B.C. NDP releases record of discriminatory laws against Chinese community


Public education about a history of discriminatory laws against Chinese Canadians in B.C. should be part of a reconciliation process with the community, according to B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix.

Dix, along with NDP MLAs Jenny Kwan and Bruce Ralston, released a record of the B.C. legislation during a news conference today, and called for the information to be included as part of a reconciliation process in follow up to an official apology to B.C.’s Chinese community.

“What we have here is simply a mountain of legislation that was also passed by the B.C. legislature that reflected the view at the time…that B.C. should be a white man’s province, and that Canada should be a white man’s country,” said Dix.

“So what we have are 89 specific laws in this binder here, 89 laws, 49 motions, seven reports, two authorizations for spending, multiple efforts to pass more, questions in the legislature and so on. A legislative record that reflects the racism of that time.”

Dix added part of the NDP’s effort will be to make the information public to young people and schools. The information has been posted online, and the party is planning a summit for youth at the Wosk Centre of Dialogue during the first week of February.

“We’re going to work with young people in schools around British Columbia so that young people’s ideas about the apology and about reconciliation that could occur-a legacy that can occur from that apology-can be heard,” he said.

“That would expand I think significantly, in an appropriate way, the efforts of the government to engage primarily with the Chinese-Canadian community and groups on these issues.”

Kwan called an apology without a reconciliation process “insufficient”.

“What we want to do is to make sure a process for reconciliation is put in place,” she said. We start off with ensuring that people, including the Government of British Columbia, understand what it is that we’re apologizing for.”

Dix said the discriminatory laws, ranging from 1872 to 1938, related to issues including the right to vote, the right to work in certain workplaces, economic rights, and immigration.

Kwan noted that other discriminatory practices took place in B.C. that were not documented by way of legislation.

“I give you as an example: Chinese children, at a point in history in British Columbia, were segregated,” she said. “Why? Simply because they were Chinese.”

The B.C. government is expected to issue a formal apology for historical wrongs to Chinese Canadians.

In October, B.C.’s minister responsible for multiculturalism, Teresa Wat, said she would “engage with Chinese community associations and citizens to identify formal wording for an apology”.

The minister is holding a series of consultation forums on the issue, including one in Vancouver on January 12.

Comments (8) Add New Comment
There's also some good evidence drugs prohibition laws were in part introduced in western countries out of racist fear towards certain immigrant groups, & irrational fears of the kind of drugs they chose to use. Of, course, in Canada narcotics laws are a federal matter, but attitudes in BC helped usher in the drug war in Canada.

In the U.S., marijuana use was associated with distrusted Mexicans & ''reefer madness'' stories circulated. Outlawing opiates came at a time of ''yellow peril'' fears & distrust of ''evil'' Chinese. Recreational opium use was largely centered in Chinatowns of cities. In Canada, the outspoken Judge Emily Murphy & her anti-opium, anti-Chinese book ''Black Candle'' was influential in fanning flames against dreaded opium dens supposedly corrupting morals of fine upstanding white men - & worse, white women. There was as much anti-Chinese, anti-opium sentiment in BC as anywhere, probably more, as BC had a higher population of Chinese than other provinces.

We now know from statistics it's our legal popular substances, tobacco, alcohol, & even junk food/food abuse causing obesity that are by far the most damaging & deadly, not illicit drugs. Alcohol's also the most dangerously impairing drug (think accidents, assaults, suicides, domestic abuse, homicides). In part, we have racist intolerance, including in BC, to "thank" for helping launch the failed social experiment known as the war on drugs via hypocritical, unjust laws.
Rating: -1
Eat One Or Two Many
Yes, the day when the fascists apologize to the LSD People for the wanton and soulless persecution thereof, that is going to be a happy day. No group has suffered so much for so little.
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Arm Chair
Is that guy still in the NDP picture?
Rating: +7
Reconciliation process? Trying to make political hay with US-style race-baiting? Adrian Dix continues serving as BC's biggest political joke.

