Ming Pao: On the eve of conclusion to Headtax redress, several groups jointly blast: “Harper forces elders to the capitol for a political show”

Victor Wong, executive director of  CCNC sent out a translation of yesterday's Ming Pao.

He reports that:

Some folks are making their concerns known however, CCNC's position is to welcome the announcement that an apology will happen on June 22 and to urge the govt to meet with us asap and brief us on the details (so we can respond to facts).

CCNC is  encouraging the HT payers and families to attend if invited; there are satellite events in Toronto and Vancouver and we are asking TV to cover the ceremony live so that it can reach our communities.

CCNC has an expectation of a meeting before June 22nd.

We have also reiterated to Govt that the coalitions need to be invited and 5 invites are not enough even for CCNC. Groups need to do their own lobby.

Strong and negative reactions from Head TAx payer families and
claim groups

Publication: MingPao Daily

Page and Date: A2 of June 15, 2006 Thursday

On the eve of conclusion to Headtax redress, several groups jointly blast: “Harper forces elders to the capitol for a political show”
Arrogant officials, many victims reject going to Ottawa

MingPao Montreal :

“Conservative Party PM Harper; Heritage Minister Oda as well as Parliamentary Secretary Kenney will, on Thursday June 22nd, in Ottawa Parliament, personally apologise individually to the rare surviving head tax victims and widows.  As the arranging work of this “moving scene” of individual apologizing is just getting started, they are already faced with the criticism from victims who are “directly affected” and many claim groups from all over the country.  They are criticizing that Harper’s real aim as “buying Chinese support via doing political show”.

Based on what our publication has gathered, many elders and their children are categorically refusing to agree to travel to Ottawa to become Harper’s “political decoration backdrop” because of the “evasive and hesitant” stance on the part of key Conservative politicians about the details of the redress formula, and in addition to the “arrogant bureaucratic style” of Federal Heritage officials when they contact the head tax victims and widow’s family members.

A 90 yr old head tax widow from the Montreal area who has been confined to a wheelchair for as long as 10 yrs due to bone ailments received a total of 5 phone calls yesterday all day from a person claiming to be representing Heritage department in arranging seniors to travel to
Ottawa to meet with Harper.  This person’s position changed several times and carried tough intransigent attitude.

That bureaucrat initially said the children of course can replace her to get to Ottawa since this elder has been bed bound for years, he also said yes to reissue travel expenses and other expenses.  However, his tone suddenly changed by the afternoon: first saying he cannot make the decision himself and had to run it by his superior; then later insisted once more: “even if the elder has difficulty getting about, she still must personally take up the invitation to the appointment, family members cannot represent her.”  The family members argued but to no avail, and ended up decided not to go to Ottawa, furthermore, they asked why isn’t Harper, bringing along Oda and Kenney etc all getting to Montreal to “offer an apology and admit wrongdoing” to the numerous taxpayers and widows still alive?”

Based on MingPao’s understanding:  many Claim groups from the east and western Canada all feel great discontent toward Harper’s conduct of “belabouring and dragging in so many people” to drag the elders from all over the country to Ottawa to meet him.  These groups all publicly make
their objection; and question why descendants cannot represent the parents or grandparents to accept the Harper apology?

The Newfoundland headtax redress leader Yan, Nova Scotia province head tax redress chair Lui(phonetic), Der of the Montreal Redress group, Kenda  Gee from Alberta’s group, ee(phonetic) from the BC coalition yesterday took turns to indicate that they are “deeply concerned” about the physical conditions of these 80 and 90 year olds.

They publicly question Harper, Oda and Kenney: whether �they have ever considered if this group of elders can withstand the exhaustion and fatigue of a long journey, to take a train trip for several days and nights or long distance car trip of several hours to get to Ottawa to accept their apology ?”

Another reason which causes discontent among some of the victims’ descendants is the lack of human touch and compassion of Heritage department bureaucrats, and their “bureaucratic style” carrying out the work according to superior’s instructions.

A claim group person in charge also added: “There are also some pretty polite officials among the Heritage department, the main problem is their superiors are acting with the aim of “delivering up the numbers of persons for Harper, therefore couldn’t help but resort to displaying tough attitudes towards elders and their family who have suffered the humiliation already for several dozen decades.

“We are afraid that the number of elders who will make the trip to Ottawa to shake Harper’s hand will not be overly numerous if the senior ranks of the Conservative Party do not change this style in a timely manner.”

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