Head Tax Redress: Gabriel Yiu and Raymond Chan speak on CBC Radio Early Edition

Head Tax Redress: Gabriel Yiu and Raymond Chan speak on CBC Radio Early Edition

Gabriel Yiu and Minister of State (Multiculturalism) Raymond Chan were
both interviewed on CBC Radio Early Edition this morning by host Rick Cluff.  They
spoke about the current head tax issues.  My comments are in

You can hear the interview on-line

Gabriel Yiu said the following:

– Chinese Canadian community response
so far is one-sided. On Sat, Fairchild Radio & Channel M's
open-line shows (3 hours), not a single caller supported Liberal's
handling of the matter. 

(The issue has actually been very hot in the Chinese media for the past
2 weeks – Mainstream media has been slow to explore in-depth issues or
to give more than a wire story except CBC Radio.)

– On Sunday,  Sing Tao (page A2),
one of its headlines said “Martin gives political promise, will
apologize to Chinese if elected”. 

(This headline is translated
from the Chinese – and was attributed to NCCC chair Ping Tan, who said
this to the NCCC conference.  The Liberal position is that an
acknowledgment is as close to an apology as Chinese Canadians will
get.  Martin is clearly politicizing the issue.  It has
already been debated in standing committees at parliament.  Only
the NDP and Bloc Quebecois debated against the language that the
Liberals and Conservatives are trying to ram through as Bill C-333 put
forward by Conservative MPs Inky Mark and Bev Oda.  NDP MP
Margaret Mitchell
first tried to resolve head tax issues in the 1980’s.)

– CCNC has been working on the Headtax
Redress for over 20 years and it represents over 4000 Headtax payers
and they've been shut out of the government settlement.

(Chinese Canadian National Council
formed after the 1979 W5 issue when it was recognized that a national
voice for Chinese Canadians was needed. CCNC was also the organization
that started registering headtax payers and descendants since
1984.  The NCCC has not claimed that they have registered any head
tax payers.)

Raymond Chan basically attacked Gabriel Yiu next stating:

– Gabriel Yiu is not only a commentator, he is a NDP

(FACT: Gabriel Yiu has been a Chinese
media commentor for many years and has also contributed to mainstream
media such as the Vancouver Sun, CBC Radio, Ming Pao and many others. Yiu is NOT a candidate in the upcoming
federal election, but did run in the provincial election as an NDP
candidate – same colour as Ujal Dosanjh before he joined the federal
Liberals to become a Senior Cabinet minister compared to Chan’s junior

– Gabriel Yiu is misleading the community
(How is presenting the views of the
community misleading?  Chan must be desperate to resort to
personal attacks rather than to feature the facts).

– Chan denied any community opposition and said the settlement is well represented by a great many Chinese organizations

was one of 75 people protesting on Saturday outside on the NCCC
conference at the Chinese Cultural Centre and at SUCCESS when Prime
Minister Paul Martin arrived.  We chanted, and we held up placards and
were interviewed and filmed by Vancouver Sun, CKNW 98, Global News, CBC
TV News, Ming Pao, Epoch Times, Sing Tao.

Guess Chan wasn’t listening when many of the organizations listed on
the Liberal press release complained that they did not give NCCC
permission to use their names, or wasn’t aware that NCCC national chair
Ping Tan severely critized NCCC director Tsai Fung Chan Lee for openly
criticizing NCCC's approach, and urged its executive chairman Ping Tan
and the federal government to reconsider their approach to the Head Tax

Raymond Chan is WRONG on many facts!
believe that Raymond Chan is seriously misleading the public. He listed
a number of organizations such as the Chinese Cultural Centres of
Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, and SUCCESS – an immigrant services
organization.  The directors of these groups are primarily 
who arrived in Canada since 1967, not actual head tax payer
descendants.  These groups are interested in the cash grab that is
available to them – not for rightful redress to head tax payers. 
lists a number of projects for these organizations such as “museum
projects, youth education, restore historical building to remember
railroad workers, Toronto Cultural Association wants to build momentuum
for their centre.”  All these projects should be eligible for
already existing programs in Canadian Heritage or Multiculturalism.

The $23 million originally
collected from original head tax payers
was further worked off by themselves and their descendants who
basically gave up years of their lives to pay for
initial loans to pay for the tax.  They lived separated from
families over generations. The
total impact from 1885 to 1947, then further until 1967 when
restrictive immigration laws were relaxed, may never be totally known.

Chan also said the Chinese Canadian veterans are almost all head tax payers.
most were born in Canada, and many were head tax descendants, and guess
what? They weren't even allowed to fight for their country until
England asked Canada for Chinese speaking soldiers, and even then
Chinese Canadians still couldn't vote in Canada.  The veterans have
always asked for only an apology – not for compensation.  Jan Wong of
the Globe & Mail reported on Saturday that the veterans were
pulling out because no apology is being given.

Chan says that
the government cannot look at ethnic redress issues in isolation – “We
have to worry about, we have to consider all the other claims by other
ethnic groups that have claims to the government…”
the Chinese head tax is a unique situation, because only ethnic Chinese
were taxed from $50 to $500 from 1885 to 1923 when Chinese immigration
was banned until 1947, and then very limited until 1967.  No other
ethnic group was taxed for immigration nor excluded, at consideral cost
to community and families.

Chan says that a “responsible” government cannot give away individual compensation for a past wrong such as head tax.  WRONG!
In 1988 the Progressive Conservative federal government under Prime Minister Brian
Mulroney signed a Redress package with Japanese Canadians that included
$21,000 individual compensation.  The CCNC and the BC Coalition of Head
Tax Payers are simply asking for a Tax refund of what the government
acknowledges was wrong.  The United Nations in 2004 asked Canada to
and make individual reparations, which New Zealand did.

Chan says the Chinese Community has never come together like this

In 1979, Chinese ad-hoc committees sprouted up across Canada to protest
CTV's W-5 program which aired a misleading story called “Campus
Giveaway.” It was the CCNC that grew out of this unified movement.

Unfortunately Gabriel Yiu did not get a chance to dispute Raymond
Chan's statements.  Chan repeatedly said that Gabriel Yiu was
“lying” and “misleading the public” when it was clearly  Raymond
Chan who is out of touch with the community and needs to take Chinese
Canadian history lessons.  I recommend Paul Yee's “Struggle and Hope:
The Story of Chinese Canadians.” It's a good easy read written for
young adults.

You can find my name listed on the bottom of page 85 just
above Raymond Chan's in the Chronology: The Chinese in Canada. 
Raymond is listed for being an MP appointed to Secretary of State for
Asia Pacific Affairs whereas I am listed for being awarded the Simon
Fraser University Terry Fox Gold Medal for my personal battle with
cancer and for efforts to create racial harmony.

Please ask CBC Radio to present more in depth stories on Head Tax
Issues where the interviews can clarify their positions and also
include the actual descendants of head tax payers – not just the more
recent immigrants of the “Chinese community”. 

The CBC Radio Early Edition Talk Back phone number is 604-662-6690.

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