Chinese to get redress?
Apology, compensation could be in throne speech
March 25, 2006
By IAN ROBERTSON, TORONTO SUN
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's vow to officially apologize for a "head
tax" and restrictions on former Chinese immigrants took a giant step forward
Applause and smiles were exchanged after Heritage Minister Beverley Oda
and parliamentary secretary Jason Kenney met privately with delegates from
across Canada at George Brown House.
Oda said she and Kenney will report "positive progress" to Harper in
negotiating the apology's wording and undisclosed financial compensation to
"We will fulfill the commitments our government made," she said.
"The Liberals talked for 13 years and did nothing," Kenney said. "We are
working to redress this issue." Delegates are seeking a July 1 apology for
the head tax, which raked in $23 million from 1885 to 1923, to coincide with
the start date of the Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese newcomers from 1923
Susan Eng, co-chairman of the Ontario Coalition of Head Tax Payers and
Families, said compensation for 200 survivors in their 90s and even
100s should come soon. Nine of the seniors have died since the fall.
"We're extremely encouraged," she said. "We hope we have an announcement
in the throne speech (April 3)."
Tories, the NDP and Bloc Quebecois have supported the apology and, Eng
said "we hope the Liberals will join."
Oda and Kenney promised to continue consulting the Chinese community
aboutdetails and redress amounts. No figures were quoted yesterday, but Dr.
Joseph Wong said anything paid to the elders must be "significant and
meaningful ... a dignified amount."