“Slanted Eyes?” Does Parti Quebecis leader Andre Boisclair have a “slanted” view of Asian-Canadians?

“Slanted Eyes?” Does Parti Quebecis leader Andre Boisclair have a “slanted” view of Asian-Canadians?

PQ leader Andre Boisclair has called Asians “yeux bridés”
which translates as “slanted eyes.”  He is not making an apology
for this racist slur.  He says it is an acceptable term in french
language.  The Chinese-Canadian National Council
has called on Boisclair to apologize.  He is refusing.  Even
May Chiu the Chinese-Canadian born in Quebec who ran as a Bloc
Quebecois candidate in the 2006 federal election against Paul Martin
has said that “
yeux bridés” is a derogatory term and she will review her membership in the PQ party. 

Is
Boisclair living in the dark ages?  There used to be a time when
the term “coloured person” was acceptable in society… or “chink”…
or “blackie”…  Communication is about people understanding the
message you are trying to convey, not telling people they are wrong for
misunderstanding you.  This is why racism is wrong and
hurtful.  Imagine telling somebody that because they don't like
the term you call them, you are not wrong – they are!  Maybe
Boisclair should read the book “
Black Like Me (1961)” by John Howard Griffin, to discover what it is like to walk in the shoes of non-white people.

I
have been called many names as I have grown up such as: Chink,
Chinaman, Nip, Nipper, Boat people, and more.  Many times they
were uttered by people who were ignorant, frustrated or angry. 
Sometimes they were said by British immigrants to Canada. 
Sometimes they were said by multigenerational Canadians.  I
consider myself 5th generation Canadian, after my
great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan came to Canada in 1896.

Boisclair's comment is similar to the 1985 Campus Giveaway story run on CTV's W5 program which resulted in the historic W5 protest
by Chinese Canadians across Canada.  Just because people have
Asian features and could be immigrants or foreign students doesn't mean
they aren't actually multi-generational Canadians of Asian ancestry,
born in Quebec!

See below for some of the newstories + statements from the CCNC.

March 16, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

CCNC Slams PQ Leader On “Slanting Eyes” Comment

TORONTO. Chinese Canadians today slammed Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair
for his refusal to correct his offensive description of Asian students as
having “slanting eyes.” Mr. Boisclair was
speaking to Quebec
students on the topic of global competition on Wednesday when he said:
“The reality is these countries are not just working to create jobs in
sweatshops. When I was in Boston ,
where I spent a year, I was surprised to see that on campus about one-third of
the students doing their bachelor's degrees had slanting
eyes
.”

“These are
not people going to work in sweatshops. They are people who will later become
engineers and managers who create richness. There is a ferocious competition
happening in the world today. What I would like to do is equip you and equip
Quebec to face (the
challenge).” Source:
Montreal
Gazette: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=307e19e1-f727-4086-9ef1-d899d2852706&p=2

“We were extremely disappointed to learn that Mr. Boisclair did not avail himself of the opportunity
yesterday to correct himself and simply withdraw the remarks,” Colleen
Hua, CCNC National President said today. “Mr. Boisclair’s
failure to recognize his harmful comments and his refusal to make amends calls
into question his suitability to be the next Premier of Quebec.”

“How can he
defend the interests of all Quebecers when he fails to recognize the harmful
nature of his words.

In response to questions about whether the term is derogatory, CCNC
cited two dictionary references:
 

From: http://www.wordwebonline.com/en/SLANTEYE
 

Noun:
slant-eye
  slant I

1.       
(slang) a disparaging term for an Asian person (especially for North Vietnamese soldiers in the Vietnam War)
gook [N. Amer]

Derived forms: slant-eyes

Type of: Oriental [archaic], oriental person

From: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/slant

slant-eye  Slang: Disparaging and Offensive. an Oriental person, esp. a Chinese or Japanese.

 

“Mr. Boisclair has alienated some of
his supporters including members of his party’s campaign with his lack of
sensitivity,” Victor Wong, CCNC Executive Director said today. “Is
it acceptable to refer to school children as students with slanting eyes?

“If they are a source of amazement to Mr. Boisclair,
then why not be more respectful and just refer to us as Asian Canadians or
Asian Quebecers?”

