William James Roche (Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of the Interior)
Was there not some recent change in regard to the admission of Chinese students?
There is legislation in contemplation at the instance of the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Macdonald), who brought this matter up before the adjournment of the House in February. That hon.
intense in their efforts to prevent any immigration from the Far East into their province. My hon. friend knows what an outcry was raised against the late Government because, forsooth, that Government was not for a white British Columbia. I see some hon. members here from British Columbia. They know what the policy is to-day, to pave the way for Hindu immigration into British Columbia, and yet not a sound is heard from them. Surely the minister must have received from those representatives very loud and strong protests against this new departure. The Hindus are going to come in; they are going to bring their wives with them-
Is that the case?
-and the white labourer will be at the mercy of our new fellow-British citizens of that vast country of India.
Where did my hon. friend get all that information?
I got it from reading the report of the Imperial Conference.
My hon. friend had better read it again and read it correctly.
The report has not been laid upon the Table, but I know enough to say that this policy is to be encouraged, and as you have admitted India into the councils of the Empire, surely India is not going to sit silent and to be refused admission into the British dominions. The Government knows more than I do, and I would like to know what their policy is on this question.
I am afraid the ,hon.
member has formulated a policy for himself on a newspaper report. I did not so understand what I read. I have not had the opportunity of discussing the matter with the Prime Minister, but I understand that at the conference certain proposals were made by the representatives of the various governments. Those proposals were not laid down as a policy, nor have they been acted upon by any government; they were simply to be referred to the respective governments for consideration, and they have not even been considered by .this Government. So that when the hon. member talks about the Government permitting the almost indiscriminate immigration of Hindus into British Columbia, he is drawing pretty largely upon his imagination, for no such policy
has been decided upon, and consequently no protests have been heard. I think it will be time enough for the British Columbia members to protest when they realize there is something tangible to protest against. There is undoubtedly a feeling in British Columbia against indiscriminate Oriental immigration. There are comparatively few Hindus in British Columbia at the present time. A few years ago there were from 5,000 to 6,000, but many of them have gone to their own country or to California, and now there are not more than 2,000 in that province.
In making his announcement to the House as to the proceedings of the Imperial Conference, I was surprised to hear the Prime Minister say, if my memory does not deceive me, that a resolution was passed that India should be represented at future conferences on the same basis as the other dominions, and that he had moved or agreed to an arrangement whereby the rights of Hindus in Canada would be measured by the rights accorded Canadians in India. Now that seems to be going very far towards assuming a direction and authority that certainly should not be assumed lightly, and which in my humble judgment should not be put forward except through this Parliament of Canada. The question of Oriental immigration has been serious in Canada in years past, and if the Prime Minister truly expressed the attitude of this new cabinet of the Empire towards the subject of Hindu immigration into Canada, I would say that our position will be very much more dangerous in the future than it has been in the past. I say nothing against the people of China, or Japan or of India. Their civilizations are older than ours. For them their civilizations may be better than ours. But they are not ours. Our civilization suits us just as their civilization suits them, I suppose. Our purpose in this country is to establish firmly, to build up and improve our civilization according to our best ideals, and we can only do that by retaining the control and direction of affairs in our own country so that we may direct them in the interests and up-building of that civilization. If, in dealing with those older civilizations which come amongst us, our hands are tied by Imperial authority, then we are handicapped in the purpose we had in view in establishing ourselves in this country. We claim that this Empire of ours is the most perfect fruit of the civilization of which we are a part. Our claim is that it stands to-
day at the head of white civilization. It can only retain that position by being maintained by a white civilization, and that white civilization must be maintained in the self-governing dominions of the Empire, or this Empire cannot be maintained finally and completely as a white man's empire. There may from time to time be occasions when it seems for the moment to conduce to the welfare of the Empire to permit the projection of this Oriental civilization into the white civilization of this or that or the other dominion, but under no possible circumstances can it be for the ultimate welfare of the Empire to permit that projection of these Oriental civilizations.
We have here a country of vast extent, of marvellous resources, of tremendous possibilities, with a population of 8,000,000. Our Pacific province is just as well suited for occupation and exploitation by the people of China and Japan as by ourselves, and it is approximately just as well suited for occupation and exploitation by the people of India as by ourselves. There are 300,000,000 people in India, 400,000,000 in China, and from 40,000,000 to 50,000,000 in Japan. To permit the movement of people from any or all of these countries into Canada at their individual will or wish could, and ultimately, we may say, would, under certain circumstances, mean the submergence of white civilization, certainly in our Pacific province, and I see no reason why not from one end of the Dominion to the other, without the drain being noticed in either one of these three Oriental countries. A successful policy of peaceful penetration is conquest and destruction just as much as occupation by force of arms; and if we do not, as a country, and as an Empire, recognize that fact, then we are building for nothing and our hopes will not bear fruit.
