Did the Chinese Canadian Head Tax/Exclusion issue make a difference?
Chinese media carried the head tax issue almost daily since Nov. 26th, 2005. According to year end top ten lists. It was the number one issue in Chinese Canada, and it was included on top ten issues for Chinese around the world.
As of Canada's election results, Raymond Chan the former Minister of State for Multiculturalism, and who introduced the ACE Agreement-in-Principle, is still trying to do damage control by stating that the Chinese Canadians still voted him in office and that the head tax issue wasn't that big an issue.
But the numbers don't lie. The Tory polls swung upwards immediately after Paul Martin made what appeared to be an insincere personal apology for head tax redress. The Liberals are now out of office. The NDP led the charge for a proper apology and redress, and their numbers doubled in BC, and increased across the country. The Conservatives supported an apology and direct compensation for surviving head tax payers, and their numbers increased. The Bloc supported head tax redress and their numbers increased.
Raymond Chan may have won “first past the post” but Conservative Darrel Reid was only 1, 821 votes behind Chan's 18,107 votes. NDP Neil Smith garnered 5,944 votes and Green Party Richard Matias snagged 1,916, more than enough that could have combined with Reid's to overtake Chan. But to be fair, Chan fought a close battle to retain his seat in Parliament. He had a good campaign that responded quickly to both the Chinese and English language press. He is the only Chinese Canadina MP in Vancouver's Lower Mainland, and you can bet all of the different groups in the community will be asking him to be accountable for issues important to the Chinese Canadian community – no matter how broad the community really is.
The only Liberals in BC who won by large numbers were Ujjal Dosanjh, David Emerson and Stephen Owen, who together spoke out against Chan's line in the sand, and found the 2nd opinion regarding legal liabilitiy of an apology and forced Chan to change his tune.
If the head tax redress wasn't an issue, then why did Paul Martin issue a personal apology and reverse his party's decision to originally not issue an apology in the House of Commons?
The following is an analysis breakdown by by Victor Wong of the Chinese Canadian National Council, to which I have added some extra comments.
were by and large re-elected last night. in BC, Paul Forseth was the
only incumbent MP (Conservative) who was defeated (by NDP's Dawn Black,
herself a former MP); however many prominent Liberal incumbents in
other regions lost:
Anne McLellan, Pierre Pettigrew, Liza Frulla, Jacques Saada, Tony Ianno, Sarmite Bulte, Reg Althingy and others.
Liberal Ministers with Head tax file (indicated retraction over course of campaign):
Paul Martin (Prime Minister): reduced margin
Liza Frulla (Minister of Women's issues): defeated
Raymond Chan (Minister of Multi-culturalism): reduced margin
Sam Bulte (Parliamentary Secretary): defeated
other Liberal Ministers:
Tony Ianno (did not support redress): defeated
Anne McLellan (online comments did not support redress): defeated
Jacques Saada (told Walter last summer, no individual redress): defeated
Reg Althingy (racial gene pool comment last summer): defeated
Hedy Fry (does not support redress and made comment about “those people with their little issues”): reduced margin
Liberal Ministers who were more open to apology (ie. all stated a support for 'inclusive process') ( All these (now former) senior Liberal cabinet Ministers won by wide margins ):
Ujjal Dosanjh (former Health Minister)
David Emerson (former Minister of Industry)
Stephen Owen (former Minister of Western Diversification)