House of Commons Hansard #123 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rights.

Topics

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I do not think the Speaker wants to get into a position where he has to monitor every member's comings and goings. I will point out that if a member's movements are causing disruption, if at the time a member wants to bring it to my attention, I can certainly have a word with the member who is causing the disruption.

We will maybe see how it progresses after the member has raised the point.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

Canadian Chinese Community
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate an important anniversary in the history of our Parliament and of the pioneers of Canada's Chinese community.

Sixty-five years ago today, Parliament repealed the Chinese Immigration Act, also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act. In doing so, it brought an end to generations of unjust discrimination against people of Chinese origin.

In 1923, the Chinese Exclusion Act was introduced by the government of William Lyon Mackenzie King after $23 million in head tax revenues from Chinese immigrants to Canada had been collected in the proceeding 50 years. This unjust law prevented anyone from China from emigrating to Canada.

Chinese men, who had already faced two decades of stigma, remained separated from their families and were denied the rights of subjects of the Crown. This was unworthy of our country, considering particularly that many of these men had helped to unite the Dominion in building one of the most dangerous sections of the Canadian Pacific Railroad through the Rocky Mountains.

Despite these injustices, the Chinese remained steadfastly loyal to Canada. During the Second World War, a patriotic generation of Chinese Canadians volunteered for the Canadian military. Serving bravely, they were generally not put into action until late in the war when the British recruited them into the special operations executive. They served with honour overseas in defending the freedom and defeating fascism and Japanese imperialism.

Douglas Jung was one of the most distinguished volunteers. The dedicated service of men like Jung forced the government to put an end to its unfair policies on May 24, 1947, when Parliament repealed the Chinese Immigration Act.

Today marks the 65th anniversary of that historic moment. On June 22, 2006, our government helped draw to a close this sombre chapter in our history when the Prime Minister issued a formal apology for the head tax and expressed his deepest regrets.

Since then, the government has issued ex gratia symbolic payments to living head tax payers and widows of head tax payers.

Through the community historical recognition program, our government has also approved some $4.5 million of projects that are intended to recognize the injustice that Chinese Canadians faced through the head tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act.

In June 1957, Douglas Jung became the first Canadian member of Parliament of Asian and Chinese origin. He subsequently represented Canada at the United Nations. We pay tribute today to his spirit and to the spirits of all those who rose up with dignity and overcame decades of unjust discrimination against people of Chinese and Asian origin. A federal building in Vancouver was named the Douglas Jung Building in 2007 to commemorate their struggle for equality before the law.

In his maiden speech in this place, Douglas Jung said:

While those of us in the Conservative party will take particular pleasure in my election, which election will refute any argument that this party has been discriminatory to certain groups in the past, I am sure that hon. members on both sides will rejoice that we in this country have a system of government that does not extol its virtues by fanfare, but by expressing our belief in our principles by deeds and not words.

On this day, the 65th anniversary, let us all call to mind those who overcame adversity to help build a Canada that is an example to the world of freedom, democracy and equality for all.

Canadian Chinese Community
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I join my hon. colleague in marking the 65th anniversary of the repeal of Canada's discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act when Chinese immigrants were finally granted the right to become Canadian citizens.

As the official opposition, we recognize the important struggles the Chinese community has had to confront in becoming Canadian citizens and we must say thanks to the early Chinese Canadian pioneers who helped build this nation despite the hardships they were forced to face, such as the Chinese head tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act.

The Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited Chinese immigration for more than a generation. Only a handful of Chinese were allowed to enter Canada during this period, which spanned the Great Depression and the Second World War. The sons and daughters of the head tax payers were also directly affected by this legislation and experienced poverty, racism, family separation and lost educational opportunities.

On June 22, 2006, after years of advocacy from the Chinese Canadian community, the Government of Canada finally offered a formal apology for the head tax and expressed deep regret for the injustice and discrimination it represented.

I want to take this opportunity to thank a couple of people whose tireless advocacy helped make this historic apology a reality. The first is my hon. colleague from Trinity—Spadina. In the early 1980s, as an assistant to NDP MP Dan Heap, she helped to launch the campaign to seek an apology and compensation from the federal government on the shameful anti-immigrant Chinese head tax and Chinese Exclusion Act and she continues to be a powerful advocate in the House for Chinese Canadians.