It is held by some that a citizen of the British Empire should have equal Tights with every other citizen in every part of the British Empire. That sounds well, and there may be conditions when it would be desirable. But in this British Empire, which includes a portion of every quarter of the globe, and every race of men, and every form of civilization on earth, however beautiful it may toe in theory, it is not possible in practice. We ndted not discuss the theory. We may be well satisfied to consider our own circumstances and conditions and to guide our course accordingly. It is absolutely necessary foT the preservation of our civilization that we should retain to ourselves the right to say who shall and who shall not be admitted to the advantages, the benefits, the occupations, or the citizenship of this country. There is no other way by which we can retain and control the civilization that we have established, that we enjoy, and that we intend to transmit' to the generations that are to come after us, that they too may continue to improve it. There is no Imperial exigency, there is no condition of world politics, or of world war, that can be allowed to derogate from that right and the exercise of that right. It is a fact that there are soldiers from India fighting the battles of the Empire; and that the soldiers of Canada are fighting the battles of the Empire. They are both fighting in the same cause. But that does not say that the citizens of Canada may project their civilization amongst the peoples of India any more than it says that the peoples of India shall toe entitled to project their civilization amongst the people of Canada. India is fighting for her liberty, to do what she pleases within her own area. Canada i6 fighting for the same purpose. The fact that we are fighting to protect our rights and interests in our own country gives us no right or authority to dictate to the peoples of some other part of the Empire what they shall do in their country and under their own conditions. So we say, however well the soldiers of India may fight, however much India may do in the cause of the Empire, we still have the same right to protect ourselves and our own country, to protect the civilization our fathers established here, civilization that we are giving our best endeavours to build up, and to-day are making sacrifices for, in order that we may transmit it to out children that they may carry the torch of liberty and civilization on down the ages.
The remarks of the hon. member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) would tend to give the House the impression that some rights of this Parliament, or of the Canadian people, have been given away as a result of the recent Imperial Conference. Let me assure my hon. friend that no rights have been given away, that there has been no thought of any rights as likely to be given away. We did discuss with the Indian representatives the question of immigration, and we distinctly and clearly informed them that it would be impossible for us to hold out any hope of any particular change in respect to immigration to the province of British Columbia. The only thing that passed was a resolution to sub-
mit to the people and Parliament of Canada favourable consideration of the position the Indian Empire is taking in this great struggle, in which their soldiers are fighting side by side with the soldiers of the other parts of the Empire, while their people are assisting by large contributions of money toward the purposes of the war. We said that we would give favourable consideration to the requests they made, but we assured them that we had not any hope that these representations would meet with any success in the way of a change in the policy that Canada had adopted in the past with respect to immigration from the Indian Empire.
I rise to say this word in order that the statements that have fallen from the lips of the hon. member for Edmonton may not be misunderstood either by this House or by any portion of the country. I am sure he does not desire to create a wrong impression, and it would be most undesirable that a wrong impression should be created. We appreciate, I am sure, what the Indian Empire is doing in the war. At the same time, the hon. member (Mr. Oliver) correctly stated the condition when he said that we, too, are fighting for our rights, and that we in Canada have our rights, as they in India have theirs. We purpose to maintain the right that we have ever maintained, that of receiving and accepting those who, we think, will make desirable settlers in the building up of the great population of the Dominion. We discussed the matter with the Indian representatives, but we have promised nothing more than was stated to the House by the Prime Minister the other day. Nothing has been given away and there is no understanding that anything shall be given away in the policy with regard to foreign immigration coming to Canada at the close of the war.
Mr. Speaker, with the
consent of the House, I would move that when this House adjourns to-night it stand adjourned until two o'clock on Monday next. This is suggested in view of the fact that we are to be honoured by the visit of a very distinguished gentleman on Monday afternoon. I beg to move that this House do now adjourn and that it stand adjourned until two o'clock on Monday next.
Will there be any business besides meeting this distinguished gentleman?
Most of the afternoon, I presume, will be taken up by Mr. Balfour, and after that we will go on with Estimates or business of that kind.
Motion agreed to, and Llouse adjourned at 10.45 p.m. Friday until two p.m. Monday, May 28. Monday, May 28, 1917.