Edmund Davie Fulton
Mr. E. D. FULTON (Kamloops):
Mr. Speaker, in discussing the bill to amend the Immigration Act it is practically essential first to devote some moments to a consideration of the statement made yesterday by the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), which was the first comprehensive statement by the government on immigration that has
been made since I have been here, and, as far as I know, since the conclusion of the war.
Of course it is early as yet to attempt a detailed analysis of the statement or its effect on Canada's immigration problem, but I think one can safely say that as to the portion of ttie statement dealing with the immediate application of the policy-referring to the admission of relatives of Canadian citizens, and to our part in taking care of the displaced persons in Europe-there is very general . agreement. Particularly is that so in reference to the part dealing with the admission of relatives of persons already resident in Canada. Indeed, if one might be permitted a criticism of that part of the statement at this stage, it would be that the statement has been too long delayed, or at least the application of the policy has been too long delayed, because after all perhaps no country in the world is in a better position than Canada to play a full part in relieving the distress and suffering of those displaced persons. We have seen evidence on the part of hon. members belonging to all parties of a very great and urgent desire that we should take our full part in relieving that distress. So I think that the criticism does apply, that it is to be regretted that the statement was not made earlier, and particularly that the policy was not worked out and put into effect perhaps as much as a year ago.
In this connection I would urge upon the Prime Minister and the government that when those officials of the immigration department, whom he indicated were being sent to Europe to investigate this matter of the displaced persons, go over there and interview these people, they do not place too narrow an interpretation upon the words "enemy aliens." Surely this should be treated as a humanitarian problem, and the only principle applied should be to assist those persons who are in need of assistance by permitting them to come to Canada on the basis of their need and their suitability, not on the basis of any narrow legal interpretation as to whether or not they are enemy aliens. Probably all hon. members have received letters from or have knowledge of Canadian citizens with relatives in Europe, in what were enemy countries or enemy occupied countries, who wish to have those relatives brought to Canada; but because at the moment we have this limitation against the admission of enemy aliens those relatives cannot be admitted. I personally know of a Canadian citizen who has relatives in Austria. Those relatives were put in a concentration camp by the Germans where at least one of them died, and they do not know whether others died there as well. He is anxious that his surviving relatives, particularly his sister
and her sons, should be permitted to come to Canada and live with him. He can provide them with accommodation and can give them support, but at the present time, though they were put in a concentration camp by the Germans, and though at least some of them died there, under present regulations the entry of those people would be delayed because they are regarded as enemy aliens. So I would ask that our immigration officials who are being sent to Europe to look into this question of displaced persons, be not confined to a narrow, technical interpretation of those words, but that they be empowered to examine every case upon its merits. If a person is deserving and desirous of coming to Canada, then he should be allowed to do so.
As I have said, in general there certainly are grounds for agreement with the first portion of the statement made yesterday, dealing with the immediate application of the government's immigration policy. As to the other portion, however, dealing with the long range policy, I feel there is cause for considerable disappointment. If we analyse that portion of the statement we find that it iays down a number of broad general principles with which we can all agree, and indeed which have been urged from time to time by members on all sides of the house. I should like to read those principles. As reported at page 2644 of Hansard for Thursday, May 1, the Prime Minister said:
The policy of the government is to foster the growth of the population of Canada by the encouragement of immigration. The government will seek by legislation, regulation, and vigorous administration, to ensure the careful selection and permanent settlement of such numbers of immigrants as can advantageously be absorbed in our national economy.
At page 2645 he elaborated that by saying: Let me now speak of the government's long term programme. It is based on the conviction that Canada needs population. The government is strongly of the view that our immigration policy should be devised in a positive sense, with the definite objective, as I have already stated, of enlarging the population of the country.
TV ith those general principles there can surely be nothing but agreement. But when it comes to the practical application of those principles, that is, the actual policy of the government with regard to immigration, there is no such definite pronouncement, and it is here, I submit, that there is cause for genuine disappointment.
I should like to read what the Prime Minister said when he dealt with the actual policy.
