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Injustice of head tax recognized June 22 named in honour of wronged Chinese

Simone Joseph, Staff Writer
Oct 7, 2006

(York Region) - A day to remember the wrongs of the head tax will help the Chinese community cope with the historic injustice, Oak Ridges MPP Frank Klees said.

"It will begin the healing process," he said in a phone interview Thursday. "It will send a clear signal that the wrongs inflicted are being recognized."

Mr. Klees, the Conservative immigration critic supported an NDP motion declaring June 22 as Chinese Canadian Head Tax Redress Day.

That date -- June 22 -- is significant because it is when the Canadian government apologized for the head tax in the House of Commons.

The head tax issue dates back to when people of Chinese origin were brought to Canada in the late 1800s to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Following the completion of the railroad, the federal government introduced a tax on immigrants of Chinese origin coming to Canada to restrict the number of immigrants.

The NDP introduced the Head Tax Redress Day motion to the legislature and the motion could not have been passed if all three parties had not agreed to it, Mr. Klees said.

On June 22, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a $24-million program, which will fund commemorative and educational projects such as monuments, commemorative plaques and local exhibits.

The Government of Canada has also allocated $10 million to help educate Canadians about the discrimination and hardship faced by the Chinese and other communities through wartime measures.

The federal government has also agreed to pay $20,000 in symbolic payments to Chinese head tax payers and spouses of deceased those who paid the head tax.

The response from the Chinese community to the Chinese Canadian Head Tax Redress Day has been "overwhelmingly supportive and grateful," he said.

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