Will Harper keep his pledge for Head Tax Redress? Chinese Canadian groups are asking him!

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Will Harper keep his pledge for Head Tax Redress?  Chinese Canadian groups are asking him!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 
VANCOUVER/TORONTO/MONTREAL, January 24, 2006:
Chinese Canadian groups across Canada are asking Prime Minister Elect
Stephen Harper to immediately make good on his pledge to apologize for
62 years of legislated racism under the Head Tax and Exclusion Acts by
making a public statement on behalf of the government of Canada on or
before Chinese Lunar New Year on January 29, 2006. This is to be
followed by a Parliamentary Resolution once the House of Commons is
recalled.
 
“The
country turns to a new chapter in our political life just before the
Chinese New Year. It would be a most auspicious time for the Government
of Canada to start the process of reconciliation with Chinese Canadians
and start the New Year in the spirit of unity and mutual respect.” said
Joseph Wong, founder of the Chinese Canadian National Council.
 
In
response to the demands made by the Ontario Coalition of Chinese Head
Tax Payers and Families (Ontario Coalition), along with the B.C.
Coalition of Head Tax Payers, Spouses and Descendents (B.C. Coalition),
Chinese Canadian Redress Alliance and
the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC), the Conservative Party,
the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois committed in writing to support the
Parliamentary Resolution to apologize, direct redress for the 250
surviving head tax payers and spouses, rescinding of the $2.5 million
deal under the ACE program and open, transparent and inclusive
consultations and negotiations with head tax families and the broader
Chinese Canadian community as to the nature and extent of redress.
 
“We
are calling on the new Harper Government to honour its election pledge
and the opposition parties to join in ensuring that immediate action is
taken before it is too late for the surviving head tax payers and
spouses.” said Avvy Go, member of Canadians for Redress and counsel for
the Ontario Coalition. “All the excuses about legal liability given by
the Liberal government have been put to rest, first by the courts, and
now by the voters.”
 
All
federal political parties were pushed to take a stand on this important
issue with more than 1 million Chinese Canadians – who account for 3.5%
of the total population and for as much as 40% of constituents in
several key ridings, particularly in
British Columbia and Ontario. According to Statistics Canada, 40% of Chinese Canadians live in the Toronto area, while 33% live in the Vancouver area.
 
“It
was clear that head tax redress quickly became an election issue which
politicians ignored at their peril.” said Susan Eng, co-chair of the
Ontario Coalition. “Head tax redress galvanized Chinese Canadian
voters, and even before Election Day, they saw evidence of their
political clout with the pledges from the three major opposition
parties. Even Paul Martin eventually pledged to at least apologize. Now
it’s up to the Harper Government to show that election pledges are
meant to be kept.”
 
Canada's
“National Dream” was realized when the Last Spike was driven to
complete the transcontinental railway in 1885. Instead of gratitude for
the Chinese railway workers – thousands of whom gave their lives to the
building of this country – the government imposed a head tax on all new
Chinese immigrants, collecting more than $23 million by 1923. That
year, the government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act to stop all
Chinese immigration to
Canada. The racist legislation was not repealed until 1947.
 
– 30 –
For more information, please contact:
 
Ontario Coalition of Head Tax Payers and Families
[Toronto]
Susan Eng, co-chair, (416) 960-0312
Avvy Go, legal counsel, (647) 271-9357
           
B.C. Coalition of Chinese
Head Tax Payers, Their Spouses and Descendants
[Vancouver]
Bill Chu, spokesperson (604) 261-6526
 
Chinese Canadians Redress Alliance [Montreal]
William Dere [514] 488-0804
Walter Tom [514] 341-3929 
 
Chinese Canadian National Council
Founder Dr. Joseph Wong [416] 591-6837
               Colleen Hua, President [647] 299-1775

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