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加华百年屈辱的政治考量

(2006-06-24 01:16:59)
分类: 说三道四
加华百年屈辱的政治考量  
 
   昨日(6月22日),加拿大华人终于等来政府就人头税问题的道歉,虽然正义迟到了太久太久,但这个历史性的日子值得庆贺,它标志着加拿大华人百年屈辱的终结,加拿大历史上黑暗的一章终于翻过。
  
   昨天与一位国会议员共进晚餐时,我直接了当地向他挑战:为什么前几任政府迟迟不能解决的死结,到了保守党的哈珀手里就迎刃而解了呢?要知道哈珀政府才上台几个月啊,这甚至让我产生一种期待或幻觉 - 低效率,这个“最适宜于人类居住的国家”的癌症有药可救了?
 
   他的回答不出所料,即他所在的前任政府实际上为人头税问题的解决做了大量艰苦努力,最终在听取专家意见的基础上为了避免连锁反应的国家赔偿风险而没能迈出突破性的一步(即正式道歉),新政府不顾风险快刀斩乱麻当然有兑现竞选承诺和收买人心的考虑,长远来说未必是最合适的。
 
   从这位试图东山再起的政治家脸上,我看到了一丝难于察觉的无奈和后悔。平反歧视性人头税这样一个流芳百世的壮举,本来是他在设计和运作的,他的解释中多多少少强调了当时天时地利人和皆不到位,但笔者认为最主要的原因是上届执政党陷落在多年的权力宝座里而缺乏担当风险的胆识及危机感,使得历史的机遇失之交臂!
 
   还记得MBA老师的教导:失败者爱找客观原因,成功者强调主观因素。真理呀。
 
   大多数中国人远离政治。其实政治对我们的生计太重要了,政治事关国家治理,事关利益分配,事关是非曲直。我估计大多数人(包括我)远离政治的原因大概不是真的讨厌它,而是缺乏知识或无能为力。
 
   隐约地我也感到了,政治确实矛盾重重,甚至扑朔迷离,而且经常显得残酷无情。我进一步大胆地设想,一个善良的人变成政治家之后,要么想开了难得糊涂,要么想不开疯掉了。在厚颜与疯子之间,你会做什么样的选择呢?
 
*** 下面是多维社关于人头税的报道 ***
 
6月22日,加拿大总理哈珀在国会就被“极不公平”的种族歧视性人头税和实行24年的排华法案,正式向全体加拿大华人道歉。法新社评论称,加总理当天向华人做出一个里程碑式的道歉。路透社说,加政府正式向华人道歉并把人头税称为一个历史错误和“我们过去的种族歧视行动”。加通社指出,对于那些健在的幸存者来说,政府的道歉已让他们等待了许久。
 
加东时间6月22日下午3时,加拿大总理哈珀向全体华人兑现了他在半年前参加大选时的承诺,就一个世纪前的人头税和排华法案,在国会举行的仪式上进行正式道歉。
我代表加拿大人民和政府,我们向曾经遭受人头税和排华法案屈辱的华人,表达我们最深切的遗憾。”哈珀接着在议会宣布:“作出今天的具有本质意义的道歉,加拿大政府将向那些健在的人头税交纳者和已过世的纳税人的配偶进行象征性的赔偿。”
 
*** 以下是哈珀为人头税的道歉全文,供英语爱好者收藏 ***
 
Address by the Prime Minister on the Chinese Head Tax Redress
22 June 2006
Ottawa, Ontario

Notes for an Address by
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to formally turn the page on an unfortunate period in Canada's past.
 
One during which a group of people - who only sought to build a better life - was repeatedly and deliberately singled out for unjust treatment.
 
I speak, of course, of the head tax that was imposed on Chinese immigrants to this country, as well as the other restrictive measures that followed.
 
The Canada we know today would not exist were it not for the efforts of the Chinese labourers who began to arrive in the mid-nineteenth century.
 
Almost exclusively young men, these immigrants made the difficult decision to leave their families behind in order to pursue opportunities in a country halfway around the world they called “gold mountain.”
 
Beginning in 1881, over 15,000 of these Chinese pioneers became involved in the most important nation-building enterprise in Canadian history – the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
 
From the shores of the St. Lawrence, across the seemingly endless expanses of shield and prairie, climbing the majestic Rockies, and cutting through the rugged terrain of British Columbia,
– This transcontinental link was the ribbon of steel that bound our fledgling country together.
 
It was an engineering feat –one for which the back-breaking toil of Chinese labourers was largely responsible-
– That was instrumental to the settlement of the West and the subsequent development of the Canadian economy.
 
The conditions under which these men worked were at best harsh, and at times impossible: tragically, some one thousand Chinese labourers died building the CPR.
 
But in spite of it all, these Chinese immigrants persevered, and in doing so, helped to ensure the future of Canada.
 
But from the moment that the railway was completed, Canada turned its back on these men.
 
Beginning with the Chinese Immigration Act of 1885, a head tax of $50 was imposed on Chinese newcomers in an attempt to deter immigration.
 
Not content with the tax’s effect, the government subsequently raised the amount to $100 in 1900, and then to $500 – the equivalent of two years' wages – in 1903.
 
This tax remained in place until 1923, when the government amended the Chinese Immigration Act and effectively banned most Chinese immigrants until 1947.
 
Similar legislation existed in the Dominion of Newfoundland, which also imposed a head tax between 1906 and 1949, when Newfoundland joined Confederation.
 
The Government of Canada recognizes the stigma and exclusion experienced by the Chinese as a result.
 
We acknowledge the high cost of the head tax meant many family members were left behind in China, never to be reunited, or that families lived apart and, in some cases, in poverty, for many years.
 
We also recognize that our failure to truly acknowledge these historical injustices has led many in the community from seeing themselves as fully Canadian.
 
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all Canadians and the Government of Canada, we offer a full apology to Chinese Canadians for the head tax and express our deepest sorrow for the subsequent exclusion of Chinese immigrants.
 
Gar nar dai doe heem. (注:广东话音 - 加拿大道歉)
 
This apology is not about liability today: it is about reconciliation with those who endured such hardship, and the broader Chinese-Canadian community, –One that continues to make such an invaluable contribution to our great country.
 
And while Canadian courts have ruled that the head tax, and immigration prohibition, were legally authorized, we fully accept the moral responsibility to acknowledge these shameful polices of our past.
 
For over six decades, these race-based financial measures, aimed solely at the Chinese, were implemented with deliberation by the Canadian state.
 
This was a grave injustice, and one we are morally obligated to acknowledge.
 
To give substantial meaning to today’s apology, the Government of Canada will offer symbolic payments to living head tax payers and living spouses of deceased payers.
 
In addition, we will establish funds to help finance community projects aimed at acknowledging the impact of past wartime measures and immigration restrictions on ethno-cultural communities.
 
No country is perfect. Like all countries, Canada has made mistakes in its past, and we realize that.
 
Canadians, however, are a good and just people, acting when we’ve committed wrong.
 
And even though the head tax – a product of a profoundly different time -- lies far in our past, we feel compelled to right this historic wrong for the simple reason that it is the decent thing to do, a characteristic to be found at the core of the Canadian soul.
 
Mr. Speaker, in closing, let me assure the House that this government will continually strive to ensure that similar unjust practices are never allowed to happen again.
 
We have the collective responsibility to build a country based firmly on the notion of equality of opportunity, regardless of one's race or ethnic origin.
 
Our deep sorrow over the racist actions of our past will nourish our unwavering commitment to build a better future for all Canadians.
 
Thank you.

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