The B.C. Liberals are setting  to offer an apology to voters for the Chinese head tax only a few weeks before the provincial election campaign is set to begin.

A leaked government document characterizes an apology as a “quick win” for Liberals who are struggling to increase their percentage of the ethnic vote.

John Yap, the Minister of State for Multiculturalism met with reporters on Wednesday and said “A lot of work and consultation with the community has been going on and I look forward to bringing forward an apology motion,”.

B.C. NDP opposition members acquired  a 17-page “multicultural outreach” planning document, a Liberal government plan to increase their appeal within ethnic voter communities.

Premier Christy Clark’s office and caucus were directed to work with key members of her B.C. Liberal Party to develop government policy, political messaging and crucial election databases in the plan. The NDP’s meaningful engagement with ethnic communities being the Liberals main concern in the plan and their “need to catch up.”


“What we object to, and what we think British Columbians would object to, is their tax dollars being used to prop up the B.C. Liberal election machinery. And I can’t tell you how wrong that is,” NDP House Leader John Horgan told reporters after raising the issue in Question Period.

Yap replied to the questions of miss use of government resources by saying  “Since coming into the role (he was not Minister when the plan was initiated), we did not follow through with some of the ideas because we felt we could do things differently and actually get good results,” .


The plan was simple, find quick ways to garner support for the party with “minorities” .  The plan looked at  “historical wrongs” that could become “quick wins” as the election draws closer.


The Chinese head tax (the fee that Chinese immigrants were made to pay before entering Canada between 1885 and 1923) was an easy choice for the Liberals when considering the large Chinese community in British Columbia.

Bill Chu, chair of the Canadians for Reconciliation Society, said the Liberals are making a mistake if they roll out an election-eve apology for the racist tax.

“They don’t understand what they are apologizing for. And the public needs to understand it – that’s important,” Mr. Chu said in an interview. “This is an insult to anyone studying history. You don’t create this for an election.”


The plan was circulated via private e-mails, but it ties government appointees into a clearly political objective. The constant message to “make sure government, caucus and the party are all working toward the same goal and in a co-ordinated and effective manner” and to “improve our chances of winning swing ridings by better engaging supporters from ethnic communities and getting them involved at the riding level” seems pretty clear what the real objectives were.

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