The Chinese Canadian National Council says if Premier Christy Clark is sincere about apologizing for historic discrimination, she will ensure there's a "symbolic return of the head-tax levies back to the head-tax families".
Today on CTV's Question Period, Clark said that she's very committed to apologizing for the head tax, which was imposed only on immigrants from China between 1885 and 1923.
"There are two MLAs in my caucus who are the children of head tax payers," Clark told CTV. "They are very passionate about it, they've been working at this for years. I think though the apology needs to be seen outside of politics, it needs to be an absolutely genuine apology and if the discussion about all the rest of this [the memo controversy] is going to taint that, I say we wait."
The CCNC issued a statement today pointing out that the federal government collected $23 million in head-tax revenue before transferring $8.5 million back to the province.
According to the CCNC, that $23-million figure would be worth $800 million to $1 billion in today's dollars. And it argues a "meaningful amount must be returned to the head-tax families".
"B.C. cannot be seen to be profiting from racism—it damages our image at home and overseas," the CCNC stated.
The CCNC and the Head Tax Families Society of Canada have twice rejected stand-alone apologies.
"Redress done properly can be restorative for both the affected families and for society at large," the CCNC added. "A meaningful apology helps us to heal from the sting of racism and serves to provide the foundation for true reconciliation and equality. This is the last piece of the redress campaign that started in B.C. 30 years ago this year."
Former Vancouver East NDP MP Margaret Mitchell was the first elected official to raise the head-tax issue in a letter written to then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau on September 6, 1983.