I find that after laying down these very general principles, by which he said the government would be guided in the detailed appli-
cation of this immigration policy, the Prime Minister went on to build up the situation to the point where one might assume that the government was ready immediately to apply this immigration policy or, if not to apply it, at least to lay down a general outline so that the country, and particularly those who are anxious to emigrate to Canada, might know exactly how they would eventually go about doing it.
But when it comes to the point where one might expect to find this general outline laid down, one's expectations are not realized. We find that the Prime Minister is reported at page 2646 of Hansard in these words:
For some time to come, no matter what special shipping arrangements we may be able to achieve, conditions of transport will limit the number of immigrants. When that limitation ceases to prevail, it will be necessary to consider further what measures will best achieve the adjustment of immigration to the numbers that can be absorbed into the economy of Canada.
And with tha-t statement, we were left. There was no indication, even in general outline, of just how the government proposes to go about applying these general principles to the policy the development of which it has in mind.
There is no indication, for instance, of where we will look, or to what countries we will look, for our immigrants. There is no indication of the general type and classification of the entrants who will be permitted to come to Canada. There is no indication that the government is prepared to enter into negotiations with, say, the governments of the United Kingdom, France or the Netherlands, or the low countries-there is no indication of negotiations with those countries with regard to plans for assisted immigration in the future. There is no indication as to what measure of assistance will be provided to immigrants, or indeed whether any assistance will be provided.
All these matters could surely have been covered in a general outline of a plan for immigration, even one which was to be put into effect only at a future time. The practical importance of laying down such a general outline can be realized, I think, when one calls to mind the fact that there are now large numbers of people, in Europe especially, looking to that day in the future when they may be abfe to emigrate to the new world. I suggest we should make known our intentions for the future, and should do it at this time, even though we cannot now put it into effect, so that those who are anxious to emigrate and who, if they cannot come to Canada, or do not know they will be permitted to come to Canada and as a result will look to
Australia, South Africa or South America, will know that they will be able at some future time to come to this country. I have in mind people of the best type, who are anxious to make their homes in the new world. They will now be anxious to choose Canada as their future home. But if we do not do this, or take some such step, then surely it is quite possible that we will lose our chance to get the best, the most active and the most desirable type of immigrants for this country. We know, for instance, that Australia, South Africa and others of the British dominions have their plans. Indeed, they have agents in Europe and the United Kingdom at this time who are receiving applications for immigration. I suggest Canada should do the same.
In short, the principles of our long-range immigration policy have been laid down. With those principles there is general agreement. I would urge the Prime Minister and the government to go further, and to commit themselves not only to the priciples, which no one questions, but to the policy, so that the house and country will know in general outline how they are going to accomplish that to which they are committed. Otherwise I suggest the Prime Minister and government lay themselves open to a serious charge of evasion.
Turning to the other feature of the bill now before the house, I should like to deal with the matter of the repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act. It is some two months since this matter was last discussed in the house, so I should like to refer Your Honour and hon. members back to some of the suggestions made at that time by the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green).
At the conclusion of his remarks as they are reported in Hansard for February 11, we find the hon. member saying this at page 313:
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, once more I would ask that this house and this country, before this hill is passed, be given full details concerning Chinese immigration that will be allowed if the Chinese Immigration Act is repealed, and what will be the future policy in regard to Chinese immigration.
That was his first point. Then he went on to make two further points, which should be considered in connection with this matter. He said:
Also we should be told the policy of this government toward the suggested united nations control over immigration into Canada, and in the third place we should be told the policy of this government concerning Japanese immigration.
Apparently the Prime Minister gave careful consideration to those three points suggested by the hon. member for Vancouver
South. There was certainly a long delay in proceeding with this measure, which might justify one in concluding that the government was impressed by what had been said. But further evidence that consideration was given to those suggestions is found, I think, in the fact that when the Prime Minister made his statement yesterday, he did deal specifically with those three points. I think congratulations should be extended to the hon. member for Vancouver South for the contribution he made in the matter; and certainly I should like to express appreciation of the fact that those points were covered in the statement so that now when we come to discuss this matter we have knowledge of what the government's policy is.
