Head Tax apology – Liberal and NDP statements….

Head Tax apology – Liberal and NDP statements….

The Liberals and the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois made statements
following Harper's Apology for Chinese Head Tax.  Layton was the
most eloquent and most passionate.  Loud cheers constantly
interrupted his talk both in Ottawa and Vancouver.  Duceppe spoke
entirely in French, noone knew what he said. 

The Liberals Bill Graham “lied/bended the truth/spun” about Martin
aplogizing back when he was on a Chinese radio station.  If it was
a “real” apology, he should have said it to English language media and
repeated it many times.  What was he afraid of, saying he was

Liberal PM, MacKenzie King repealed CEA but he also imposed it

1. Liberals statement:

Statement from Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Bill Graham on the Chinese Head Tax Redress
June 22, 2006

winter, the member for Lasalle-Émard, as the Prime Minister of our
country, apologized to the Chinese community for the head tax and the
Chinese exclusion act, which was repealed in 1947 by the Liberal
government of Mackenzie King.
That apology
expressed, on behalf of Canadians, our regret for the hardship and
difficulties inflicted on those victims and their families directly
affected by the Chinese Head Tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act.
understand that apologizing is just part of the healing process for
communities that have been the victims of measures taken in the past
and which today we can recognize as injustices. Liberals want to ensure
that there is an appropriate plan to educate Canadians on this chapter
of our history, so we can learn from our past.
why we signed an agreement-in-principle with several communities to
provide funding for education and commemoration initiatives. We hope
that the government will honour these agreements, and deliver in full
the funds that were committed and permit those communities to tell
their stories in a way that will shed a new perspective on their past
while educating all Canadians so that we may be better citizens and
work to ensure that similar injustices are not committed in future
times because of other reasons.
Our Chinese
community has already achieved that in such moving and modern
expressions as the opera Iron Road, allowing us all to share the
anguish and pain, the courage and determination that was shown while
building the railway that was so essential to build this country and to
which the Prime Minister paid tribute to in his remarks.
is critical, that when addressing historical injustices, we ensure that
we are equal in our treatment of all communities who faced immigration
restrictions, or war time measures. While in government, we initiated
an ambitious program to commemorate those historical inequities.
Liberal Party is committed to supporting the Charter of Rights and
promoting equality for all Canadians. We believe that only through
promoting healthy multiculturalism and education programs can Canadians
ensure that the mistakes of our past are never repeated.
we rejoice with other Canadians in the extraordinary success that
Canadians of Chinese origin have achieved. We recognize that their
talents, their energy, has contributed to our success as a country
whether in business, the professions, or in politics. We share with
them the pride in these individual and community successes; none better
than that incarnated in our former Governor General who, as a woman and
immigrant of Chinese origin came to provide a face for Canada, both to
ourselves and to the entire world.
2. NDP response

Jack Layton’s response to the government’s Head Tax apology

Thu 22 Jun 2006 Printer friendly

Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the New Democratic Party and our
caucus to join with members of this house in apology to all those who
were forced to pay the Chinese head tax, and to all of those families
who suffered under the Chinese Exclusion Act.
This is a
momentous first step towards achieving full justice, reconciliation and
closure – to right the historic wrong of the head tax that has been a
stain on our national conscience for a century.
We have
waited many years for this day – but not as long as the few remaining
head tax payers who honour this House with their presence today.
And not as long as those who died waiting in vain for justice to be done.
Not as long as the many families that were ripped apart and kept apart.
Not as long
as those who were forced to stay behind in China.
Not as long as wives who died waiting to be reunited with their husbands.
Not as long as children who never knew their fathers and grandfathers.
his apology, the Prime Minister spoke of the injustice that was done to
Chinese immigrants. He spoke well of the contribution of Chinese
Canadians to building our railway – indeed, to building our country. He
used the words stigma, exclusion and suffering.
We agree
with his words. They needed to be said, and now they have been said –
on the record, in this House, for future generations of Canadians to
see and understand our history.
We agree with the words – the apology is an all- important first step.
next step should be the action that would give full meaning to the
words – full justice, full reconciliation and full closure – to all
those who suffered from this racist and unjust policy. That step would
entail redress that is more than symbolic – redress to the families of
the head tax payers who died waiting for this day.
calling for full redress, I remind everyone present that the quest for
justice in this House of Commons began over 20 years ago.
1984, a New Democrat MP, Margaret Mitchell of Vancouver, stood in this
place and spoke of the hurtful legacy of racial discrimination that
divides Canada…. On that day, over 20 years ago, she asked the
government to issue an apology and offer redress to those who suffered.
She told the stories of loneliness, heartbreak and
isolation faced by so many Chinese immigrants. She spoke of one
constituent who came to Canada to work at the age of 15 and was forced
to pay the five-hundred dollar head tax…he did so to help his family
survive in China.
But, as with so many families torn
apart by these policies, his wife was later refused entry into Canada
because of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Margaret Mitchell dared to ask that the Prime
Minister on behalf of Canada, formally acknowledge these injustices to
Canadians of Chinese origin. She did so in her own words “In order to
make amends for this shameful period in our history, and to recognise
our new Charter of Rights which should prevent such future
discrimination against ethnic minorities.”
Mitchell was the first to bring the need for an apology and redress
before this House. She was joined by Dan Heap, the NDP MP in
Trinity-Spadina at the time – and together they led the NDP campaign
for justice. Both worked with leaders of the very large Chinese
Canadian populations in their ridings – which included Vancouver’s
Chinatown and Toronto’s Chinatown.
Dan Heap was assisted
by his constituency assistant at the time – a Chinese Canadian
immigrant who now sits with pride with us as the Honourable Member for
Trinity-Spadina. She helped collect the Head tax certificates from the
surviving families.
Margaret Mitchell’s
former seat is now held by the Honourable member for Vancouver East,
who has been resolute in pursuit of justice, on behalf of her
It is those constituents we must honour today – the few living and the many dead.
must also consider this as an apology to the many thousands who never
made it to Canada – who died before the Exclusion Act was lifted, or
who were unable to raise the exorbitant amount required for the head
Families were ripped apart and kept apart for
decades. Some wives left in China were in despair and resorted to
suicide. A generation of children never knew their fathers or
grandfathers. This apology must be for them as well – I hope this
allows all Canadians to reflect on suffering, injustice, and the
absolute importance of this apology.
And so today I commend this Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage for
finally taking the FIRST Step to right this historic wrong –
But we also ask for full justice – the next step.
next step – to finally achieve reconciliation and closure – is surely
to recognize those thousands of head tax payers who died waiting for
this day and to provide redress to their descendents.
Mr. Speaker, today, it is time to begin to heal the wounds of exclusion and discrimination…
Canadians have at long last heard the overdue apology of a nation
finally prepared to recognise the failures of our past, and prepared to
move forward together as one.
We join in the apology, we
applaud this first step — and we will continue to press for the second
step – redress for descendants – to ensure that full justice and
reconciliation is achieved.
It’s important not just for Chinese Canadians, but for all Canadians.
The Prime Minister said “this apology is not about liability.”
say that redress is not about liability. It is about justice – let us
show the world that Canada is indeed a fair, generous and just nation.
Thank you.

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