Head Tax Survivor compensation story wrong…
The story that was reported Monday in The National Post, Vancouver Sun,
and CanWest news services, about Chinese Canadian Head Tax survivors
and spouses being assured an individual compensation payment of $15,000
to $30,000 is WRONG.
Both the National Post, the Chinese Canadian National Council, went
into “damage control” along with the Federal Government.
Parliamentary Secretary Jason Kenney denied the news report and that it
was premature to announce or recommend anything without consulting the
members of the Chinese Canadian communities across Canada. There
will be meetings set up in major centres across Canada soon, as a
government announcement on Head Tax and Exclusion Act redress will be
expected before or on July 1st, 2007.
When the story broke many members of the Chinese Canadian National
Council and the different coaltion groups across Canada were surprised,
and wondered if the announcement of $15,000 to $30,000 was a pre-mature
leak, or a misquote. The correct answer is misquote.
Dr. Joseph Wong received many phone calls on Monday, and worked hard to
clarify his statements. Sid Tan, president of ACCESS, gave an
interview on MultiVan, in Vancouver, to help clarify the
statements. Victor Wong, executive director of the Chinese
Canadian National Council, similarly did a radio interview on the Dave
Rutherford Show in Alberta. Courtesy of Kenda Gee's website, Here
is an mp3 of the interview:
Below is a translated version of the SingTao Daily story where Dr.
Joseph Wong clarifies and explains the misquote. He says that
Chinese Community groups are proposing a two stage framework.
Apology first, before July 1st, followed by extensive consultations to
determine the amounts for individual compensation, and whether that
will be extended to descendants of head tax payers. So far, the
government has promised an apology, and are favorable to individual
compensation to surviving head tax payers and spouses.
Also included below, is the original Vancouver Sun/CanWest story which
stated that individual compensation would be $15,000 to $30,000.
These figures are based on discussions on what the government might
accept. in 1988, Japanese Canadians who were interned were
eligible to recieve $21,000. In addition, funding was also set up
to develop community projects such as the Japanese Canadian National
Museum. In 1885, a $50 head tax was charged on each person of
Chinese ancestry entering Canada. It rose to $100, then to $500,
before the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act was legislated, effectively
banning people of Chinese ancestry immigrating to Canada until
1947. From 1947 to 1967, Chinese immigration was serverely
limited mainly to family sponsorships. This was done to limit and
discourage the numbers of Chinese immigrants to Canada.
Newspaper: SingTao Daily
head of the CCNC Dr. Joseph Wong denies a press report yesterday that
the govt has already given him the assurance that head tax payers will
get individual compensation. Jason Kenney also indicates to SingTao
Daily that those related media reports will not affect the attitude of
the govt in solving the head tax matter.
reports by both the Vancovuer Sun and the National Post, Dr. Wong was
quoted as saying : “The Fed. Govt has accepted their recommendation to
give individual compensation to head tax payers. The compensation
amount will be between 15 thousand to 30 thousand which will be paid to
those who paid the tax themselves or their spouse.” But Joseph Wong
gave clarification to SingTao yesterday that the related coverage
misquoted what he said. “Of course that’s wrong, I never said that
from beginning to end.”
said what he had said at the time was: “The government appear to accept
our recommendation, re how to resolve the head tax matter in two
phases, which is not to say there has been an acceptance of the
compensation amount. They got it wrong.”
and in the second stage to conduct extensive consultations, including
on the issue whether to give compensation to the descendants of head
also said he was interviewed by a National Post reporter. When asked
about the amount of compensation asked for, Wong based the fact that
the govt., in past similar resolution package had used a figure between
15000 to 30000 before, they felt that the Chinese Community might
accept this as compensation figure: “15000 to 30000 dollars (the govt)
for sure will accept…..but that doesn’t mean (the govt) has accepted
the suggestion. That’s not what I said.”
Kenney also denied this news information, he also indicates he feels
unhappy about the report : “No news report will change our method of
addressing the head tax matter, absolutely not.
also said, the govt. at the present time has not made any decision on
the head tax matter, no recommendation has been made to the cabinet
either: “We will shortly announce the consultation and input’s second
phase, hoping we can include consultation meetings. It would be wrong
for the govt to make decision before obtaining the views of the Chinese
Monday April 10 2006
Head-tax survivors will get compensated
B.C. spokesman for Chinese-Canadians who paid discriminatory tax
Jordana Huber and Jonathan Fowlie
CanWest News Service and Vancouver Sun
Monday, April 10, 2006
A group seeking redress for a head tax once charged on Chinese-Canadians says
it has received assurances from the new Conservative government that survivors
who paid the tax will receive anywhere between $15,000 to $30,000 in
compensation over the next few months.
“The government has accepted our proposal to compensate these survivors,”said
Dr. Joseph Wong, founding president of the Chinese Canadian National Council,
who met last week with Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda and Jason Kenney,
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.
“The compensation will be somewhere in the amount of $15,000 to $30,000 for
those who directly paid the tax or their spouse,” he said. Government officials
could not be reached Sunday to comment on Wong's suggestion of a deal.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the head tax a “grave injustice,”
but declined to give details about the timing of an apology, or of the details of any
potential compensation. He said the government would consult with Chinese-Canadians
about how it would apologize.
On Sunday, however, Wong spoke not only of the compensation package, but said
officials within the Conservative government have promised him that an apology will
be issued by July 1st — 83 years to the day the Chinese Exclusion Act was enacted.
Hearing a report of Wong's comments, a spokesman for a group representing those
affected by the head tax in B.C. said the proposed compensation package, if true,
would mean an historic milestone.
“I think it would help to heal the wounds of the Chinese community,” said Bill Chu,
spokesman for the B.C. Coalition of Chinese Head Tax Payers, Their Spouses and
Descendants. “It's justice finally being done, and I think we all should be happy.”
Chu, who met Oda and Kenney in Toronto last month along with about 17 other
Chinese leaders from across the country, said he had not heard anything onthe issue
of compensation from the government.
Speaking from his home in Vancouver on Sunday, Chu added he believes Harper is
committed to dealing with the issue and commended the new government for its swift
“Even before the election [Harper] made this as a promise to the Chinese community,”
said Chu. “He himself had made the promise and he is simply making good on his
promise and doing the honourable thing.”
When asked if he thinks the proposed $15,000 to $30,000 would be enough to satisfy
members of the community, Chu said he does, though he was quick to explain the issue
reaches far beyond money.
“The success of this redress is not about achieving a certain dollar figure,” said Chu.
“It is about achieving the elimination of discrimination against any people, in this case
Following the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1881, and, in response to
growing immigration during the B.C. gold rush, the federal government tried to stem
the flow of immigrants from China by imposing an average $50-500 head tax. Between
1885 and 1923 Ottawa collected more than $23 million from an estimated 81,000
Chinese immigrants who entered the country.
There are fewer than 300 Head Tax payers still alive in Canada, while several thousand
descendants have registered with the CCNC, said Wong. Wong made his comments on
Sunday in Toronto where he joined NDP MP Olivia Chow for the first of several
information sessions set to take place in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver on
head tax redress.
“The NDP and Bloc have made themselves clear on this issue,” said Chow after speaking
to a crowd of more than 400 gathered to register relatives or spouses who paid the tax.
“The Conservatives need us in a minority government. Given how clear we are, I think,
I have some confidence there will be adequate action on this issue.” Also attending that
meeting was Landy Ing Anderson, who was there for her 106-year-old grandfather
believed to be the oldest surviving Head Tax payer in the country.
“When an apology finally comes it will right the wrong,” said Ing Anderson, wiping away
(c) The Vancouver Sun 2006