Prime Minister Harper comes to Vancouver Chinatown and announces “Head Tax payments soon” – dialogue with which Chinese-Canadians?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to Vancouver Chinatown for a dinner
meeting with Chinese business community.  It was organized by
Jimmy Fong, president of Vancouver's Community Care and Advancement
Association. 

Several ironies appeared.  Harper made the announcement that
payments for Head Tax Compensation would happen soon.  But the two
of the leading organizations responsible for the head tax redress
awareness, ACCESS and Head Tax Families Association, were not invited
to the dinner.

Several community groups staged a protest because: the majority (99%)
of head tax families have been excluded from the redress payments; and
of the “new government's positions on the War in Afghanistan.

As well, as reporter for Ming Pao was battered because he was attacked by a frustrated motorist. 
see: http://chineseinvancouver.blogspot.com/2006/10/reporter-battered.html

Head tax compensation to be paid soon:
Harper

Updated Wed. Oct. 11
2006 11:14 AM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Ottawa will
begin to redress the head tax once applied to Chinese immigrants with payments
to survivors in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

Speaking
at a dinner hosted by a Chinese immigrant group, Harper said Tuesday it's
important that this happen now while some of those who paid the tax to enter
Canada
are still alive to receive the symbolic $20,000 payments.

Harper
called the tax “a moral blemish on our country's soul.”

Harper
recognized contributions that the Chinese community has made, including
building of the CP Railway.

He
said Canada
as it exists today wouldn't be possible without the efforts of the Chinese
community.

“You
are part of our family,” he said.

Harper
formally apologized to Chinese-Canadians for the tax in Parliament on June 22,
calling it a “grave injustice.”

Vancouver's
Community Care and Advancement Association president Johnny Fong, thanked
Harper Tuesday for the government's apology.

“Your
apology at the House of Commons this year has brought tremendous relief to so
many in the community,'' Fong told Harper.

The
prime minister said the government's decision was long overdue.

“Apologizing
for the head tax was simply the right thing to do,” he said.

The
Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality, however, said Tuesday that
Ottawa has been slow to
address the issue.

“He
only addressed point-six per cent of the head tax families — less than one per
cent — of the head tax families that have survivors,” the association's
Sid Tan told The Canadian Press at a protest outside the dinner for Harper.

“What
he has done is rewarded the government for dragging its feet for over 20 years.
Shame on them for that.”

It
is believed there are about 400 surviving head-tax payers or their widows from
an estimated 81,000 immigrants who paid the tax between 1885 and 1923 when the
federal government tried to restrict Chinese immigration.

The
tax, which was set at $50 when it was imposed in 1885, rose to $500 in 1903 —
then the equivalent of two years' wages.

Collection
of the tax ended when the Exclusion Act came into effect in 1923, effectively
barring immigration from China
until it was repealed in 1947.

With
files from The Canadian Press

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20061011/head_tax_061011/20061011?hub=TopStories

 

PM lauded and protested in Chinatown

Oct, 11 2006 – 12:50 AM

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980)
– While Stephen Harper was being praised inside for being the first Prime
Minister in 50 years to address the historical head tax on Chinese immigrants,
protestors outside a dinner with Vancouver 's
Chinese Business community weren't as happy with Harper.

The Head Tax Families Society of Canada was one of 30 groups that supported a
protest outside last night's event.

Meena Wong says Harper's head tax re-dress recognizes fewer than one per cent of
the families who suffered under the financial weight, “There's
approximately 81-thousand who paid the head tax and the Harper Government only
addressed the survivors as well as their spouses which is about 500.”

The group
is lobbying for what they call complete and proper re-dress.

A 99-year
old head tax survivor was among those that presented Harper with a gift last
night, acknowleding his Government's apology in the House of Commons.

http://www.cknw.com/news/news_local.cfm?cat=7428218912&rem=49509&red=80121823aPBIny&wids=410&gi=1&gm=news_local.cfm

 

Chinese head tax redress payments starting soon: PM

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | 8:30 AM ET

CBC
News

The federal government will begin to redress the
Chinese head tax with payments to survivors within the next few
weeks, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

Speaking Tuesday in Vancouver
at a dinner hosted by a Chinese immigrant group, Harper called the tax “a
moral blemish on our country's soul.”

Johnny Fong of the Community Care and Advancement Association speaks after Prime Minister Harper's announcement on the start of Chinese head-tax payments.
Johnny Fong of the Community Care and
Advancement Association speaks after Prime Minister Harper's announcement on
the start of Chinese head-tax payments.

