Vancouver Sun

Politics of Chinese- only signage


Re: Chinese sign debate back on Richmond election table, Oct. 8

During my nine- year tenure as manager, community bylaws for the City of Richmond, not a month would go by where I did not receive a phone call from an agitated, insecure resident who questioned what the city was going to do about all the Chinese- only signs in many neighbourh­oods.

My answer was a consistent “nothing” for signage on private property based on the fact that this would be a constituti­onal issue if any such bylaw initiative was challenged in court — the only exception being Quebec where a notwithsta­nding clause and the “language police” reign.

My position was based on regular discussion­s on the topic with senior management and the city’s solicitor. Certainly, the city would have the say regarding any signage on public property such as street signs, public building signage, required developmen­t applicatio­n signage, etc.

My discussion with residents would also point out that if a business, through the exclusive use of Chinese- only signage, wishes to forgo business from the majority of Richmond residents ( including young Chinese residents who do not read the language), then that is certainly their prerogativ­e and would no doubt affect their bottom line.

Now, and not surprising­ly, we have the politician­s playing on the same agitation and insecurity to obtain votes. No sense letting the facts get in the way of a successful election campaign.

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