Petition push on Nanjing bill

By NA LI in TORONTO | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-01-26 06:12

Petition push on Nanjing bill

Joseph Wong (left), founder of Toronto ALPHA, along with guests (from left) MPP Soo Wong, MPP Raymond Cho, MP Shaun Chen, announce the 100,000 signature petition campaign across Ontario on Monday in Toronto.[Photo by NA LI / CHINA DAILY]

One piece of World War II history will not go forgotten, not if some people get their way.

To support Bill 79, which establishes an official Nanjing Massacre day of commemoration, Toronto ALPHA along with the Chinese community announced a drive to get 100,000 signatures on a petition across Ontario this week.

The Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day Act, proposed by MPP Soo Wong, passed its second reading last December in the Ontario Legislature.

"Bill 79 is a very important movement. It's the first bill to recognize the Nanjing Massacre in the Western Hemisphere," Joseph Wong, founder of Toronto ALPHA, said at a press conference on Monday.

"It's a very important historic event that needs commemoration," Wong added. "Canada will be the first Western country to recognize it as a true event. The atrocity is worth remembering, to learn about and be taught in schools. Hopefully this history will not be repeated."

MP Shaun Chen, who moved the motion to be passed by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) as a trustee at TDSB in 2008, recalled his feeling when he first saw the docudrama Iris Chang, the Rape of Nanjing produced by ALPHA.

"I was so blown away. Because I am a Chinese Canadian, I was born here in Canada, but when I went to the public school, I never learned this history," Chen said.

"To me it's not right. Because when you teach history, you should teach the whole history, you cannot just select the history to teach," said Chen. "This atrocity against humanity that happened was ignored. We have to teach our future generations to know the truth, to never repeat the mistakes of the past."

Bill 79 still needs a big step forward to pass the third reading before coming into force. There are still a couple of hurdles to get past, Soo Wong told China Daily at a gathering hosted by the Chinese Canadian Political Action Committee of Ontario on Saturday.

"First it is a private member bill," said Wong. "Normally, a private member bill is harder to get passed; secondly, the Japanese community doesn't support my bill, they think it is dividing the community, which is not true. This bill is about the truth."

"We are very concerned that some people over there are not telling the truth. This is about the truth, it is about the facts," she added.

"If the bill is not passed (in the third reading), I will keep working on it," Soo Wong said. "But I am hopeful the moment is right. There are lots of people across Ontario behind the petition."

The signature drive asks people to read and sign this petition, and circulate it among family and community. Soo Wong will present the signed petitions to the Ontario legislature.

"The gathering of signatures through this petition is crucial to pushing this bill through to the third reading," said Wong. "We want all Ontarians to sign the bill, to let the legislature know that Ontarians want the representatives of Queen's Park to pass the bill. We are collecting 100,000 signatures to tell the legislature that it is the wish of Ontarians to have the law passed."

Wong noted that Queen's Park only accepts hard copies of petition forms with physical signatures. No electronic copies will be accepted. Signed petitions can be mailed or brought to the ALPHA office by Feb 15.

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