CCNC calls on BC Government to return Head tax monies in wake of leaked document about targeting ethnic apologies

After the leaked documents revealed the BC Liberal party to use ethnic apologies for “quick wins”, the Chinese Canadian National Council, has now called on the BC government to return the provincial portion of monies received from the Chinese Head Tax 1885 to 1925.  In 2006, the Canadian government acknowledged that the Head Tax was racist and dark part of the country’s history.  Canada issued an apology in parliament and created ex-gratia payment of $20,000 for surviving head tax payers or their spouses if they were pre-deceased.  Only less than 1% of head tax certificates were recognized in this manner.  Another legacy program for education was created called CHRP.

Here is the link to the CCNC website:

Acknowledging BC’s Racist Past by Returning Head Tax Monies to the Families
Friday March 1, 2013 

The Chinese Canadian National Council called on the BC government today to acknowledge its racist past and to return the provincial share of the head tax monies received back to the head tax families.

Vancouver/Toronto. The Chinese Canadian National Council called on the BC government today to acknowledge its racist past and to return the provincial share of the head tax monies received back to the head tax families.

The Chinese have a continuous history in BC since 1858 and have faced overt discrimination right from the beginning. The BC government attempted to pass a head tax but it was declared ultra-vires by the courts because immigration is a federal responsibility. The BC government was able to pass legislation to deny Chinese residents the right to vote and local politicians lobbied the federal government to enact the Head Tax in 1885 and Chinese Exclusion Act in 1923.

A significant amount of these head tax levies that were collected were transferred to BC government. CCNC estimates that $8.5 million, a sum with a present value of $800 million to $1 billion made its way back to BC to pay for the government’s operations and public works investments. “The BC government was unjustly enriched by this arrangement,” Sid Chow Tan, Chair of the Head Tax Families Society of Canada said today. “The BC government must properly and sincerely offer a meaningful apology to the head tax families by returning these ill-gotten gains to them.”

CCNC is also disappointed with the contents in the Haakstad memo that was leaked on February 27, 2013. “Acknowledging a historic wrong should never be viewed as a partisan ‘quick win’,” Victor Wong, CCNC Executive Director added. “We appreciate the Premier’s apology for the memo and urge the BC government to negotiate in good faith with the head tax families to achieve a just and honourable resolution.”

“The BC Legislature passed a unanimous motion to support redress in 1992 and all parties should be included to ensure that the official legislative acknowledgement, apology and return of the head tax monies is seen to be non-partisan and sincere, and not made for political advantage.”

CCNC has lobbied for redress of the Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act since 1984. In 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a Parliamentary Apology which included direct redress to the living head tax payers and surviving spouses. The symbolic financial redress – $20,000 per applicant – affected an estimated 785 families. Redress remains incomplete because some 3,000 head tax families were excluded as the head tax payer and spouse in those families had both passed on. CCNC has proposed that the BC government return a symbolic amount to the head tax families to give meaning to any official apology.

Founded in 1980, CCNC is a national non-profit organization with 27 chapters across Canada and a community leader for Chinese Canadians in promoting a more just, respectful, and inclusive society. CCNC and allies are one of the co-recipients of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation’s 2008 Award of Excellence for its work on the Chinese Head Tax redress campaign.

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For more information or media interviews, please contact:

Sid Chow Tan, Head Tax Families Society of Canada:

Victor Wong, Chinese Canadian National Council:; 416-977-9871


Sid Chow Tan on CBC Almanac:

Feb 28 2013 BC Hansard:

Feb 27 2013 BC Hansard:




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