The Prime Minister covered the matter of united nations control of immigration when, as reported in his statement at page 2645 of Hansard he said this:
Canada is not obliged, as a result of membership in the united nations or under the constitution of the international refugee organization, to accept any specific number of refugees or displaced persons.
I wish to make it quite clear that Canada is perfectly within her rights in selecting the persons whom we regard as desirable future citizens. It is not a "fundamental human right" of any alien to enter Canada. It is a privilege. It is a matter of domestic policy. Immigration is subject to the control of the parliament of Canada.
With those statements certainly we in this party are in agreement. And in view of the possibility, through some other interpretation of the united nations charter, of our being called upon to accept large numbers of immigrants from any country which might suggest that they be allowed to come, I am certainly glad to have the statement from the Prime Minister that no such attitude would be adopted.
He dealt also with the question of Japanese immigration in these words:
With regard to the Japanese, I stated on August 4, 1944, at which time we were at war with Japan, that the government felt that in the years after the war the immigration of Japanese should not be permitted. This is the present view and policy of the government.
So that aspect of the problem of immigration has now been settled. It arose only with respect to the application of P.C. 2115, which deals with Asiatic immigration generally. We are glad to have the Prime Minister's assurance that the present policy of this government is that Japanese immigration will not be permitted.
With regard to a request for a definite statement of policy with respect to Chinese 83166-172J
immigration, I find that no such definite assurance and no such definite outline of what the policy will be was given. Yesterday the Prime Minister stated distinctly, as reported on page 2646 of Hansard:
-apart from the repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act and the revocation of order in council P.C. 1378 of June 17, 1931, regarding naturalization, the government has no intention of removing _ the existing regulations respecting Asiatic immigration unless and until alternative measures of effective control have been worked out.
That brings to mind the question: What is to be the effective control of Asiatic and Chinese immigration? From what the Prime Minister said it appears it is to be only P.C. 2115, which prohibits oriental immigration except for persons coming within certain specified categories. I suggest that that is not satisfactory, for at least two reasons. First, the matter is too important to be left to an order in council for disposition. A matter of such importance as immigration from the orient surely is a matter which should be determined by the government on the basis of a measure submitted to and approved by the House of Commons. The Chinese Immigration Act, which we are being asked to repeal, was a measure passed by the House of Commons, and I suggest it would be proper if the alternative immigration measure was one which had been submitted to and passed by the House of Commons.
Perhaps a more important point is that orders in council can be repealed without being submitted to the house. Orders in council have been forgotten and overlooked in the past, and new orders in council with entirely different provisions can be passed without reference to the house, or passed when the house is not sitting. It is not sufficient safeguard to say that they can be revoked by addresses subsequently passed by both houses of parliament. In dealing with matters concerning an immigration policy it is essential that the decision of parliament be obtained before the policy is put into effect.
I urge again that the proper way to determine a Chinese immigration policy, the proper way to limit immigration from China or any other country in the orient, would be by concluding a treaty with that country. Such a treaty need not be concluded on the basis of discrimination. It is not unfair or unjust, and I have the support of the Prime Minister's own statement for this, for Canada to say that we would prefer to have one type of immigrant rather than another. That is exercising a right which is just and proper and which is within our own power to exercise. In his statement on previous occasions with regard
to this subject the Prime Minister has indicated that China said she would not regard it as discrimination if we were to ask her to limit the number of immigrants coming to this country. What she is anxious for is to be treated on a basis of equality in making such a treaty. What she wants is to have negotiations carried on in an aboveboard manner. Now, therefore, we are suggesting to the Prime Minister that that would be the proper -way to make arrangements with regard to Chinese immigration; vie should not leave it merely to be determined by order in council.
Subtopic: REPEAL OF CHINESE IMMIGRATION ACT-BONDING OF PERSONS IN TRANSIT THROUGH CANADA