Activists rebuff premier's apology for ethnic strategy
Chinese community activists rejected Premier Christy Clark's apology Friday for a leaked document that strategized "quick wins" from ethnic voters, calling it insincere.
"An apology is good only if it's timely and sincere, and the current government's offer of an apology is unfortunately neither timely nor does it appear to be sincere," said Tommy Tao at a morning press conference in Richmond.
Tao, a lawyer and community activist, applauded the federal Conservative government's apology for the head tax, but lamented the B.C. Liberal government's plan to address the history of Chinese Canadians in B.C. appears to be an attempt to win votes.
"For the Liberal government now toward the end of its term to try and deal with this issue it's difficult to appear to be sincere. It's so obvious."
On Thursday the premier issued a statement apologizing for an internal document that describes using government staff to improve her party's standing with ethnic communities. Deputy premier Rich Coleman promised a swift investigation—the results of which were expected by today.
Bill Chu, chairperson for Canadians for Reconciliation Society, said his non-partisan group has been asking for an apology on behalf of the Chinese community for five years. Chu has also long called for protection to Chinese heritage sites in B.C.
"We are concerned that (when) it happens so close to election time, we feel that first of all there's a lack of sincerity, and secondly it's almost immoral when on one hand they seem to be showing respect for our community, on the other hand they're digging up our heritage sites," he said.
Chu characterized government actions as an attempt to manipulate the "entire multicultural community" that "shows the kind of colonial mindset that was very prevalent way back."
"This is why her apology yesterday to me is not acceptable, because that document came from her office and she cannot say she was not aware of it."
Pages and pages of discriminatory legislation have been passed by the province in its history, said Chu. Reconciliation should acknowledge that history and educate the public to create a communal sense of remorse.
"Reconciliation is far more than what the government is portraying that to be. Reconciliation between two groups of people is never about a simple apology."
Thekla Lit echoed Chu, saying a sincere apology requires the acknowledgement of historical facts.
"If they really want to offer an apology, it should be done because it is right and not done because it can get votes," said Lit, founder of Canada Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia. "It's totally immoral."
Hanson Lau, a former broadcaster who hosted the press conference at his Richmond travel
agency, said the government is allowing bulldozers to disturb Chinese mining sites in B.C.'s Interior, and the Liberals won't get his vote unless these sites are protected.
"They came out with an ethnic strategy. We will follow that strategy, which is we will use our vote and let them know we don't like it. That's our message to the community—not only to the Chinese, but to all Canadians. In B.C. we want our history preserved."