(CBC)

The prime minister formally
apologized to Chinese-Canadians in the House of Commons in June and offered a
symbolic payment of $20,000 to the roughly 400 survivors or their widows.

Those payments will begin in the next few weeks, he said.

“Addressing it directly and honestly has been an
issue we felt strongly about for some time,” said Harper.
“Apologizing for the head tax was simply the right thing to do and it was
long overdue.”

Imposed between 1885 and 1923, the tax ranged from $50 to
$500. It's estimated about 82,000 Chinese paid the fee until the Exclusion Act
came into effect in 1923, effectively banning further immigration from
China
until 1947.

Harper said the redress payment was a token and can't
make up for the suffering caused by the tax.

Johnny Fong, president of Vancouver's Community Care and
Advancement Association, said Chinese-Canadians appreciate the recognition.

“Your apology at the House of Commons to the
affected families has brought tremendous relief to so many in the
community,” he said.

With files from the Canadian
Press

 

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2006/10/11/head-tax.html

Head-tax survivors to get cash soon0

Canadian Press

VANCOUVER ¡ª Symbolic redress payments to Chinese
head tax survivors will begin in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Stephen
Harper says.

It is important that this happen now while some of
those who paid the tax to enter Canada
are still living, Mr. Harper said.

Speaking at a dinner hosted by a Chinese immigrant
group, he called the tax ¡°a moral blemish on our country's soul.¡±

Mr. Harper recognized several contributions of the
Chinese community, including building of the CP Railway.

Related to this article

Latest Comments Comments

The Globe and Mail

He said
Canada as it exists today would not
have been possible without the Chinese community's efforts.

¡°You are part of our family,¡± he said.

Mr. Harper apologized for the tax in Parliament on
June 22.

In doing so, he offered compensation for what he
called ¡°a great injustice.¡±

On Tuesday, Johnny Fong, president of Vancouver's
Community Care and Advancement Association, thanked Mr. Harper for the
government's apology to the Chinese community.

¡°Your apology at the House of Commons this year has
brought tremendous relief to so many in the community,¡± Mr. Fong said.

The Prime Minister responded that the government's
decision wasn't brave.

¡°Apologizing for the head tax was simply the right
thing to do, and it was long overdue,¡± he said.

Mr. Harper also acknowledged that many ancestors of
Chinese Canadians faced large amounts of prejudice and discrimination when they
arrived in Canada .

He said the $20,000 payments are just a token that
cannot make up for the suffering imposed on families who had to scrimp to pay
the tax or who were cut off from their families by the 1923 Exclusion Act,
which effectively banned further immigration from China until 1947.

The Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality,
however, said Tuesday that the government has dragged its feet on the redress
issue.

¡°He only addressed point-six per cent of the head tax
families ¨C less than one per cent ¨C of the head tax families that have
survivors,¡± the association's Sid Tan said at a protest outside the dinner for
Harper.

¡°What he has done is rewarded the government for
dragging its feet for over 20 years. Shame on them for that.¡±

It is believed there are about 400 surviving head-tax
payers or their widows.

They are the remnants of an estimated 81,000
immigrants who paid the tax, which was set at $50 when it was imposed in 1885.

It rose to $500 in 1903 ¨C then the equivalent of two
years' wages.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061011.wheadtax1011/EmailBNStory/National/home

Reporter
battered

10/11/2006
02:10:00 AM

A Ming Pao reporter was assaulted when he was covering
the rally outside Floata Restaurant last night.

100+ demonstrators from 30+ community groups peacefully showed their
discontent on the streets at Keefer and Columbia
from about 5pm.

Demonstrators were blocking some streets and cars weren't able to go in or
out. Drivers were honking loudly, and demonstrators were yelling using
speakers.

One driver was outraged for being caught in the middle of the traffic. He
suddenly got out of his car, wanting to show his anger.

When he saw the Ming Pao reporter taking pictures, he rushed up and tried to
grab the reporter's camera. The reporter resisted, turning his back to
protect the camera. The man attacked him from the side, and the reporter's
eye glasses flew over and landed on the ground.

The man was taken away quickly. But the reporter suffered abrasion to his eye
and a broken pair of glasses.

Tags: demonstration, , stephen harper, chinese community,
chinese canadian,
vancouver, chinatown, head tax, reporter, demonstration, rally

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Direct
dialogue => monologue

10/11/2006
02:00:00 AM

Stephen Harper's “direct dialogue” dinner with
the Chinese community last night turned out to be a show place for our prime
minister.

