CBC News: Expand head-tax payments, Chinese group says

Expand head-tax payments, Chinese group says

Last Updated: Monday, February 19, 2007 | 7:13 PM ET


The federal government should expand head-tax payments to
include families of the Chinese immigrants who paid the tax, the Chinese
Canadian National Council said Monday.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last June
that the government would make “symbolic” head-tax payments of
$20,000 to roughly 400 people who paid the tax, or their widows. He also made
a formal apology to Chinese Canadians.

But now the Chinese-Canadian group wants the
payments extended to cover roughly 3,000 families who paid the tax. It wants to
meet the government to discuss expanding the payments.

“We are hopeful that the Canadian government will
build on the partial achievements last year,” Colleen Hua, president,
said in a recent posting on the council's website. “We call on Prime
Minister Harper to restore dignity to all head-tax families and extend payments
to those families where the head-tax payer and spouse have both passed

The tax, a discriminatory measured aimed only at Chinese
immigrants, was imposed from 1885 to 1923, while the Dominion of
Newfoundland had a similar tax between 1906 and 1949, before it joined Confederation.

It was imposed to deter Chinese immigration after
Chinese workers helped finish the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885.

The tax started at $50 per person in 1885 and rose to $500 per person in 1903,
equal to as much as two years' salary.

After it was withdrawn in 1923, the head tax was replaced
by the Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigrants from the country
altogether until 1947.

With files from the Canadian


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