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Harper calls for apology to Chinese-Canadians
Updated: 2006-01-27 06:57

The Prime Minister-designate of Canada, Stephen Harper, speaks at a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Harper said that Chinese-Canadians "deserved" an apology for state-sponsored racism that sparked a century-old row. [AFP] 
Prime minister-elect Stephen Harper said that Chinese-Canadians "deserved" an apology for state-sponsored racism that sparked a century-old row.

"Chinese-Canadians are making an extraordinary impact on the building of our country. They've also made a significant historical contribution despite many obstacles," Harper said in his first address since winning a general election.

"The Chinese-Canadian community deserves an apology for the head tax and appropriate acknowledgment and redress. On this occasion, I would like to take the opportunity to wish all Canadians of Chinese descent a healthy and prosperous New Year," he said

The Chinese New Year starts Sunday.

Prior to 1930, more than 80,000 Chinese immigrants were forced to pay a special tax to enter Canada, of as much as 500 Canadian dollars (US$433), or two years' salary.

Now, their descendants want redress for the tax, which was imposed only on people from China by officials scared by a massive wave of immigration.

Long-time protests against the measures reached deafening levels during the election campaign, 125 years after they began, as candidates mined for votes among the country's one million Chinese-Canadians.

Many politicians have already personally apologized or promised to apologize for the head tax.

However, many Chinese-Canadians want those elected to formally stand up in Parliament to issue a formal apology and offer victims and their families compensation.

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