Organizer Johnny
Fong (·½¾ýŒW) was reported saying
that
Harper would speak for 20 minutes, then he'd take a few questions from the
floor but stressed Harper wouldn't possibly answer all questions
“because of time constraint”.

However, it turned out to be a completely no answer night.

Fong has forwarded five questions for Harper before his speech. Most of them
related to China-Canada relations, trade and ADS. However, no where in
Harper's speech answered any of Fong's questions, which are seen as questions
of particular concern to local Chinese businesses in general.

Not only that, Harper didn't take any questions from the floor. He did pose
for pictures with as many guests as possible though, asking each table to
come on stage to smile with him in front of a backdrop Harper once used when
he redressed the head tax controversy.

George Chow (Öܾ¼ÈA), city coucillor
and former chair of the Chinese Benevolence Assn, said h
e was surprised that none of
the issues the community wanted to hear about were addressed by Harper.
“Though the atmosphere was good, it wasn't a 'dialogue' per se.”

Fong said he wasn't disappointed that his questions weren't answer.
“Perhaps he didn't have enough time to prepare for some answers.”

But Harper was taking notes while Fong raised the questions, according to
Fong. Fong believed Harper wanted to formulate the answers later.

Fong claimed the dinner a success and it's a good start to have a PM sitting
down, talking with the Chinese community. Fong said he wanted to hold more
community events like this with the PM.

Harper did talk about his gratitude for Chinese Canadian contribution to
building this country. Standing against a backdrop with Chinese words
“apology” written all over, Harper thanked the Chinese community
for welcoming the redress package.

But not all Chinese organizations would agree. Sid Tan (ÖÜÃ÷Ýx)
with the Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity Society
(ACCE
SS)
was among about the 100
demonstrators rallied
outside Floata Restaurant tonight.

Tan said Harper's so-called “redress” only addressed 0.6% of all
head tax collected. “This is a very very small amount.”

Head Tax Families Society of Canada couldn't get an invitation at the end (here).
Tin Yan Wong (üSÌì¶÷) said they first approached the
organizer to express their interest in getting an invitation. However, they
were told they should ask who and who and who and so on, and eventually no
one gave them an invitation. “That's why we are here.”

On the other hand, to the dismay of the media, reporters were ushered into a
separate room after hearing Harper's speech. They were “invited” to
have dinner in that room. But in fact they were told that even if someone
didn't want to eat, he/she still had to stay in the room. Reporters were told
“this is for security reasons.”

Reporters complained that they were like under house arrest, as there were
people guarding the door, preventing any reporter to sneak out.

When the reporters were “released”, they were told they could then
take group photos of Harper smiling with a bunch of guests.

This is the Tories' interpretation of “dialogue”.

Tags: stephen harper, conservative party,
tories, canada, politics, chinese canadian,
chinese community,
vancouver, chinatown, head tax

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Redress
payments to Chinese head tax survivors to begin soon: PM

10/11/2006
01:02:00 AM

From the Canadian Press, October 10, 2006

VANCOUVER
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says symbolic redress payments to Chinese head
tax survivors will begin in the next few weeks.

Harper says it¡¯s important that this happen now while some of those who paid
the tax to enter Canada
are still living.

Speaking at a dinner hosted by a Chinese immigrant group, he called the tax
¡°a moral blemish on our country¡¯s soul.¡±

Harper recognized several contributions of the Chinese community, including
the building of the CP Railway.

He says Canada
as it exists today wouldn¡¯t be possible without the Chinese community¡¯s
efforts.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged that many ancestors of Chinese Canadians
faced large amounts of prejudice and discrimination when they arrived here.

 

http://www.chineseinvancouver.blogspot.com/

 

One thought on “Prime Minister Harper comes to Vancouver Chinatown and announces “Head Tax payments soon” – dialogue with which Chinese-Canadians?

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you Todd for blogging the 2006 info piece on our Government’s apology to a past injustice.
    There are those of us, myself included, who are quite ticked that a group (and their spokesperson) – who have no connection to a past injustice – accepted and “spoke on behalf” of the intended group.
    How can it be that an IMMIGRANT Chinese collective take acknowledgement?
    I am a direct descendant of at least 12 head tax payers, and was quite content that we let old dogs lay. But when our government started cozying up to Chinese Canadians… it became downright outrageous that they cozied up to an opportunist group.
    Although the gesture was well meaning, it was at the same time, very insulting.
    The only similarity was that these “Canadians” shared a similar ethnicity. But it’s obvious, that they don’t share a similar standard of ethics.

    Reply

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