News Views: Say anything

Former B.C. Premier and ex-MP Ujjal Dosanjh now thinks official apologies are wrong.

Former B.C. Premier and ex-MP Ujjal Dosanjh doesn’t think the current provincial government should apologize for the federal head tax charged to Chinese immigrants from 1885 to 1923.

Not because B.C. shouldn’t be sorry, just that politicians need to stop playing games.

Official apologies are wrong, he believes now.

They strengthen the urge for identity politics – us versus them.

They encourage pandering by politicians.

They don’t help, tearing societies apart rather than bringing them closer together.

Mr. Dosanjh, as an NDP MLA in the 1990s, campaigned for the federal government to apologize for the Chinese head tax. Then as a Liberal MP and cabinet minister in 2006, he helped then-prime minster Paul Martin make a historic apology.

But Mr. Dosanjh claims to have evolved since, and now opposes such apologies.

Doug Bing, Liberal candidate in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows riding, disagrees. His grandfather, father and aunt were charged a head tax in the early 1900s. He thinks an apology is important, to right a historical wrong, to encourage inclusiveness.

Premier Christy Clark has put off a decision on an official apology after a document was leaked, outlining a Liberal strategy to target ethnic voters in the May 14 election.

Mr. Dosanjh says all political parties do so, that the Liberal memo was no big deal.

The mistake the Liberals made, he added, was mixing government money with partisan purposes.

The provincial NDP is being accused of doing the same, taking more than $200,000 from constituency office budgets to pay for partisan activities conducted by MLAs.

Given such shenanigans, what good would another apology do?

What would it mean other than politicians are willing to say anything to get elected?

Mr. Dosanjh is speaking out now because?

In the end, all that’s been accomplished is an erosion of trust.

–  Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

Maple Ridge News