English translation: CCNC will File a Class Action Lawsuit against the Ottawa for the Head Tax Victims
World Journal Toronto Report
The Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC) will file a class action lawsuit against the federal government for the victims who suffered from the head tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act. CCNC, with the authority to represent the victims and family members of the Head Tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act, has formally sent the lawyer’s letter to the Department of Justice Canada.
Avvy Go, the lawyer representing the plaintiff, said yesterday that in a lawyer's letter sent to the Department of Justice Canada a few days ago, the victims of the head tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act and their families expressed their hope to resolve the issue of apology and compensation through negotiations with the federal government. However, if the government does not respond to the letter, they will try to find a solution through legal process. The CCNC will set December 15th as a deadline. If the government does not respond to the lawyer's letter by then, the plaintiff will file a class action lawsuit against the federal government with the Supreme Court of Ontario. As for the amount of compensation they requested, Avvy Go said that there is no specific number at present.
In the sixty-two years from 1885 to 1947, the Canadian government imposed a head tax only on Chinese immigrants. At the beginning, $50 per person was levied, and that later increased to $100 per person. By 1904, the head tax had increased to $500 per person. During this period, a total of 81,000 Chinese immigrants became victims of the head tax. The government collected a total of 23 million dollars from them. The money was valued at over 120 million dollars in 1988.
In addition, the government passed the “China Immigration Act” in 1923, which completely banned Chinese immigrants from entering Canada. This discriminatory law against the Chinese was not abolished until 1947. During this period, less than 50 Chinese were allowed to enter Canada. Most of them were diplomats and wealthy businessmen.
Ms. Xie Wanqing, the executive director of the CCNC, said at the press conference announcing the news yesterday that the purpose of the class action lawsuit against the federal government is to enable those who were unfairly treated and their families to receive correction and compensation. In 1984, a total of about 1,000 victims of the head tax authorized the CCNC to request for redress and compensation from the government. But now many people have passed away and many have lost the contact with the CCNC. Only three people signed on the letter to the Department of Justice Canada. One is a victim, one is the wife of another victim and one is a descendant of a victim.
Avvy Go said that she wishes to have more victims and their family members stand up and get in touch with the CCNC to join the group that is asking the government to redress the unfairness and compensate the victims and their families.
Zheng Mingmei, the president of the CCNC, said that the CCNC has made many years of efforts for the redress and compensation of the head tax. Since 1984, the CCNC has launched a national campaign in order to redress the head tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act. Until now, the CCNC has negotiated with seven federal ministers of multiculturalism consecutively and filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Commission. The federal government has neither apologized nor provided compensation to the victims and their families.
She said that this action is a further step based on past actions of the CCNC and it will be a historic action with a hope to urge the federal government to solve the problems left over from this history.
It appears that the CCNC chose to propose a class action lawsuit against the federal government at present so that the CCNC is able to submit the matter to the United Nations World Conference against Racism, which will be held in South Africa next August.
Mr. Li, a descendant of one head tax victim, attended the press conference yesterday. He said that his family has suffered a lot from the head tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act. Therefore, the whole family hopes that the Prime Minister Jean Chrétien could show the courage and sincerity to redress the mistake and compensate the victims and their families. It will also bring a fair ending to the incidents that have caused criticisms against Canada for a long time.
He also said that his eighty-nine year old mother, who is one of the victims, is eager to see the case resolved in her lifetime.