Mr. Sid Tan goes to Ottawa to speak on Chinese Head Tax- Bill C-333, Oct 25

Mr. Sid Tan goes to Ottawa to speak on Chinese Head Tax – Bill C-333

Sid Chow Tan: Text of oral presentation on Bill C-333 (inappropriately named
Chinese Canadian Recognition and Redress Act) to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Ottawa, Ontario, October 25, 2005.





The Association
of Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity Society, acronym
ACCESS, acknowledges the Anishinabe Ottawa First Nation and their
traditional territory where we hold this meeting.




Mister/Madame Chairperson and members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.



ACCESS is a
not-for-profit human rights and social justice society and community
television corporation.  We are the successor group to the
Vancouver Association of Chinese Canadians, organised to combat racism
and discrimination, to advance the rights of citizens and migrants in
Canada and to redress the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion
Acts.   




We thank the
Standing Committee for this opportunity to comment on Private Member’s
Bill C-333, the poorly-named named Chinese Canadian Recognition and
Redress Act. 


Poorly-named
because it is not an acceptable redress for many Lo Wah Kiu (old
overseas Chinese) head taxpayers, spouses and descendants.




However, Bill
C-333 maybe be a beginning to just and honourable redress. It should
either be renamed or provide direct individual recognition and
restitution, where possible, to surviving head taxpayers, spouses and
their estates.  




All Canadians
can be inspired by the heroic Lo Wah Kiu struggle for citizenship
rights while oppressed for 62 years by racist legislation.  For
the parliamentary record, I will read a statement by 98-year old head
taxpayer Quan Song Now, also known as Charlie Quan.  To my
knowledge, he is one of four surviving head taxpayers and I have worked
on this redress for twenty years. 




Charlie Quan’s
handwritten statement and voice recording was made shortly after my
confirmed attendance at this hearing.  He asked me to read his
statement to you.  He is a true champion and one of the mightiest
Lo Wah Kiu. 
His statement is addressed to Prime Minister Paul Martin, to whom I have mailed a copy. 



Greetings Prime Minister Paul Martin.



My name is Quan
Song Now. I came to Canada in 1923. At that time, I paid the $500 head
tax. This $500 head tax is unjust. As it was not applied to people from
other parts of the world, it is discriminatory. I hope the government
will refund the head tax in a fair way to all head taxpayers or their
families. This is my sincere quest. I hope you accept my proposal.




Quan Song Now aka Charlie Quan

October 20, 2005, Vancouver, BC



For the
parliamentary record, I want to acknowledge 83-year old Gim Wong for
his recent cross-Canada motorcycle Ride for Redress he began in
Victoria, BC on June 3, 2005.  A pensioner, a Royal Canadian Air
Force World War Two veteran and resident of Burnaby, BC, he and his son
Jeffrey arrived in Ottawa on July 1, 2005, Canada Day.  Gim and
Jeffrey Wong are descendants of mighty Lo Wah Kiu.  Gim Wong’s
father and mother paid the head tax.  He made his ride to call
attention to what any Canadian would want – an apology and refund of an
unjust tax at current fair value.




Fifteen years
ago I told Chow Wong Nooy, my Grandmother on my Father’s side, about my
involvement in the Chinese redress campaign.  Her initial reaction
was to tell me not to oppose the government.  She feared
government authorities would come to our home, tie me up, take me away
and throw me in the river. 


 

I bring this up
because her fear of the Canadian government and its laws had harmed our
family.  The Chinese exclusion law separated her from Chow Gim
(Norman) Tan, her husband and my Grandfather who paid the head tax.
They were separated for over a quarter century.  Wong Mun Sang, my
Grandfather on my Mother’s side, also paid the head tax and experienced
the same separation.  The cry for justice spans many generations
of Lo Wah Kiu.       



We humans are a
species of ideas and language.  We will all be judged by our
families, our neighbours and history.  I say Bill C-333, in it
present form as named, is a perversion of language and travesty of
justice.  Without any attempt at direct individual recognition and
restitution, this so-called redress legislation is just another
humiliation for surviving head taxpayers such as 98-year old Charlie
Quan of Vancouver and 93-year old James Wing of Montreal. 




As a Canadian
who wishes to contribute to a country where freedom of speech and ideas
are Charter rights, I fear this legislation will be referred to as the
Chinese Canadian Humiliation Act.  For the Lo Wah Kiu, July 1,
1923, then Dominion Day and now Canada Day, was referred to as
Humiliation Day because that was the day Chinese exclusion became
law.       




ACCESS is very
concerned Bill C-333 specifies the Canadian government negotiates the
so-called agreement for redress with the National Congress of Chinese
Canadians.  Chinese head tax and exclusion redress is an issue of
human rights and the NCCC formed to be an apologist for the Republic of
China’s appalling human rights record, particularly the Tiananmen
massacre of June 4, 1989. 




We stand before
history.  In 1992, the Honourable Raymond Chan, current Minister
of Multiculturalism and then a human rights activist, often ridiculed
the leadership and actions of the NCCC.  I ask the members of the
Standing Committee to examine the suitability of the National Congress
of Chinese Canadians to negotiate a human rights agreement
with.  


       

A just and
honourable redress will lose much of its meaning if there are no
surviving head taxpayers to accept it.  Redress will lose all of
its meaning if surviving head taxpayers, spouses and second generation
descendants do not receive direct individual recognition and
restitution.  Individuals and families paid the tax and suffered
the hardships of separation.  Where possible, they must be the
focus of any just and honourable redress.


                

I thank those
who encouraged me to be at this hearing, particularly Victor Wong of
the Chinese Canadian National Council and the members of its National
Redress Committee.  I also thank Avvy Go of the Metro Toronto
Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic for her counsel.  ACCESS
supports the amendments to Bill C-333 as proposed by the Metro Toronto
Chinese and South Asian Legal Clinic. 




ACCESS and the
BC Coalition of Head Taxpayers, Spouses and Descendants support the
Position Statement of the Ontario Coalition of Head Tax Payers and
Families.  They
demand:          




1)  An
apology from the Canadian Government for the injustice perpetrated on
Chinese Canadians under the Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act




2)  Direct
redress for the Head Tax payers, widows and their families to be
negotiated between the Canadian Government and those directly affected
by these racist laws; and




3) 
Community redress in the form of education funds and other social
programs to be developed in consultation with the broader Chinese
Canadian community.






Redress now.  It’s only fair.



Thank you.



n.



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