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转载:加拿大政府就“人头税”正式向华人道歉 专题

附新闻:
中新社温哥华六月二十二日电(记者 吕振亚)“加拿大道歉!”加拿大联邦政府总理哈珀今天用这句生硬的广东话,翻开了加拿大历史的新一页。
 

  当地时间二十二日下午三点许,面对着来自全加各地的一百多名“人头税”缴纳人、遗孀及后裔代表,哈珀在议会发表声明,正式向全加华人公开道歉,并承诺对仍在世的“人头税”苦主及遗孀进行补偿。

  “代表加拿大人民和政府,我们为‘人头税’向加拿大华人致以完全的道歉,也对随后发生的排华问题表达最深的遗憾。”哈珀表示,“道歉不仅仅是完成今天的一项责任,更重要的是希望与那些曾经饱受痛苦磨难的华裔家庭,以及为这个伟大的国家持续做出巨大贡献的更广泛的华裔社区达成和解。”(newstarnet.com)

  这位将重新书写历史的总理同时强调,“没有一个国家是完美的。像所有其他国家一样,加拿大在过去也犯过错误。我们认识到这一点。然而,加拿大的人民是公正的,我们正在纠正过去的错误。”

  他接着说,“在(太平洋)铁路完工的那一刻,加拿大就背弃了华工。我们感觉到有必要纠正这个历史性的错误。因为纠正是正确的决定,代表了加拿大精神的核心特点。”

  哈珀高度评价了华人的历史贡献。他指出,“如果没有当年华工的贡献,加拿大就不会是今天我们看到的样子”。他补充说,中国移民是加拿大历史上最重要的建筑工程──加拿大太平洋铁路的重要建设者。

  加议会三大反对党自由党、魁北克政团和新民主党党领也先后致辞,并一致支持政府的道歉声明。

  在随后举行的主题为“承认、道歉、平反”的仪式上,加政府祖裔部部长小田宣布了一揽子平反计划,其中包括向在世的“人头税”纳税人和遗孀做出“象征性的支付”,补偿金额确定为每人二万加元,“人头税”苦主后人没有被列入补偿对象中。

  另外,小田还表示,联邦政府将斥资二千四百万加元,用于一项“社区历史认同项目”,其中二百五十万加元将用于提高社会对“人头税”以及《排华法》的认识程度;另一项独立的一千万加元资金资助的“国家历史认同项目”,也将以提高社会对歧视问题的认识为重点。

  据悉,加政府目前已确认的“人头税”纳税人在世的还有二十九人,同时还有二百五十至三百名遗孀健在。(完)

Address by the Prime Minister on the Chinese Head Tax Redress
22 June 2006
Ottawa, Ontario
 

Notes for an Address by
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
 
 

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to formally turn the page on an unfortunate period in Canada’s past.

One during which a group of people - who only sought to build a better life - was repeatedly and deliberately singled out for unjust treatment.

I speak, of course, of the head tax that was imposed on Chinese immigrants to this country, as well as the other restrictive measures that followed.

The Canada we know today would not exist were it not for the efforts of the Chinese labourers who began to arrive in the mid-nineteenth century.

Almost exclusively young men, these immigrants made the difficult decision to leave their families behind in order to pursue opportunities in a country halfway around the world they called “gold mountain.”

Beginning in 1881, over 15,000 of these Chinese pioneers became involved in the most important nation-building enterprise in Canadian history ? the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

From the shores of the St. Lawrence, across the seemingly endless expanses of shield and prairie, climbing the majestic Rockies, and cutting through the rugged terrain of British Columbia,

This transcontinental link was the ribbon of steel that bound our fledgling country together.

It was an engineering feat ?one for which the back-breaking toil of Chinese labourers was largely responsible-

That was instrumental to the settlement of the West and the subsequent development of the Canadian economy.

The conditions under which these men worked were at best harsh, and at times impossible:  tragically, some one thousand Chinese labourers died building the CPR.

But in spite of it all, these Chinese immigrants persevered, and in doing so, helped to ensure the future of Canada.

But from the moment that the railway was completed, Canada turned its back on these men.

Beginning with the Chinese Immigration Act of 1885, a head tax of $50 was imposed on Chinese newcomers in an attempt to deter immigration.

Not content with the tax’s effect, the government subsequently raised the amount to $100 in 1900, and then to $500 ? the equivalent of two years’ wages ? in 1903.

This tax remained in place until 1923, when the government amended the Chinese Immigration Act and effectively banned most Chinese immigrants until 1947.

Similar legislation existed in the Dominion of Newfoundland, which also imposed a head tax between 1906 and 1949, when Newfoundland joined Confederation.

The Government of Canada recognizes the stigma and exclusion experienced by the Chinese as a result.

We acknowledge the high cost of the head tax meant many family members were left behind in China, never to be reunited, or that families lived apart and, in some cases, in poverty, for many years.

We also recognize that our failure to truly acknowledge these historical injustices has led many in the community from seeing themselves as fully Canadian.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all Canadians and the Government of Canada, we offer a full apology to Chinese Canadians for the head tax and express our deepest sorrow for the subsequent exclusion of Chinese immigrants.

Gar nar dai doe heem.(广东话:加拿大道歉。--黄楝 注)

This apology is not about liability today:  it is about reconciliation with those who endured such hardship, and the broader Chinese-Canadian community,

One that continues to make such an invaluable contribution to our great country.

And while Canadian courts have ruled that the head tax, and immigration prohibition, were legally authorized, we fully accept the moral responsibility to acknowledge these shameful polices of our past.

For over six decades, these race-based financial measures, aimed solely at the Chinese, were implemented with deliberation by the Canadian state.

This was a grave injustice, and one we are morally obligated to acknowledge.

To give substantial meaning to today’s apology, the Government of Canada will offer symbolic payments to living head tax payers and living spouses of deceased payers.

In addition, we will establish funds to help finance community projects aimed at acknowledging the impact of past wartime measures and immigration restrictions on ethno-cultural communities.

No country is perfect.  Like all countries, Canada has made mistakes in its past, and we realize that.

Canadians, however, are a good and just people, acting when we’ve committed wrong.

And even though the head tax ? a product of a profoundly different time -- lies far in our past, we feel compelled to right this historic wrong for the simple reason that it is the decent thing to do, a characteristic to be found at the core of the Canadian soul.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, let me assure the House that this government will continually strive to ensure that similar unjust practices are never allowed to happen again.

We have the collective responsibility to build a country based firmly on the notion of equality of opportunity, regardless of one’s race or ethnic origin.

Our deep sorrow over the racist actions of our past will nourish our unwavering commitment to build a better future for all Canadians.

Thank you.
 
 



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