Over the course of the election campaign, there's been lots of accusations of politicians saying one thing in English and another in French.
Well, this is probably the first instance of a politician saying one thing in English, and another in Mandarin.
In a statement from multiculturalism minister Jason Kenney, posted to the Conservatives' Chinese-language website, the Conservatives issued some pretty feisty challenges to his political opponents that don't quite translate to what the party says in English.
The statement was written in Chinese — the written version of Mandarin, as we learned today. VICE Canada had the statement translated and has clarified some of the language for style.
"Historically, the relationship between the Conservative Party and Chinese community is not only very close, but was established earliest, in comparison with all the other parties," the statement from the minister reads.
Kenney then goes after the Liberals and New Democrats with some pretty aggressive language.
"In terms of the closeness, the Liberals could probably argue that they also maintain a close relationship, for in the time of Pierre Trudeau, Canada established diplomatic relations with China. But we all know, that's the result of the general trend of the world politics at that time; later, under Jean Chretien, they even sent a delegation to China, and we also know, that was for trade and business purposes," the statement reads.
"It could also been said that the New Democrats are also very close with China, since the wife of the venerable former NDP leader Jack Layton is Chinese-Canadian, while the wife of MP Peter Julian is also Chinese-Canadian, there is no reason not to be close with the Chinese community," the statement reads.
"The intimacy between the Conservative Party and China, comes from the genuine good will of the Conservatives," reads the following paragraph.
VICE reached out to the campaign for Kenney to ask about the statement. When it comes to the dig at the NDP, a spokesperson for Kenney said in an email that "this just points to the fact that the NDP has established personal ties with China/Chinese community because of these personal relationships. There is nothing negative implied here. It's just setting out the context for the compare and contrast piece that follows."
The NDP is not mentioned anywhere else in the statement.
No English-language statement comes close to the shade delivered in Chinese—certainly nothing on the Conservative website suggesting that the Liberals only want to talk to the Chinese for their money or that the NDP's primary relationship to the Chinese community is through marrying their women.
Kenney's statement focuses heavily on the Harper government's decision to apologize for the Government of Canada's head tax on Chinese immigrants. The policy—introduced by John A. Macdonald in 1885—charged each Chinese immigrant $50 to enter the country.
"The first important thing our Prime Minister Stephen Harper did was to apologize to the Chinese community, on behalf of the Government of Canada, for the discriminatory policies and head tax imposed on Chinese immigrants set by the Liberals back in 1885," the statement continues. "It might be because of the historical racist and discriminatory laws were passed by their ancestors, the Liberals have been refusing to apologize to Chinese-Canadians during their governance."
When it comes to the head tax, the Kenney camp said simply, of the Liberal's refusal to apologize for the head tax: "That's a fact."
The Conservatives don't repeat that head tax line too often in public.
One statement from last week noted the head tax in passing, while criticizing the Liberals' immigration record. Immigration minister Chris Alexander went down that road in a rant following an interview with VICE Canada.
But for the Conservatives to suggest that the Liberal Party has refused to apologize to the Chinese community because of Macdonald's actions is a step beyond what they've said in English and, frankly, confounding.
Macdonald, while currently regarded as a bit of a Liberal, was the head of what was 19th century version of the Conservative Party in Canada—he was defeated by Liberal Alexander Mackenzie in 1874. Both Liberal and Conservative governments of the time hiked the fee, before finally stopping Chinese immigration altogether in 1923, under a Liberal Government—that was repealed decades later by a different Liberal administration.
Kenney's statement accuses the Chretien and Martin governments of discussing an apology for the head tax, but that they were "filled with misgiving and fear" and backed down. The statement says they were "afraid."
Read the full, unedited, translated statement below.
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The close relationship between the Conservative Party and the Chinese community
In this year's federal election, or rather, in every federal election ── especially the most recent ones — the Chinese community in British Columbia has always been among the most hotly contested ridings for all the political parties, which of course is the undeniable result of the growing number of Chinese immigrants and the more important role they become to play in the political circles.
However, this is only for the most recent years after all, if we go back to review the history, we could realize that the relationship between the Conservative Party and the Chinese is not only very close but also has been established the earliest in comparison with all the other parties.
In terms of the closeness, the Liberals could probably argue that they also maintain a close relationship, for in the time of Pierre Trudeau, Canada established diplomatic relations with China, but we all know, that's the result of the general trend of the world politics at that time; later, under Jean Chretien, they even have sent delegation to China, and we also know, that was for trade and business purposes.
It could also be said that New Democrats are also very close with China, since the wife of the venerable former NDP leader Jack Layton is Chinese Canadian, while the wife of MP Peter Julian is also Chinese Canadian, there is no reason not to be close with the Chinese community.
But the intimacy between the Conservative Party and China, (if view the political party as a human being) comes from the genuine good will of the Conservatives. Please recall with us together: Since the beginning of 2006 under the Conservative government, the first important thing our Prime Minister Stephen Harper did was to apologize to the Chinese community, on behalf of the Government of Canada, for the discriminatory policies and Head Tax imposed on Chinese immigrants set by the Liberals back in 1885. It might be because of the historical racist and discriminatory laws were passed by their ancestors, the Liberals have been refusing to apologize to their own people during their governance.
In fact, whether to apologize for the head tax to the Chinese community was discussed several times under Chrétien and Martin, but filled with misgiving and fear, they listened to some Chinese members inside the party and they didn't want, were afraid of make a formal apology. It was Harper who broke the ice in 2006, when he first came to power he spoke sincerely to all the Chinese people the phrase: "Canada, apologize".
In addition, Prime Minister Harper has visited China twice. It is worth mentioning that in early 2012, the Federal Ministry of Health announced the establishment of the Advisory Council on Traditional Chinese Medicines, which improved the status of Chinese medicine practitioners in the Canadian society. Two years later in November 2014, Harper visited China and included the tour to Hu Qing Yu Tang Chinese Medicine Museum into his agenda. If it's not for the deepest respect to the Chinese community and traditional Chinese medicine, what could it be?
In terms of the "earliest", I think, anyone who is familiar with the Canadian history should know this name: Douglas Jung.
Douglas Jung joined the Conservative Party in the early 50s (since the Liberals have passed discriminatory policies towards Chinese immigrants, Mr.Jung declared that he would not join the Liberals). In 1957, he was elected MP representing the Conservative Chinese in Vancouver, thus became the first Chinese MP in Canadian history. The federal government named a Grade A office building in downtown Vancouver after him. He also has spoken several times at the United Nations as the representative of Canada.
In his first speech in the Parliament, Douglas Jung pointed out that Canada should become a bridge between the nations in the Asian-Pacific region. This also laid foundation for the later Liberal Government's establishment of diplomatic relations with China and the close economic and trade relationship with Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The Conservative Party had four Chinese members (Alice Wong, Wai Young, Chungsen Leung and Michael Chong) and another Chinese Senator Victor Oh.The Conservatives never dare to forget the Chinese immigrants' contribution to Canada and the five outstanding Chinese conservatives also have proved that, through their efforts, Canada has become more peaceful and beautiful.
On the other hand, only with the support of the Chinese community could the Conservatives win the election and continue to lead the country to its prosperity.
By Jason Kenney
Minister of Multiculturalism