I think your position i3 perfectly proper, Mr. Chairman. This is civil government and applies only to statutory positions. Under item 124 we have the outside services, with all the staff attached thereto, and that will give ample opportunity to discuss any matter relating to immigration.
I think this would be an excellent opportunity for the minister to tell the people and the country what the outlook for his department is for the next three years. What will be the policy of the department in connection with immigration? I ask for a statement in this regard for the reason that, apart from one or two commercial institutions in the United States that seem to be over-optimistic, the general forecast is that the present depression is likely to endure for some time. I assume the minister does not contemplate the reopening of this country to an inflow of immigration, and I should like to know the position he takes in regard to the present personnel of his department. Is he going to maintain the entire overhead required for the carrying on of a full policy or will there 'be a reduction in keeping with the almost total abolition of the immigration service?
With respect to what the hon. member for Bow River has just said, I can assure the members of this committee- probably at the risk of not following the time-honoured course of announcing beforehand what a policy may or may not be-that as long as conditions in this country are as they are to-day there need be no fear that the bars will be let down to immigrants. We have problems enough on our hands because of, let me say, the thoughtless or undisciplined migrations into this country in the past. I am not going to charge those who immet-diately preceded us in government with any delinquency in that regard-that probably could be just as successfully charged against those who in turn preceded them. I think the * hon. member for Camrose (Mr. Lucas) and myself are in a measure crusaders so far as the rigidity of the present policy is concerned. He identified the problem before I did, but I identified it some, two or three years ago. As I saw it, we were not taking the care we should take in introducing people into this
country or in encouraging them to come; we were not sure that they were being assimilated. I do not want to charge the late government with that because I think everyone in this country, in government and out of government, has been just a little thoughtless as to what problem was being created with respect to the encouragement of immigration.
The hon. member for Bow River asks about the curtailment of the present vote. This vote is not likely to be reduced in the next two or three years because the experience gained in presiding over the department since last August has taught me that it is a great deal easier to admit people into a country than it is to keep them out. This vote will have to be maintained in a large measure in connection with the preventive service and the survey of those who seek admission into Canada. I can see no immediate hope for any considerable reduction.
So far as this government is concerned, and I think I can speak with a good deal of confidence in connection with the matter, the question of immigration into Canada will not in the future be a matter of politics. If in the past politics has entered into this question, we have learned our lesson and the depression which is at present upon us has made manifest the mistakes which were made in the past. In future immigration will be entirely dissociated from politics and will be dealt with in a detached and dispassionate way with a view only to what is best for Canada. That is the policy I propose to pursue. So long as this government is in power the immigration policy of this country will never again be dictated by transportation companies and booking agencies and those who have very little else but their own material interest at heart.
Mr. Chairman, I am delighted to hear the statement the minister has made. I discovered, however, in the reading room what purports to be a reproduction of an advertisement which appeared in the old country papers. It reads as follows:
New Brunswick Family Settlement Scheme
Agricultural families now being selected.
Farm, stock and equipment provided.
Splendid opportunity for married agricultural workers to have a farm of their own.
Call and discuss it with the Canadian government representative.
George hotel, Easingwold. Monday, March 2, 1931.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Rusholme3, printers, Market street, York.
Why should these advertisements be continued in the old country papers if we are
going to close down on immigration during the period of the depression? Why have the immigration agents been given authority to bring still more people to this country? I think these are fair questions in view of the statement first made by the minister.
respect to the New Brunswick families, and I will explain that. The provinces have certain rights under the British North America Act with respect to this matter, and one thing which I endeavoured to clear up and make plain last fall was that I and this government would consult with the provinces with respect to the admission of migrants into any province. I find that there is a tripartite agreement in force called the New Brunswick scheme. The New Brunswick government entered into an agreement a few years ago with the Oversea Settlement Department and the dominion government to bring into the province of New Brunswick some five hundred families. When I came into the department 1 found that about three hundred of those families had come into the province, and I assume that the advertisement to which the hon. member refers must have been directed to that movement of people. The remainder of the five hundred families have not come forward, and there will be no further movement of families this year into New Brunswick. In no case, unless very great pressure is brought to bear by the province itself, and unless the province is able to disclose to the government that it is in need of certain types of settlers, will the government, until the depression through which we are now passing has cleared away, consent to the movement of more people into that province.
I am more than pleased to learn the policy of the present administration in regard to immigration. It is a policy which has been consistently, persistently and hopefully urged from this corner of the house for the last nine years. We never ceased year after year to urge upon the former government the necessity of curtailing migra-
tion to Canada, particularly of the agricultural class. Yet that policy was persisted in, inadvisedly in my opinion, but with the complete collaboration and cooperation of the then opposition-during those years, indeed, with their criticism because the government of the day was not bringing in a sufficient number of immigrants. I think the minister was a little discreet when he suggested he was not going to blame particularly the former government or any previous government for that particular policy in regard to immigration because they were all involved in it. He was quite right; they all were. The policy in the past has been guided and motivated principally by the transportation interests and the great land corporations in this country whose principal interest was in getting human tonnage on which to make a profit not only in bringing it here but after it had reached here. Many sad tales have been recounted as a result of that policy in the past. Therefore I am particularly pleased to hear a statement of the present minister's intentions with regard to the future of his department.
The point that puzzles me, however, is why we should have a director of publicity for immigration. If immigration is abolished, why a- commissioner? Why an assistant commissioner? Why a supervisor of juvenile immigration? Why a supervisor, women's division, and a dozen other positions that unquestionably depend upon the flow of migrants to this country? As regards the proper inspection and checking of those who are trying to get through, I have no criticism to offer. I think if anything the policy of governments in the past has been too lax. I have under my hand records of some instances which indicate that the medical inspection at ports of entry as well as at ports of disembarkation has been hopelessly below par and, indeed, reflects very seriously upon the medical end of the Department of Immigration. But since immigration has now been stopped, I should like the minister to explain why he is retaining these persons whose principal interest is m bringing immigrants to Canada? I have particular reference to the director of publicity.
As regards the commissioner of immigration, the hon. member will almost at once agree with me that the name will now be a misnomer; it might almost better be a commissioner of exclusion. But I know the commissioner of immigration very well, having worked with him for longer hours than I was accustomed to work before I entered on the duties of the position I at present hold. His work is probably as important as any that is carried on in the civil service. It is preventive,
of course, but let me assure the hon. member for Bow River-and he as well as all other members will probably get a good deal of satisfaction out of this-that the increasing persistence of people from other lands in trying to get into this country is a pretty fair indication that Canada is a better place than any other in the world and we are having a very difficult time to keep them out. In fact, at times we have to discourage those whom in normal times we would welcome.
But at present we have on our hands a more serious problem, and that is to find gainful occupations and means of livelihood for those who were encouraged to come to Canada in the nearer past years. Those who have been here for some years are, I think, pretty well settled. We have to endeavour to draw people from the cities, from the ranks of labour and other lines of work where they are not getting on because of unemployment and conditions of that sort, and to place them upon farms throughout Canada. It may be said with a good deal of truth, having regard to the difficulties that the agriculturist is meeting with at the present time, that people going on farm land will have a difficult time of it.