Ottawa, ON – The Hon. Candice Bergen, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and the Official Opposition, released the following statement on the anniversary of the Government of Canada’s apology for the Chinese Head Tax:

“In the late 1800s, over 17,000 Chinese labourers were welcomed into Canada to work on the iconic Canadian Pacific Railway. However, in a cruel reversal, once the railway was complete the Government of Canada imposed the Chinese Head Tax to drastically limit any further Chinese immigration to Canada.

“Beginning at $50 in 1885, the Head Tax quickly escalated to $500 in 1903 – the equivalent of two years’ worth of wages. In 1923, Canada effectively banned Chinese immigration altogether.

“Sadly, it took many years for the Government of Canada to recognize their mistreatment of Chinese immigrants, and finally take steps to make amends for this wrongdoing. Sixteen years ago today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered an official apology on behalf of the government to those who were forced to pay the Head Tax. This apology also extended to all Chinese-Canadians who have been profoundly impacted by the legacy of these racist policies.

“Today, Canada is home to 1.8 million Chinese-Canadians, making up over 5 per cent of our population. Since Canada re-opened to Chinese immigration in 1947, Chinese-Canadians have made countless contributions to our country. As we commemorate the anniversary of the government’s apology, I encourage all Canadians to learn more about the ways that this incredible community has blessed our country.”