III. The Campaign for Redress
1984, an elderly Chinese gentleman read the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms. He thought to himself that since Canada has entered a
new era of human rights, then it was time for the government to redress
the human rights violations of the past. He approached his MP, Margaret
Mitchell [sic] at the time, who in turn contacted the Chinese Canadian
National Council. The CCNC began a national campaign for redress in
1984 by registering over 4000 Head Tax payers, spouses and descendants.
Over the past
decade, there were many promises made and broken by the politicians.
Former Prime Minster Brian Mulroney promised a resolution of the issue
during the 1988 election campaign. The Liberals, while in opposition
promised full support for redress.
While the government
delayed, many of our elderly Head Tax payers passed away. The gentleman
who started the campaign in Vancouver passed away about 5 years ago.
Over half of the [first] 2000 head tax payers who registered with the
CCNC in 1984 have passed away. With each passing day, we are losing
more and more of our early pioneers. The government by delaying any
resolution hopes that the issue will die away with the passing of the
last Head Tax payer.
But the children
and grandchildren of the Head Tax payers will not forget.
IV. Update ‑ Refusal of Canadian
Government to acknowledge past wrongs, and the Submission to the United
the present government came to power last year, we had great hope that
a resolution could be negotiated. We modified our demands to take into
account the financial difficulties of the government. We held numerous
meetings with the Secretary of State for Multi‑culturalism, Sheila
Finestone. That is why we were shocked when Mrs. Finestone, without
any prior warning announced that the government will not redress the
Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act. The only reason she gave is that
the past is the past and we cannot do anything about it.
of the government to redress the Head Tax and Exclusion Act was brought
into context a few months later when the Paul Martin budget announced
a new Head Tax of $975 on all new immigrants. If we had won our redress,
it would have been impossible for the government to attack new immigrants
with another Head Tax.
After a decade,
the government refused to apologize, refused to compensate and refused
to acknowledge any wrong doings. The government by refusing redress
has in essence refuse to recognize our history in Canada, since 62 years
of our history was determined by these two laws.
When I told
the news to one elderly Head Tax payer, he shook his head slowly and
said, "Let history be the judge."
Since the CCNC
has faced a dead end in trying to obtain a made in Canada resolution
to the issue, we had no choice but to take it to the Human Rights Commission
of the United Nations. On March 21, 1995, the International Day Against
Racism, the CCNC presented its submission to High Commissioner Jose
V. The violations of the UN Human Rights
The CCNC submits
that Canada, as a member of the United Nations and a signatory to the
following instruments, was and continues to be, in violation of the
provisions of international covenants (extensive list of provisions
omitted from this edited transcript).
The CCNC submits
that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, through its appropriate
body, bring this matter before the Government of Canada and in why Canada
has not adequately and appropriately met its international human rights
obligations to the Chinese Head Tax payers and their families.
The CCNC is
still calling on the Canadian Government to enter into good faith negotiations
to resolve this long‑standing grievance.