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Canadian province apologizes for historical wrongs against Chinese immigrants


05-22-2014 14:32 BJT

The western Canadian province of British Columbia has formally apologized to China for historical wrongs against Chinese immigrants.

Premier Christy Clark apologized for the discriminatory legislation and racist policies enacted by past provincial governments. She said that Canadian-Chinese have made prominent contributions to Canada’s economic and cultural development.

"Today, this racist discrimination is seen by British Columbians, represented by all members in this legislation assembly, as unacceptable and intolerable. We believe this formal apology is required to ensure that closure can be reached on this dark hour in our province’s history," Clark said on May 15, after the provincial legislature unanimously passed the apology motion in Victoria, the provincial capital.

In 1871, the British Columbia legislature passed an act to deny the vote to Chinese and other non-whites. Discrimination was systemic, extending throughout economic, social and political life. That discriminatory policy was not ended until 1947.

In the 1880s, some 15,000 Chinese workers helped build the Canadian Pacific Railways that run across the country, but after the completion of the project, a discriminatory tax was imposed on Chinese immigrants.

On June 22, 2006, then Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially apologized for the tax. British Columbia is the first province to make such an apology.

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