CBC Radio Early Edition interview and my response to the throne speech about upcoming Chinese head tax apology
was just interviewed on CBC Radio Early Edition program by Rick Cluff,
asking my thoughts about the mention of an apology for Chinese Head Tax
in the throne speech.
It's impossible to convey my feelings about 62 years of legislated
racism and the potential for nation building by redress in 4 minutes.
Yesterday, I was very happy to recieve an e-mail from Toronto stating that a forthcoming apology for the
Chinese Head Tax was included in the Throne Speech. Very happy
because I had spent so many hours in working on the Vancouver campaign
for redress. I was there on November 26th, when we protested the
ACE program announcement when then Prime Minister Paul Martin came to
Vancouver to announce a $2.5 million program for “Acknowledgement,
Commemoration and Education” – not apology or compensation.
It was in 2004 when
Doudou Diene, the UN special rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination,
xenophobia and related intolerance, submitted a UN draft report recommending Canada consider paying reparations
for the head tax
once levied against Chinese immigrants. New Zealand had made and
apology and redress reparations – but Canada still said “No!” And
up until last December, Paul Martin and the Liberal government was
still saying “No apology!”, until they figured out that Chinese head
tax redress was the sleeper issue of the election campaign, and the
other parties – NDP, Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois, had agreed to an
apology and compensation for urviving Head Tax payers and spouses.
It's all about fairness, and that Canada should not profit from
racism. This is not the Canada that promotes multiculturalism,
and that we are a leader in racial tolerance. This is about a
black spot in our history.
Yes… I was very happy that redress is going to happen.
Yes… I am happy that my Uncle Dan, a WW2 veteran who has every
year written the government for an apology, is finally going to hear an
But as I told Rick Cluff, I think Canadians still misunderstand the
issue. Asian Canadians have been subject to so much systemic
racism up until 1967, that it has been hard to convey the sense of
“learned helplessness” against a system that constantly treats you as a
I am afraid that many Canadians will see this as a money issue, and
paying for past wrongs should be over and done with. But I feel
very strongly that Canada needs to move forward on these issues, or
else it constantly stays with us.
It's about fairness and justice and equality. Finally, we are being fully embraced, and redress is being made.