VANCOUVER – NDP critic for Immigration Jenny Kwan is deeply concerned that members of the Asian community are targets of racism in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the release of a video of a 92-year-old Chinese Canadian senior being assaulted in a convenience store in Vancouver East, some Asian Canadian seniors who live in the area are afraid to leave their homes. They say their family members have been verbally harassed on the street with people yelling “don’t give me your f—ing disease.”
“There has been a trend of escalating racism and racial discrimination in recent years, including animosity towards refugees. This was particularly noticeable after the Trump administration came into office,” said Kwan. “Even before COVID-19 arrived in Canada, many people were very concerned. In February, I told officials in the Ministry of Health that I was concerned that people would blame the pandemic on Asian Canadians. The government needs to fight the disease. They also need to address the rising racism people are experiencing.”
While acknowledging that people have the freedom to express their opinions, Kwan called out a Conservative MP for his recent criticism of Chief Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.
“Elected officials and the public are free to express their opinion about a public official’s performance, but the accusation that Dr. Tam is working for China is simply unfounded, irresponsible, and offensive,” said Kwan. “Mr. Sloan must apologize to Dr. Tam for his disturbing comments.”
Kwan is encouraging victims of hate crimes and racism related abuse to speak out and report the crimes to the authorities so that perpetrators can be penalized and the government can monitor the prevalence of hate crimes and work with the best information when creating a plan to stop the spread of hate.
“Unfortunately, when we face major challenges, marginalized community members can often become scapegoats – the Chinese Head Tax and the internment of Japanese Canadians during WWII are such examples,” said Kwan. “I have faith that this generation will not repeat the same mistakes. In Canada we are a vibrant, inclusive, multicultural society. By challenging hateful language, discrimination, and our unfounded biases, we can stand united to fight racism wherever it rears its head.”