Today government introduced a new Discriminatory Provisions (Historical Wrongs) Repeal Act to permanently remove discriminatory provisions in historical private legislation.
This follows through on a commitment made in 2014 by Premier Christy Clark to review discriminatory legislation as part of government’s pledge to address historical wrongs committed by past provincial governments against Chinese Canadians.
Over the past year, the Province reviewed nearly 2,000 pieces of legislation dated from 1871, the year that British Columbia joined Confederation, to 1982, the year the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was introduced, to remove historical provisions (in legislation) that were discriminatory on the basis of ethnicity or place of origin.
While the 'Chinese Legacy BC: Legislation Review Report' released today outlines how the vast majority of B.C. laws are free from discrimination and that new B.C. laws must conform to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the report also identifies 19 obscure historical private acts that contain discriminatory provisions.
The legislation review reinforces the fact that all British Columbians have a high degree of constitutional and legislated human rights protection. At the time the discriminatory provincial legislation was enacted, there was no federal, provincial or international human rights legislation in existence, nor had the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms been enacted.
On May 15, 2014, the entire legislative assembly apologized for discriminatory and racist legislation enacted by past provincial governments in British Columbia against its Chinese Canadian community. The recommendations outlined in the Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultation final report tabled at the time of the historic apology received unanimous endorsements from all members of the House.
Findings of the legislation review were published in a report issued today and available online: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/our-history/historic-places/documents/heritage/chinese-legacy/legislation_review-report_final.pdf
Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism –
“Some of the legislation discovered during the legislative review is reflective of a dark time in British Columbia’s history. This review and subsequent legislation provides an opportunity to support the healing process and acknowledge the tremendous contributions Chinese Canadians and other ethnic groups have made to the social and economic development of this province.”
Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice –
“This move will serve as part of the symbolic effort to address historical wrongs and help to close this painful chapter in B.C. history. While the provisions contained in 19 obscure private acts could not be used to legally discriminate against present-day British Columbians, they will be repealed during this session of the legislature.”
Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness –
“Nearly three years ago, I was proud to stand beside my colleagues in the B.C. legislature during the historic apology to Chinese Canadians, and in 2012, I was honoured to introduce a motion in the legislature to apologize for the internment of Japanese Canadians in B.C. during and following World War II. Today, I am incredibly proud to once again stand beside my colleagues as action is taken to remove discrimination from laws enacted during a shameful period in British Columbia’s historical narrative.”
George Ing, Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council member –
“Many people were affected by racist laws in this province, but the legislation review and the new legislation to repeal discriminatory content are key steps in the healing process. It is important that all British Columbians are protected from racism and discrimination and that the terrible policies and laws that Chinese Canadians and other ethnic groups were forced to follow many years ago are permanently removed from the record so they can’t hurt anyone else.”
- The Legislation Review project is one of several legacy projects that are the result and inspiration of the Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultations, where many participants advocated the preservation of Chinese Canadian cultural history.
- The purpose of the legacy projects is to commemorate the apology in the legislature on May 15, 2014, and to celebrate the achievements Chinese Canadians have made to the history, culture and economic prosperity of British Columbia.
- The B.C. government’s implementation of recommendations in the Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultation Final Report has been guided with advice from the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council (LIAC).
- The LIAC works with Chinese Canadian communities and other key partners to ensure that legacy projects are known and communicated throughout the province.
Chinese legacy projects: http://www.gov.bc.ca/ChineseLegacyBC
Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultation Final Report and Recommendations: www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/downloads/Chinese_Consultation.pdf