HEAD TAX redress: Sunday meeting + Vancouver Sun letter by Brad Lee
Canadian Brad Lee of Toronto. Brad is reflecting the simmering
anger by many Chinese Canadians that the Liberal government is giving
money “in the name of head tax redress” to groups NOT even actually
connected to actual head tax payers and their descendants.
Multicultural minister Raymond Chan is an immigrant Chinese and he is
giving money to other immigrant Chinese groups and courting Chinese
media when all the head tax payer descendants are now multigenerational
Canadians and are reached through Mainstream media.
Here's what we can do about it.
1 – write and phone your MP – tell them you are not happy with their
idea of “redress”. Tell them you will not vote Liberal. Click on www.headtaxredress.org
2 – Come to a B. C. Coalition of Head Tax Payers, Spouses
and Descendants meeting Sunday November 20, 2005 to update our seniors
on the redress campaign and consult with the group. At 1:30pm at Quan Lung Sai
Tong at 164 E. Hastings Street west of Carnegie Centre at Main Street.
Here's the letter by Brad Lee.
Vancouver Sun; Date:2005 Nov 19; Section:Observer; Page Number: C7
Liberals bungle a great opportunity to do the right thing
Let this go down in history: Paul Martin’s Liberals had an opportunity
to correct past injustices involving decades of legislated racism
against the Chinese in this country.
Instead, they are bungling it.
In their headlong rush to purchase goodwill among voters ahead of an
election, through multimillion-dollar deals in principle with the
Ukrainians, the Italians and other groups close to political noliability
settlements, the Liberals have cast aside the language and intent of
true reconciliation and redress.
Witness Bill C-333, the so-called “Immigrants of Chinese Origin
Exclusionary Measures Recognition Act,” now wending its way toward third
reading in Parliament, after breezing through final amendments at the
Liberal-dominated standing committee on heritage.
In just two meetings of the committee, a strange cabal of Liberals and
Tories managed to do away with wording acknowledging the injustices of
the head tax on Chinese immigrants, from 1885 to 1923, and the Chinese
Exclusion Act (1923-1947.)
Historians who review the implications of Bill C-333 on social justice
will not see words like “unjust,” “discrimination,” “racism,” nor any of
their derivatives. Equally, they will see no evidence of
“reconciliation,” “redress,” “reparations” or “compensation.”
Further investigation will show missteps by Martin’s Liberals in
drafting amendments to the private member’s bill simply to avoid any
hint of government liability. The backward reasoning for watering down
the text and intent of the bill is that the head tax and Exclusion Act
were legal at the time so the government bears no actual responsibility
for what happened.
(Never mind that the $500 my grandfather paid to enter Canada, along
with the varying amounts from more than
82,000 other Chinese, had generated $23 million by 1923 for government
coffers. In contrast, non-Chinese immigrants were offered a
quarter-section of land to settle here.)
“In each case the attorney-general of Canada, on behalf of the
government of Canada, disagreed with the arguments made on the basis
that what was done during the two wars, and either under the War
Measures Act in the case of the Germans and Italians, and under a
variety of immigration acts in the case of the Chinese, that all those
measures were perfectly legal,” according to Canadian Heritage legal
counsel Michel Francoeur.
Would Canadian justices trying the cases of genocide in war-torn
countries, or even historians looking back at the roots of the
Holocaust, accept this reasoning?
Adding insult to century-old injury, the Liberals have also insisted on
naming a single group, the National Congress of Chinese Canadians formed
in 1991 and hardly representative of the broader community, as the
government’s sole partner on projects to recognize past “exclusionary
All this because the NCCC’s leaders have agreed to the Liberals’
position of “no apology, no compensation.” As well, due diligence on
this group has been set aside in favour of political expediency.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Canadian National Council, which has
registered more than
4,000 head-tax payers and their families since 1984, has been refused a
seat at the reconciliation table.
Our historians may note misgivings about Bill C-333 voiced by MP Libby
Davies (NDP—Vancouver East) and echoed by Bloc Quebecois MPs Maka Kotto
(Saint-Lambert) and Meili Faille (Vaudreuil-Soulanges.)
“As far as saying we can only name one organization because they’re the
only ones who are willing to work with the government under the terms
set by the government, I mean what is that about?” Davies asked.
“Is that how we do our business? That only if you
agree beforehand that these are the terms you get to participate in the
process. That’s not my understanding of parliamentary democracy.”
But with Martin’s Liberals it has always been about the money.
For weeks, officials at Canadian Heritage have been negotiating a
$12.5-million payment to the NCCC in the matter of recognizing the
imposition of exclusionary measures on Chinese Canadians.
According to Chinese media, the plan is for the prime minister to travel
to Vancouver, after the first ministers’ meeting in Kelowna next week to
announce the deal at the NCCC’s national conference.
Similar to a redress package unveiled last weekend for redress of the
Italian Canadians over internment during the Second World War, there
will be much handshaking and many smiles for the cameras. Martin might
even repeat his comment that, “You know as well as I do it’s not enough
to remember the past — you have to learn from it.”
Problem is, the prime minister and his party are still foggy on the
Brad Lee is Chinese-Canadian. His
family has been in
Canada for five generations. He lives in Toronto.
MANEN/VANCOUVER SUN FILES Vancouver’s Charlie Quan displays, nearly 80
years later, the admission papers he paid $500 for in 1923.