Province editorial on Liberal's attempt at Head Tax redress, calls on PM Martin to admit his mistakes
Here is an editorial in today's Province newspaper. I have made my comments in parenthesis and a comment following the article.
* * * * The Province
Published: Wednesday, December 28, 2005
It is becoming increasingly clear that a federal government plan
designed to atone for almost a century of injustice inflicted on the
Chinese-Canadian community is not merely insufficient, but risks adding
insult to injury.
When community groups from across the country were flown to Vancouver
Nov. 24 to hear details of the plan from multiculturalism minister
Raymond Chan, their expectations were high. (especially when $100,000 came from Chan's ministry of Multiculturalism)
For more than 20 years, prominent community leaders have campaigned for
an apology and compensation for victims of the notorious head tax,
imposed on all Chinese immigrants to Canada from 1885 to 1923.
But the agreement in principle with four community groups that Chan
announced offered only funds for educational projects and memorial
plaques. (No apology, and no individual tax refund for surviving payers or spouses)
Leading intellectuals among the Chinese community in Vancouver say
negotiations that produced the deal were held with groups “hand-picked”
by Ottawa and were not representative of the community at large. (The
Chinese Canadian National Council which has registered up to 5,000 head
tax payers and descendants are not included in negotiations because
they did not agree to the Liberal program's preconditions of No
Apology, and No individual compensation.)
They say the realization that an apology would not be part of the deal
came as a major shock.
At a meeting this week, they estimated that as many as 90 per cent of
Chinese-Canadians now want the government to rescind the agreement.
Most adamant in its opposition is the Chinese Canadian National
Council, whose founding president, Joseph Wong of Toronto, has warned that the
issue could tilt the balance against the Liberals in ridings where
there is a substantial Chinese-Canadian vote.
Since the early 1980s, the CCNC has been compiling a register of those
who paid the head tax, which rose over the years from $50 to a
staggering $500. The list, which includes descendants of victims,
contains some 4,000 names.
Community leaders say the demand for compensation is more symbolic than
it is about the money.
“We want honorable redress for our Chinese pioneers,” says Thekla Lit,
a Vancouver social worker and prominent activist.
The Liberal government's hasty attempt to put right a historic wrong on
the eve of an election smacks of opportunism.
The head-tax scandal already grubbies the pages of Canada's history
books and any redress should not be tarnished by an association with
cheap political advantage.
Prime Minister Paul Martin should admit his mistake, cancel the
agreement and promise to think again. After Jan. 23.
– – –
What do you think? Leave a brief comment, name and town at:
604-605-2029, fax: 604-605-2099 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
C The Vancouver Province 2005
What is wrong with this picture about redress and the Liberal Party?
Three opposition parties, NDP, Bloc Quebecois, Conservatives +
Green Party all say that apology, individual compensation and inclusion
of head tax payers and descendants is important.
Why doesn't Minister of State (Multiculturalism) Raymond Chan
include the 4000 + head tax payers and descendants registered by the
Chinese Canadian National Council? Doesn't he feel that they should be
part of the process that he wants to address?
Chan and the National Congress of Chinese Canadians do not have
written aggreement of the supposed list of 300+ community organizations
which is actually dropping in numbers as more and more organizations
say they did not give permission to use their names. It is
difficult to find a listed organization that has anything to do
with Chinese Canadian historical or human rights issues – except the
CCNC that was excluded from the negotiation process but was
mistakenly included on the original list, or the Chinese Canadian
Military Museum that stands to gain funds for a specially proposed
Why should the ACE program give $2.5 Million to the NCCC whose
executive director Ping Tan has stated that a signifcant amount of
money will be used to create the Chinese Canadian Community Foundation
to administer proposals to the ACE program? Wasn't the Canadian Race
Relations Foundation set up as part of the 1988 Japanese Canadian
redress settlement to do exactly this? Administer programs to foster
multiculturalism and better race relations for ALL Canadians? Why
re-invent the wheel, unless there are other unspoken interests at
An “apology” was made by Brian Mulroney to the Japanese Canadians
in the House of Commons as part of the redress package that included
individual compensation. To date, no Canadian has ever sued the
government over this issue.
Canadians want resolution, strong and true – not a lipservice to
wrong doing, that gives money to a questionable organization with no
track record of Chinese Canadian history or human rights such as the
National Congress of Chinese Canadians.
Canada in 2005 is inclusive – Our Chinese Community includes 6th and
7th generations who also include Scottish, French, English, African,
South Asian and First Nations bloodlines., Our Canada includes
immigrants of Chinese descent not only China, but Taiwan, the
Carribean, England, South Africa, Maylaysia, Singapore and Brazil.
Canadians want recognition for the head tax pioneers and
descendants who have fought for Canada in WW2 and other wars, fought
for the 1947 vote for all Chinese in Canada, for true patriot love and
who stand on guard for thee.
– Todd Wong