The fact is Chinese are doing well in BC, politically and economically, and historical discrimination against the Chinese is widely known about. Having people in the present apologize for what completely different people did in the past is meaningless. We should focus on problems in the present relevant to the future of all BC residents, such as fixing issues with our education, etc.
Rating: +2
Sukh Hayre
The reason both parties want to talk about our racist past is for a reason most people would never think of.

The reality is, BC (and Canada) are about to be hit hard by the second wave of the financial crisis. We are going to see some hard economic times ahead, and that is almost guaranteed to fuel racist feelings among some who come upon hard times.

The people hit hardest by the upcoming recession will be those that work in residential construction and its related industries. The restaurant and retail sectors will also take a significant hit.

The hardest hit will be young males with limited education and low to semi-skilled labourers. These are also individuals that can cause the most social unrest and destruction.

So, this is an attempt to do a few things:

1. The main goal is to limit the amount of social unrest that results from rising unemployment, being vented through racist aggression. The best way to do this is to be talking about racism before economic realities begin to result in its increase.

2. By making racism a major topic of discussion, it creates an awareness of how wrong it is. This results in positive behaviour by the majority of people who are not looking for a group of people to scapegoat. This is a positive because it is likely to make a lot more people active in fighting it, rather than having racism, and racist aggression foment quietly and become a lot worse than it needs to be, just because we had an apathetic majority.

3. It is also to create an awareness among immigrants (especially the large numbers from India and China) that racism is as wrong today as it was 100 years ago, and that individuals of any ethnicity can be racist. Hopefully this awareness calms tensions so that people do not hunker down in their individual ethnic groups, all looking for someone else to scapegoat.
The reality is, B.C. has benefitted greatly from immigration. And as far as the upcoming hard times go, to get through it, we must go through it together.
B.C. will also be hit hard because so much federal stimulus has already come B.C.'s way since the financial crisis began in 2008. Not to mention all the monies that came this way as a result of the Olympics. A great deal of infrastructure work has been significantly completed over the last five years, and that is going to create another economic headwind going forward.
Rating: +1
Sukh Hayer, love your point #3. Racism is wrong; and every race has been racist at some time or another.

As a "minority" person, I am continually irked by the sight of white people droning about the evils of Canadian racism, which is not less evil than cancer but quite a bit less pressing as an issue for me in 2014.

You see so much of this that it takes on a disagreeable air of smugness. "See how not-racist I am" - well, so what? You're against race bigotry, do you want a cookie? Why, was I expecting you to say that you were FOR race bigotry? You don't also say that you are against shark attacks or dental caries - I guess that means you are for that.

Meanwhile, wookit us poor widdle minowitties. Aw, wook at us. We so victimized by yo wacism. We widdle helpwess innocents.

It's ballocks. Everyone is capable of hurting another, given enough time and power. Look at Burma - they are ***Buddhists***!!

Racism isn't the end of the story. Racism is a symptom of ignorance, irrationality, tribalism, lack of compassion, and fear - but just one (albeit egregious and extremely toxic) symptom. The underlying cause is the not wholly unreasonable paranoia that we have to look out for our own because bad times are coming. Are bad times coming? If you can say yes, then there is an excuse for panic and the hard hand that comes with it.

Let's look a little higher, a little harder please.
Rating: -3
@RUK: Well said. Historical racism is highlighted in North America to distract folks from the real issues that threaten us all: growing economic inequality (i.e. the gap between the rich and the poor), rising cost of education vs adverage real wage, increasing automation of labour, etc.
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400 ppm
@ Sukh Hayre

Nicely said.

But gotta disagree. The NDP should have done the WORK to get themselves elected, or at least relevant. Talking, discussion and awareness accomplish nothing but a (momentary) warm inner glow, and will prevent nothing REAL in your sceanrio. Talking and discussion are about all the NDP seem to be able to do.
Rating: -3
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