全加華人代表大會上 推崇移民對加國貢獻 表彰華人移民堅忍不拔精神
English translation: Head Tax Dispute
Martin Paid Tribute to Replace Apology
In the National Congress of Chinese Canadians
Praised the Contribution of Immigrants to Canada
Commended the Perseverance of Chinese Immigrants
• The government admits to the mistake of the head tax but does not apologize, which provokes the Chinese group of the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC). Prime Minister Martin "paid tribute to replace an apology" yesterday, commending the Chinese immigrants for their spirit of perseverance. However, the CCNC does not accept the tribute and protests against the Prime Minister. The election is just around the corner, and whether there is room for bargaining on this issue remains to be seen.
Reported by He Yuan from Vancouver
Prime Minister Martin indicated at the “National Congress of Chinese Canadians" yesterday that Chinese immigrants have contributed to various fields in Canada, and specifically said that "the early immigrants persevered and never gave up, and kept fighting for the benefit of the next generation." Their spirit is laudable.
In his speech, Martin did not apologize directly to the head tax payers and their family. Instead, he paid a positive tribute to their dedication to Canada and their unshakable confidence and perseverance, and expressed his gratitude with the respect of the government.
In his speech, Martin took the 98-year-old Guan Xiangguo as an example. He praised these Chinese immigrants as a catalyst for Canada to move towards a multicultural society.
Guan Xiangguo is the only first-generation immigrant we have today who arrived in Canada and had to pay the head tax. He borrowed 500 dollars from his relatives and friends to pay the head tax, and finally was able to come to Canada. He worked while studying in Saskatchewan after he first arrived. He occasionally returned to Kaiping in Guangdong Province to visit his family. He married in 1930, and his family could not come to Canada to reunite with him until 1950.
Martin said that Canadians come from all over the world. The unfair treatment experienced by Chinese people in the past will serve as an alarm to prevent history from repeating in the future. In this way, it will help to promote mutual understanding and tolerance in Canada today.
In his speech, Martin recalled that the Canadian Citizenship Act was proposed by his father, Martin Sr., when he was the cabinet minister in 1947. One of the reasons was that his father went to a memorial cemetary to pay tribute to the deceased soldiers after the Second World War. He saw that the surnames inscribed on the tombstones showed that these soldiers came from all over the world, including China, which made him emotional.
Martin said that he visited a Chinese Canadian family in his hometown with his father when he was young. The old couple had been married for more than 50 years, but the two had lived together for only ten years, and even their children were born in China. Martin said that under his questioning as to why, the man finally said: “it is because the (Canadian) government did not allow it.” He was very surprised at that.
Martin said that after leaving the family, his father emotionally expressed that future generations might remember his achievements in health care and other fields, but he believed that his greatest contribution to the country was to promote the formulation of the “Citizenship Act” and the termination of improper policies such as the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Martin said that generally the agreement signed recently by the federal government and the NCCC aims to publicize and educate, ensuring that such injustices do not recur.
When the Minister of State (Multiculturalism), Raymond Chan, signed the agreement on behalf of the federal government, he delivered a speech where he was emotional and even sobbed once. Both Raymond Chan and Ping T. Tan, chair of the NCCC, said that the agreement “will turn a new page in Canada’s history”.
[Photo]: The 98-year-old Guan Xiangguo (second from right), the head tax payer who experienced the Chinese Exclusion Act, presented two inscriptions to Martin (third from right). Ping T. Tan, cochair of the NCCC, was in the right and Raymond Chan, the Minister of State (Multiculturalism), was in the left. The two inscriptions are: “Having been waiting for many years, our ancestors’ regrets have finally been removed; now we have joined hands to learn from history and live in harmony forever” and “the injustice experienced by Chinese antecedents in the past has finally been redressed and they are relieved; the virture of tolerance and wisdom shown by the Canadian government today will make Canada stronger”.