Monday, 19 May 2014

Why Apologize For A Head Tax When We Need Another One?: How The Chinese Were The TFWs of Yesteryear.

If annual awards were given out for "Ethnic Vote Grovelling Politician of the Year" B.C. premier Christy Clark would be a front runner. (Now that I think about it I think we should get an award running and present it to the winner merely as an act of protest if not disgust. Canada's largest province and city are in the midst of election campaigns and promise to produce a bounty of potential nominations this year. The competition could be fierce.)

I don't think anyone is stupid enough to believe - even those for whom this apology is directed at - that the apology this mediocre woman gave is sincere (she lost her seat in the last election but was given a second chance by running in a by-election in a "sure-bet" riding). Christy Clark is desperate for a political career and the ethnic vote scandal pretty much forced her to apologize if only as a publicity stunt to announce to all ethnic groups in B.C. that she's their woman in Victoria. And even though they may not believe her it's enough to know that they command enough power that when they ask a politician to jump they jump and that's the point of these demands.

But while she embarrasses herself and sensible British Columbians as a whole we shouldn't be apologizing for the head tax at all. In truth, we should be demanding another one. And I'm not the only one who thinks so.

The parallels between the cheap Chinese labour of yesteryear and the TFW scandals of today cannot be ignored.

The main target of the head tax were those being imported as indentured servants by landed Chinese in the province that modern parlance calls "snake heads." They enriched themselves by exploiting the desperation of their countrymen back in China by importing them into Canada as indentured servants all the while undercutting domestic Canadian labour in the province through the cheap labour on offer by these Chinese immigrants. Canadians were on the losing end of this unethical arrangement yet Canada has to apologize for acting in a way to protect its citizens from its negative effects. Welcome to the New Canada!

Fast forward to today and replace Chinese migrant labourer with TFW and snakehead with (insert company name here) and you have the same situation one hundred years later.

Suggestions put forward to tackle the TFW scandal include demanding a premium on each TFW to increasing application fees for each TFW and increasing fees for a LMO (Labour Market Opinion needed to justify the importation of a TFW) as financial disincentives to importing foreign workers. While not being called a head tax the intended effects are the same: make it financially inconvenient to import foreign labour so that a domestic labour force is favoured and their standard of living isn't undermined; foreign workers would only be sought in extreme cases.

If the Chinese feel they were being singled out at the time it's because they were the main cause of the problem. Today it's not just the Chinese but a broader grouping under the TFW program. And like the Chinese then TFWs are a problem now.

But then again what is the problem? Over 90% of the Chinese in Canada arrived after the post-WWII period anyway and have been doing so with a colonizing vengeance. They don't seem to care to integrate, back Chinese politicians, and have pushed real estate prices into bubble territory in Canada's major housing markets through speculative buying sprees. They haven't been much of an economic boon to the country - that is if you don't count condo construction projects and their negligible short-term economic benefits - and those that were supposed to be a boon turned out to be a bust. If they're not spying on us, they're stealing from us or getting us hooked. And in their free-time they act like assholes, lie to us, and take advantage of us. But hey, they're proud Canadians. That's why there's 350,000 of them in Hong Kong working and not paying taxes in Canada to support the very social programs they and their settled families expect to benefit from.

Perhaps its Canada that deserves the apology but if apologies are what they're looking for then why stop at Canada? Maybe they should hunt down the descendants of the Chinese snakeheads who exploited them in the first place and seek reparations but something tells that that will never happen. No political advantage to be had in that.

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