Todd Wong on CBC Newsworld Sunday – speaking about head tax descendants

Todd Wong on CBC Newsworld Sunday – speaking about head tax descendants


I was interviewed for CBC Newsworld interview – at 10:35 am.  PST Sunday morning about the Chinese head tax and it's impact for descendants.

As the Conservateive government Chinese head tax redress package stands – only LIVING head tax payers and their spouses will recieve $20,000 in individual compensation – rather than a refund of $500, with accrued interest (value $100,000+)

But if your head tax paying father died, then there will be no payment.
If your head tax paying grandfather or grandmother worked their butts off for 5 years paying back the loans they incrued to pay the head tax, then lived in poverty for the next 10 or 40 years… then there will be no payment, if they are no longer living.

The host for CBC Newsworld Jackie Perrin asks me why descendants should recieve compensation.

“It's not for me. It's for my mother, whose father paid the head tax, but is now dead.  It's for my father, whose parents paid the head tax but are now dead.  It's for Gim Wong, who at 83 years old, rode his motorcycle across Canada from Victoria to Ottawa to ask for a simple apology from Paul Martin… but his head tax paying parents are now dead.

“One certificate – one payment.  It's only fair.”

My
British-Canadian girlfriend reminded me that morning, to speak about
the separation of families…  Families were purposely kept apart. 
Families were broken because of the head tax and the exclusion act.


In January, Deb Martin had watched “In the Shadow of Gold Mountain” on
television and was captivated by the stories being shared and told. 
Afterwards, she stated, she was “ashamed of being Canadian”, because Canada treated the Chinese so poorly, and had never apologized or made redress.


If
Canada wants to help educate all Canadians about the head tax/exclusion
act, and to ensure this kind of racism never happens again… then
rather than commemorative projects of Bronze walls…. please send
dvd/vhs copies of “In the Shadow of Gold Mountain” by Karen Cho – to
every home.  Send copies of Paul Yee's book “Struggle and Hope: The
story of Chinese Canadians to every home.”  Send copies of “The
Concubines Children” by Denise Chong.  Mount the play “Mom, Dad, I'm
Living with a White Girl,” by Marty Chan. 


CC
redress will not bring back loved ones, it cannot make up for the extra
years of hard work paid in blood, sweat and tears.  It cannot erase the
memories of Gim Wong being beaten and urinated on as a child.  It
cannot take away the shame that Chinese Canadian soldiers felt
unwanted.


But
it sends a message to Canadians that this is the RIGHT THING to do. 
Justice in OUR time.  The people who lived through the Head tax period
and Exclusion Act are still alive.  It is THEIR time. It is still OUR
time.  It is OUR time, as long as we choose to do something about it.


If
we choose to walk away from it, then we are doing what non-Chinese
Canadians did back then – by letting the Head Tax happen, by letting
the Exclusion Act happen.  


If
we choose to walk away from it, then we are doing what non-Japanese
Canadians did back then – by letting the internment happen, by letting
the confiscation of property happen.


If
we choose to walk away from it, then we are doing what the non-Jews in
Germany did back then – by letting the hooligans riot in the street on
“Crystal Night”, by letting Jews be put on trains to be sent to
concentration camps.


If
we are to be the best Canadians we can… then we will be inclusive of
ALL Canadians.  White, black, yellow, red, brown and pink, as well as
every shade inbetween and every shade beyond.  Because this is what it
means to be Canadian.  To be inclusive… to embrace cultural diversity
as our strength… to find the THIRD WAY….   We do not fight for Win
– Lose.  We fight for Win-Win-Win.  You, me and the community at
large.  If somebody loses, then we all lose.


If
we are to be the best Canadians we can… then we accept that the 1st
generation Chinese Canadians were also “directly affected.”  They
suffered as their parents suffered.  We know that in the JC community,
whole generations tried to ignore and deny the internment process.  We
know that whole generations succumbed to “Stockholm Syndrome” – to
survive, they had to believe that they had done something wrong, and
that the oppressors were their friends, and doing the right thing.


One
certificate – one payment.  It is only fair.  If the government says…
“sorry, the tax we charged you 120 to 80 years ago was wrong” but does
not pay a dollar – is that right?


If the govt uses ill-gotten money because of racism for it's own purposes…  is it right for the govt to profit from racism?

What is the amount of $500 with accrued interest from 1903 to 2006?

If
the Government were to charge the equivalent of the head tax amounts
today… people would be outraged.  The Martin govt removed the $1000
immigrant landing fee, because it was seen as prohibitive for new
immigrants.  What would the equivalant racist head tax be if it were
charged today?


$100,000?   
$200,000?
$350,000?  That's what Charlie Quan said.

The equivalent of a house, or 2 years salary – maybe more.

Would a landing fee of $100,000 keep undesirable aliens from wanting to come to Canada?

But what if they keep coming… even if we raise it to $200,000 – then $300,000.

The
federal govt is getting rich from these new immigrants – but the public
opinion doesn't want them in the country – because they are dirty,
smelly, have strange customs, will never adapt to Canadian ways.


What will we do?
Create an exclusion act.  Ban them completely.

But
what about the ones who are already here, and want to bring over their
wives and children.  The immigrants from America and Europe are
bringing in their wives and children.


No… we don't want them breeding in Canada.  Keep the wives and children out.  They're not really human anyways.

No redress payments for 1st generation descendents.
This is what the Conservative government is saying.

Do you agree?

Gabriel Yiu writes:

If
we take a closer look at the Japanese Canadian settlement, for a father
whose house and factory were confiscated and himself put into
concentration camp during WWII, when he passed away before the
government redress was announced, if his offspring wasn't born prior to
1947, they would received [sic] no compensation.


My
father was born before 1947.  Gim Wong was born before 1947.  Alex
Louie, WW2 Veteran and subject of the NFB film “Unwanted Soldiers” was
born before 1947.  Roy Mah OBC, founder of Chinatown News, was born
before 1947.  But they will not recieve redress payment because they
parents who paid the head tax are predeceased.  Were they still
“directly affected” by the impact and legacy of the head tax and
exclusion act?  Many will argue yes.


Under the JC redress paremeters, they would recieve redress payment, even though their parents are predeceased.

Too
many head tax payers and spouses have died between 1984 and 2006, when
the issue of redress was first announced.  The government needs to
acknowledge and honour those that have died before redress was made. 
Otherwise, the ghosts are not properly buried and will come back to
haunt the government.


It is only fair, just and honourable.

It is merely the end of one head tax era, and the start of another era of exclusion.

Todd Wong
5th generation Canadian
head tax descendant for 4 generations.

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