While the French expression « yeux bridés » may have a nuance, it is clear that
many Asian Canadians are offended. CCNC urges Mr. Boisclair
to seize this opportunity during this Action Week Against
Racism in Quebec
to correct himself, that is, to withdraw his harmful comments, and to do so
immediately.

CCNC is a community leader for Chinese Canadians in promoting a more
just, respectful, and inclusive society. CCNC is a national non-profit
organization with 27 chapters across
Canada with a mandate to promote
the equality rights and full participation of our community members in all
aspects of Canadian society.

-30-

For more information, please contact Victor Wong at (416) 977-9871.

end

'No way' will Boisclair apologize for remarks

From Friday's Globe and Mail

QUEBEC
Parti Québécois Leader
André Boisclair refused to apologize yesterday
for referring to Asians as having “slanted eyes,” even as he faced
criticism from Asian-Canadian and other groups that the comments were
offensive.

The
Chinese Canadian National Council said Mr. Boisclair
should withdraw his words, which it said were disrespectful and traded on
caricatures. And a Montreal
civil-rights group said the PQ Leader should apologize because the remarks
betrayed “racial bias.”

“It's
a character issue,” said Victor Wong, executive director of the council,
which has members in Quebec .
“You're aspiring to be premier, and aspiring to be premier of all of us.
To refer to Asian students as having slanting eyes is offensive.”

Mr.
Boisclair said during a campaign speech to students
on Wednesday that they would face growing competition from emerging powerhouses
like India and
China .
He said he was struck by the large number of Asian students while he was
completing his one-year master's degree at Harvard
University in
Boston .

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Mr.
Boisclair studied at the John F. Kennedy School of
Government before running for the PQ leadership in 2005.

“I
was surprised to see that on campus, about a third of the undergraduate
students had slanted eyes,” he said.

“They're
not going to work in sweatshops. They're people who will later work as
engineers, managers, and will create wealth. They're people who will innovate
in their countries. There is ferocious competition in the world today.”

The
PQ has spent years trying to build bridges with ethnic minorities, who have
traditionally backed the Liberal Party, and Mr. Boisclair
has tried to make inclusiveness and tolerance one of his selling points since
his election as PQ leader in 2005.

Yesterday,
faced with repeated questions from reporters, Mr. Boisclair
said he stood by his remarks and didn't understand why a fuss was being made,
since he has used the “slanted eyes” phrase repeatedly in stump
speeches in the past.

“There's
no way I will apologize,” he told reporters during a campaign stop in
Quebec City . He said he
used the expression because “these people are a source of amazement for
me. I've been to Japan ;
they are my friends, my colleagues. No way I will
apologize.”

Asked
why he was referring to the Japanese, when he had talked about Chinese students
the day before, Mr. Boisclair said he meant students
from various Asian countries.

Mr.
Boisclair was speaking French to a classroom of
university students when he referred to “yeux bridés,” which
translates as slanted or slanting eyes. He suggested yesterday the term might
have a more negative connotation in English than in French.

“I'm
doing politics, not linguistics,” he said, adding that he believes
“Quebeckers are 100 per cent behind me” on the issue. Even Mr. Boisclair's rivals said they think he did not intend any
malice.

“He
might have used a better choice of words, but I know Mr. Boisclair
enough to know his intention was not to be disrespectful,” Liberal Leader
Jean Charest said.

The
issue has become a distraction for Mr. Boisclair.
While the French media have reported the comments, most of the questions
yesterday came from English-language reporters.

Fo
Niemi of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, a Montreal
civil-rights group, said he was surprised to hear the remarks come from Mr. Boisclair, whom he considered a socially progressive leader
from a new generation of Quebec
sovereigntists.

Mr.
Niemi said he called the PQ yesterday to simply alert them to what he
considered the inappropriateness of Mr. Boisclair's
remarks. But then he said the party's director of communications for the
election campaign, Shirley Bishop, aggressively told him over the phone that
she saw nothing wrong with the comment and blamed “people like you”
for making racism an issue.

That's
when Mr. Niemi said he decided to issue a news release condemning Mr. Boisclair's comments.

