Federal Govt. to name Vancouver building after noted MP who made racist comments
The latest hot issue in the Asian-Canadian community is the Federal government's attempt to name a Vancouver building after a Conservative MP who served during Diefenbaker's government. Howard Green apparently made the following statements:
– Vancouver News-Herald front-page story on July 25, 1939
Green felt there should be 'no halfway measures about the Japanese
question in Canada.” 'The Japs must never be allowed to return to
– The Vancouver Sun of May 17, 1945
Japanese-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian community leaders are speaking
out against the naming of the building. My quick perusal of the
internet reveals the Hon. Howard Green to have held cabinet
positions of Public Works, Defense Building, External Affairs.
John Diefenbaker called him “one of the greatest leaders in the
field of disarmament and world peace”as he was a strong advocate of
world peace and the United Nations.
So what is true? Did
this WW1 veteran feel that Canada's existence was really threatened by
Canadian born citizens of Japanese ancestry? Even though
Japanese-Canadian soldiers were accepted in the Canadian Army?
Did he ever recant his racist declarations? Was he a victim of
the times, when Canada was swept up in fear of attack from Japan that
everybody and their dog wanted BC's Westcoast free from anything
Japanese… even though Japanese-Americans were never interned or sent
away from the Hawaiian Islands.
Other possible names were apparently considered, such as Chief Dan George and Terry Fox.
we condone racist comments as the tenor of the times, or do we move
along and say that while it may have been acceptable back then, it is
no longer acceptable now. After having worked on the Save Kogawa
House committee, and the Head Tax Redress campaign it is amazing to
discover the deep-rooted emotions that many Canadians have had towards
these issues. These emotions are valid, and we cannot move
forward as a country until we stop paying lip service to these
issues. This is the reason why we must ensure that all
communities that have vested interests are not only part of the naming
process, but also part of the decision making bodies – such as the
government. Otherwise we have uninformed people going “What's the
October 24, 2006 – The Honourable Michael M Fortier, Minister of Public
Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), today announced that he
will ask the local volunteer committee in British Columbia to review
its recommendation regarding the naming of the Howard Charles Green
Building in Vancouver.
keeping with the Policy on Naming Government of Canada Structures, a
volunteer committee comprised of representatives of Vancouver
organizations held public consultations and made a recommendation in
2004 for consideration by the Government on the naming of the federal
building at 401 Burrard St . The organizations included the Downtown
Business Association, the Vancouver Business Improvement Association,
the Vancouver Historical Society, and the Vancouver Heritage Commission.
concerns expressed by Canadians of Japanese descent regarding the
naming of the Howard Charles Green Building , I will be asking the
volunteer committee to review its recommendation and indicate whether
it continues to stand by this recommendation,” Minister Fortier said.
Fortier committed his department to taking immediate action to work
with the volunteer committee to review the recommendation and to report
back to him as soon as possible.
“I will await the results of this review before making any decision regarding the naming of this building,” the Minister added.
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For further information, please contact:
Director of Communications
Office of Minister Fortie
Public Works and Government Services Canada
PWGSC news releases are also available on our Internet site at www.pwgsc.gc.ca/text/generic/media-e.html
For Immediate Release
October 25, 2006
CCNC to Ottawa : Name Building After Heroes Who Survived Racism
The Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC) is calling on Ottawa to
reverse a decision to name a federal building after the late Howard
Charles Green, a former Conservative MP who served in Prime Minister
John Diefenbaker's government.
Globe and Mail published a story on October 24, 2006 bringing attention
to some of the racist comments made by Mr. Green, when he was a Member
“A Vancouver News-Herald front-page story on July 25, 1939, had Mr.
demanding 'Orientals be excluded from Canada .' The Vancouver Sun of
May 17, 1945, states: “Mr. Green felt there should be 'no halfway
measures about the Japanese question in Canada .
” 'The Japs must never be allowed to return to British Columbia ,' he said.””
are dismayed to learn that the Conservative Government chose last month
to name a building after someone who advocated so forcefully for
exclusion of Asians in general and internment and repatriation of
Japanese Canadians in particular,” Colleen Hua, CCNC National President
said today. “The irony is that we just completed a ceremony to restore
dignity to our few living Head Tax payers including 99 year-old Charlie
Quan and WWII veteran Gim Wong who both who lived through the Chinese
Exclusion Act era.”
“There are no half-way measures about fighting racism in Canada”
question is how members of the Japanese Canadian community will feel
walking into a building named after someone described as ‘among the
most vocal and unregenerate of the racist politicians,’” Sid Tan, CCNC
National Director added. “Where are the lessons of redress here? This
building should be named after Suzuki, Kogawa, Miki, Shoyama and the
true heroes who survived this vicious racism.”
Canadian National Council (CCNC) continues to work with other
redress-seeking groups including the Ontario Coalition of Chinese Head
Tax Payers and Families (Ontario Coalition) and Head Tax Families of
Canada Society (formerly the B.C. Coalition of Head Tax Payers, Spouses
and Descendants) in the campaign for inclusive redress of the Chinese
Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act.
For more information, please contact:
Sid Tan, CCNC National Director, (604) 783-1853 ( Vancouver )
Victor Wong, CCNC Executive Director, (416) 977-9871 ( Toronto )