I also want to acknowledge the role our late leader, the hon. Jack Layton, played in advocating for an apology and redress for this tremendous injustice. A statement from the Chinese Canadian National Council stated:

As a City Councillor and Member of Parliament, Mr. Layton tirelessly supported numerous social justice issues. In particular, he...supported...the Chinese Canadian community in our decades long campaign for redress of the Chinese head tax and Chinese Exclusion Act at its most challenging moments.

Mr. Layton told the House on that occasion, “This is important not just for the head tax survivors, but for all Canadians, who will now see that justice has been done”.

As most members know, New Democrats had pushed for an apology and redress for over 20 years since the current member for Vancouver East and former MPs, Margaret Mitchell of Vancouver and Dan Heap, demanded justice and reconciliation on behalf of head tax payers in their ridings and across this country. Since that time, tragically, before an apology could be issued, most of the head tax payers died.

The redress offered to head tax payers was not as comprehensive as we would have liked since the children have not been directly compensated. Children were greatly harmed. In many cases, children were separated from their fathers for decades. The effects emotionally, socially, culturally, economically and personally are incalculable. New Democrats continue to call for a more comprehensive refund for victims of the head tax.

It is important that by remembering our past we commit not to repeat our mistakes. Sixty-five years ago we ended a sad chapter of discrimination. We finally acknowledged that it was wrong to exploit foreign labour and deny citizenship in this cruel way. Today, we bring in thousands of temporary foreign workers who will be allowed to make 15% less than Canadian workers. They will be denied family reunification and the right to stay in Canada.

As the official opposition, New Democrats believe that, much like the Chinese who came to build our railroads and unite our country, if one is good enough to work here one is good enough to stay.

I am thankful for the opportunity to join with members across the House to mark the end of this sad chapter in our history and to commit to fight the injustices of today.

Canadian Chinese Community
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, I would like to put this into a context.

During the early 1880s, about 15,000 labourers were brought from China. They were used to build the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1878, the B.C. government passed a law that attempted to prevent Chinese people from immigrating. It was ruled illegal. However, a few years later, our first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, passed the Chinese Immigration Act of 1885. That was the law that created the Chinese head tax, which almost accomplished what the B.C. government and many labour leaders at the time were wanting to see happen, which was to prevent Chinese people from immigrating to Canada. This all led to the Government of Canada, back in 1923, passing in Parliament what is best known as the Chinese Exclusion Act. The new law replaced the head tax and stayed in place until the Mackenzie King government repealed the law on May 14, 1947.

The head tax of 1885 was wrong. The Chinese Exclusion Act was wrong. We all need to reflect on how those decisions made back then hurt us as a people and as a nation today.

Here, in celebration of the 65th anniversary, we need to recognize that Canada's Chinese community has contributed in every way to our social and economic development. From coast to coast to coast and from urban settings to rural, we see that the Chinese community is second to no other community in terms of the way of life and the lifestyle that we have and celebrate today. It is with those comments we stand in recognition of the 65th anniversary.

Canadian Chinese Community
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I request unanimous consent to be able to speak to this issue on behalf of the party I represent.

Canadian Chinese Community
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent?

Canadian Chinese Community
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yes.

No.

Canadian Chinese Community
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

There is no consent.

The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska has the floor.

Canadian Chinese Community
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I strongly disagree with the decision that was just made. I heard Conservative members refuse to allow the Leader of the Green Party to speak, even though she is from British Columbia where there is a large Asian and Chinese community.

Any member of a political party in this House should be allowed to speak, especially since the minister said that, in the past, his party had been unfairly accused of not being open to immigration.

I do not understand why everyone cannot pay tribute to this 65th anniversary. In Quebec, especially Montreal, there is a large Chinese community that makes a big—

Canadian Chinese Community
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. Does the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska have the unanimous consent of the House to respond?

Canadian Chinese Community
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canadian Chinese Community
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

There is no consent.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to Bill C-309, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (concealment of identity). The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with an amendment.

Procedure and House Affairs
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

May 14th, 2012 / 3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 23rd and the 24th reports of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, both regarding memberships to the committee of the House. If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in both the 23rd and 24th reports later today.