GLOBE & MAIL: Chinese Canadians flex muscles at the polls – Gary Mason gets it!

Chinese Canadians flex muscles at the polls

It is a good perspective on the issues.  The Chinese Canadian community is maturing… people see past being told “Just vote Liberal – they helped you get in the country.” 

They see past Raymond Chan saying “Chinese don't understand gay marriage – they aren't Canadianized enough.” 

But I think it is deeper.  The pioneer descendants don't like immigrant
Chan telling them that 62 years of legislated racism isn't worth an
apology or symbolic compensatin.  The new immigrants are highly
educated, and don't like Chan assuming he knows more than they do.

Chinese Canadians flex muscles at the polls

— Not that long ago, they would have meekly accepted the federal
government's long-held position to neither compensate nor apologize for
the racist head tax once imposed on Chinese immigrants. But that has

Canada's ethnic Chinese are meek no longer.

“I think the head-tax issue is a good example of the Canadianization
of the Chinese community,” says Winnie Ho, news director of Fairchild
Television. “And I think that has set up a whole new dynamic in terms
of dealing with the Chinese community, a dynamic that we're really
seeing for the first time in this federal election.”

The ethnic Chinese vote is coveted by politicians right across the
country. But no more so than in Greater Vancouver, where in some
communities Chinese Canadians comprise up to 40 per cent of the

Chinese organizations are beginning to understand the power they
have. And the broad rights that exist in Canada to exercise their
influence and stick up for what they believe is right.

“A lot of Canada's so-called new Chinese immigrants have now been
here 10, 20 years,” says Ms. Ho, one of the most influential figures in
the ethnic Chinese community. “They now understand how the game is
played. They now understand they don't have to accept whatever they are
told. That is what happened with the head-tax issue and I think there
is a lesson in that for all politicians.”

Initially, the federal government had an agreement with a number of
Chinese-Canadian organizations to provide $2.5-million for programs
acknowledging the racism of the past. But the agreement included no
apology and no compensation for any of the few surviving immigrants who
paid the head tax, nor for any of their families.

The Chinese Canadian National Council, however, said that wasn't
good enough. It questioned how the money would be spent. It questioned
why any agreement couldn't come with a formal government apology, which
was important to many Chinese Canadians.

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