Statement from Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre on the Anniversary of the Chinese Head Tax Apology

June 22, 2023

Ottawa, ON — The Hon. Pierre Poilievre, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and the Official Opposition, released the following statement on the anniversary of the federal government’s apology for the Chinese Head Tax: 

“For over six decades, the Canadian federal government pursued racist policies with the explicit intention of preventing Chinese immigrants from making their way to Canada.  

“In the early 1880s, Canada allowed over 15,000 Chinese labourers to come to Canada to help build the Canada Pacific Railway. However, after exploiting the dedicated hard work of thousands of immigrants, who often worked in horrible conditions, the government betrayed them.  

“In 1885, an expensive head tax was imposed on new immigrants from China, making it virtually impossible for families to reunite here in Canada. After escalating the cost of the tax twice, Chinese immigration was eventually blocked altogether when the government passed the Chinese Immigration Act, also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, in 1923. It remained in place for another 24 years. 

“Canadians today are deeply ashamed of this dark chapter of our history. In 2006, the Conservative government under Prime Minister Harper offered an apology and took action in an effort to answer, in some small way, for this injustice. On the anniversary of this apology, we acknowledge those who were wronged and honour the countless contributions that Chinese Canadians have made to our country.  

“Today, 100 years after the shameful passage of the Chinese Immigration Act more than 1.8 million people of Chinese origin live in Canada. They are a central part of Canada’s rich cultural tapestry, and have played a crucial role in building the country we all love and call home. As we reflect today on this profound blessing, let us all commit to bringing home a country that is a beacon of freedom for all.”