated to Canada. (CP/Richard Lam)

VANCOUVER
(CP) – The prime minister will apologize to Chinese head tax payers and their
families before Parliament rises for the summer.

Stephen
Harper had a one-hour meeting with three elderly head tax payers and other
members of the Chinese community on Thursday in Vancouver. Fewer than 20 Chinese Canadians
who paid the racist tax are still alive. Parliamentary Secretary Jason Kenney
said the meeting gave the Prime Minister a more human perspective on the
issue.

“If
nothing else this meeting means that when he offers his apology in the House
of Commons, he will be speaking with real feeling, with real meaning and not
just reading a speech that was written for him,” said Kenney.

“This
has added an important personal dimension to the prime minister to the whole
issue.”

A
redress package will also be announced in parliament within the next month.

No
exact details on the package were discussed Thursday.

“We're
going to try to come up with a package that reflects a consensus within the
community,” he said. “Not everybody will be completely satisfied
but most people should be generally satisfied.”

Eighty-four-year-old
Gim Wong, an air force veteran and descendant of
head tax payers, attended the meeting with Harper

“He
was very friendly,” he said.

“I'm
just so happy. He has a patience and he seems so
interested. I think that's very important. One step at a time.”

During
last election's campaigns, the Conservatives won some support from the
Chinese community after promising to apologize for the head-tax.

The
Liberals, however, were unclear at the time on where the stood on the issue.

David
Emerson, the industry minister at the time, suggested they had new advice
that put the government in the clear legally when it came to an apology.

Former
prime minister Paul Martin offered a “personal” apology on a
Chinese-language radio station.

Governments
dating back to Brian Mulroney's Conservatives have had a no-apology policy.

Kenney
acknowledged that there are many communities who have been victims of racism
but said the head-tax was a particularly appalling mark in Canadian history.

“There
was no other ethnic or cultural community that was so clearly targeted by
racist policies for so long,” he said.

Thousands
of Chinese immigrants were forced to pay the tax as the price of admission to
Canada
between 1885 and 1923.

© The
Canadian Press 2006


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http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2006/05/25/1597967-cp.html
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