NDP Calls on Government to Provide Fair Deal for Chinese Head Tax Payers

OTTAWA – NDP Leader Jack Layton along with his caucus colleagues, House Leader Libby Davies (Vancouver East), Immigration Critic Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas) and MP Peter Julian (Burnaby-New-Westminster), urged the Prime Minister to find a compromise and fair deal for all Chinese Canadian head tax payers and their families, today.

“These families deserve an apology and real respect from this government,” said Layton. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Federal NDP questioned the government’s reasoning in allocating $12.5 million for a redress project to a single organization without including thousands of head tax payers, their families and their representatives.

“It is completely inadequate for this government to exclude at least 4000 head tax payers, their families and descendants through a lump sum agreement with only one organization,” said Davies.

$12.5 million has been allocated to Chinese Canadians through the Acknowledgement, Commemoration and Education (ACE) Fund, established for communities affected by wartime and similar past measures. The government is expected to announce Wednesday that it will sign over the entire allocation to the National Congress of Chinese Canadians, despite calls from several other organizations, such as the Chinese Canadian National Council, to be involved in any commemorative, educational or other key measures that may arise from the fund.

“At the forefront of the redress movement is the Chinese Canadian National Council, which represents thousands of head tax payers and their families,” said Layton, “but if this deal goes forward in its current form, CCNC will have no say in how the funds will be spent.”

“The Prime Minister should remember his responsibility to find a course of compromise that will address the needs of the diverse community of Chinese Canadians that deserve to be acknowledged here,” said Julian.

“Finding a compromise to address the injustices committed against Chinese immigrants to Canada over a period of decades should be this government’s first priority,” added Siksay.

The Canadian government collected $23 million from Chinese Immigrants to Canada between 1885 and 1923.