“It's
a very derogatory remark and very racially offensive,” Mr. Niemi said in
an interview, adding that the comments were ill considered at a time when
Quebec needs to increase ties with the economies of Asia
and India .

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070316.wxboisclair16/BNStory/National/home
 

March 15, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CCNC Calls on PQ Leader To Correct “Slanting Eyes” Comment

TORONTO. The Chinese Canadian National Council
called on Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair to clarify comments attributed to him in the
Montreal Gazette and Globe and Mail today:

From Montreal
Gazette:

PQ leader sees
Asian rivalry

In speaking to
students yesterday, Andre Boisclair warned that the
working world they will graduate into is totally different from the one of
their parents, but wound up using an unusual turn of phrase. He said in an open
economy, competition from emerging economies like India
and China
is stiff. Every year, 80,000 young people leave India
and 60,000 leave China to go
to study in the United
States .

“The reality
is these countries are not just working to create jobs in sweatshops. When I
was in Boston ,
where I spent a year, I was surprised to see that on campus about one-third of
the students doing their bachelor's degrees had slanting
eyes
.

“These are
not people going to work in sweatshops. They are people who will later become
engineers and managers who create richness. There is a ferocious competition
happening in the world today. What I would like to do is equip you and equip
Quebec to face (the
challenge).”

© The Gazette (
Montreal ) 2007

  http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=307e19e1-f727-4086-9ef1-d899d2852706&p=2

“It is rather disappointing to hear Mr. Boisclair,
and an aspiring Premier at that, refer to students of Asian heritage in this
manner,” Colleen Hua, CCNC National President said today. “Indeed,
it is ironic that today marks the start of Action Week Against
Racism in Quebec .”

“So we are taking action in asking Mr. Boisclair
to correct his statement immediately.”

CCNC is a community leader for Chinese Canadians in promoting a more
just, respectful, and inclusive society. CCNC is a national non-profit
organization with 27 chapters across
Canada with a mandate to promote
the equality rights and full participation of our community members in all
aspects of Canadian society.

-30-

For more information, please contact Victor Wong at (416) 977-9871.

From Montreal
Gazette:

PQ leader
sees Asian rivalry

In
speaking to students yesterday, Andre Boisclair
warned that the working world they will graduate into is totally different from
the one of their parents, but wound up using an unusal
turn of phrase. He said in an open economy, competition from emerging economies
like India and
China
is stiff. Every year, 80,000 young people leave India
and 60,000 leave China to go
to study in the United
States .

“The
reality is these countries are not just working to create jobs in sweatshops.
When I was in Boston ,
where I spent a year, I was surprised to see that on campus about one-third of
the students doing their bachelor's degrees had slanting
eyes
.

“These
are not people going to work in sweatshops. They are people who will later
become engineers and managers who create richness. There is a ferocious
competition happening in the world today. What I would like to do is equip you
and equip Quebec
to face (the challenge).”

© The
Gazette ( Montreal )
2007

  http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=307e19e1-f727-4086-9ef1-d899d2852706&p=2


From Globe and Mail:

Boisclair remarks on 'slanted eyes'

MONTREALParti Québécois Leader
André Boisclair said during a speech on global
competitiveness that he was surprised to see so many students “with
slanted eyes” when he was studying at
Harvard University .

Speaking
to university students in Trois-Rivières
yesterday about growing competition from emerging economies such as
India and
China , he said he had witnessed the
trend firsthand while on a master's program at Harvard.

Mr.
Boisclair studied at the John F. Kennedy School of
Government before running for the PQ leadership in 2005.

“When
I was at Harvard, where I spent a year, I was surprised to see that on campus,
about a third of the undergraduate students had slanted eyes,” he said to
a large classroom packed with students. He went on to say that 80,000 students
from India and 60,000 from
China study in the
United States yearly.

“They're
not going to work in sweatshops. They're people who will later work as
engineers, managers, and will create wealth. They're people who will innovate
in their countries. There is ferocious competition in the world today.”

Mr.
Boisclair also told the students they had benefited
from the language battles their parents' generation had fought.

“The
English sales ladies at Eaton's . . . you didn't live through that,” he
said, evoking a rich symbol of English dominance in
Quebec .

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070315.QUEBECEYES15/TPStory/National

 

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