B.C. apology for anti-Chinese discrimination rejected by community groups

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      A bipartisan motion apologizing for the B.C. government's historical role in discriminating against Chinese people was tabled today (May 15) in the legislature.

      Here's the text of the motion introduced by the B.C. Liberal government:

      Be it resolved that this Legislature apologizes for more than a hundred laws, regulations, and policies that were imposed by past provincial governments that discriminated against people of Chinese descent since 1871, when British Columbia joined Confederation, to 1947. These laws and policies denied British Columbia's Chinese communities' basic human rights, including but not limited to, the right to vote, hold public office, or own property; imposed labour, educational and employment restrictions; subjected them to health and housing segregation, and prevented them from fully participating in society. The House deeply regrets that these Canadians were discriminated against simply because they were of Chinese descent. All members of this House acknowledge that we all aspire to be a fair and just society where people of all nations and cultures are welcomed, accepted and respected.

      Be it further resolved that the House acknowledge that the Chinese Canadian community endured untold hardships and persevered with grace and dignity. We acknowledge that despite being subjected to discriminatory laws, policies and practices, the Chinese community has made, and continues to make, substantial contributions to the culture, history and economic prosperity in our province.

      However, the Christy Clark government—which was embroiled in the "quick wins" scandal in 2013—hasn't satisfied everyone in the Chinese community. The Chinese Canadian National Council has already said today that it "declines" the apology.

      In a news release, the council noted it and the Head Tax Families Society of Canada have been seeking an "inclusive redress". Both groups have asked for the "symbolic return" of head tax proceeds to the families of those who paid the racist immigration levy.

      “A government should never be seen to be profiting from racism but this is what has happened here today,” Victor Wong, executive director of the Chinese Canadian National Council, said in the release. “Only the affected head tax families can accept this Apology and allow the reconciliation process to begin.”

      “We urge all MLAs to reflect on our views and to expend the effort to offer a meaningful apology to the Chinese Canadian community.”

      A list of discriminatory legislation from B.C.'s history is available on the province's EmbraceBC website.



      Sid Tan

      May 15, 2014 at 1:49pm

      It speaks volumes that Premier Christy Clark and BC legislators "...regrets that these Canadians were discriminated against simply because they were of Chinese descent." The Chinese in Canada couldn't become Canadians until 1947.

      Today's apology in the BC Legislature is an apology by current status quo politicians for past status quo politicians for racism and discrimination. I am disappointed by this apology by BC legislators who are very unfeeling, dismissive and arrogant to the surviving directly affected elderly sons and daughters of head tax and exclusion families.

      The message here is you can profit from racism in BC and an apology makes it okay. Shame on our politicians and community leaders who fail to understand this is about justice and honour for Elders of pioneer Chinese families in BC. It is a start but we believe the best legacy from this apology is a just and honourable redress to seniors who lived through the exclusion legislation. They have been ignored.

      Where is there an attempt at restorative justice, healing and reconciliation for them?


      May 15, 2014 at 3:42pm

      Hopefully they will apologize for their previous apology!

      Vikram Bajwa

      May 16, 2014 at 10:05am

      Fair compensation is the need of the hour, for the trauma and discrimination for over 100 years. CHINA Rejects LNG SALE.

      Not the same guy

      May 18, 2014 at 10:02pm

      The people who suffered from the racist head tax were those who could not afford to emigrate not those who paid and left China. The policy was horribly racist but the fact is that those who paid chose that over the alternative of staying. The apology should be directed at those who's ancestors couldn't raise the money rather than those who manage to acquire the funds.


      May 19, 2014 at 7:27pm

      I hope the rejection of the apology stifles every future attempt to win cheap votes by apologizing for something some other regime did years ago.

      That is politicking via the application of lips to the lower area - hilarious, yes, and enjoyable in its place and time, but not suitable for people attempting to do the serious business of governing.


      Jun 9, 2014 at 8:29am

      Why many local Canadians are so sensitive about BC Apologies for "China Head Tax". It comes from they dare not face their predatory history. Any wealth accumulation bases on plunder will bring very severe cultural inferiority. Each culture tries to seek cultural purity. Obviously, they do not have.