April 25, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)


George Halsey Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)


Before the Orders of the Day are called I desire to direct the attention of the government to an unfortunate incident that occurred in connection with immigration and which is reported in the newspapers of Friday and Saturday last. Some 40 Austrian immigrants arrived here from Montreal on Thursday evening last by train, without money and without food. According to the newspaper reports, there were no fewer than 40 poorly clad and weary looking immigrants finding themselves homeless and without shelter. There were a few women among them, though they were mostly men. They found their way to the police station in Ottawa, as there was no place for them at the Canadian Pacific Railway station where they could remain, because the railway authorities do not allow people to loaf about their station, and they were directed to the police station. They came there on Thursday evening and asked to be kept over night. Tney reported to the police sergeant that they were penniless, they had no place to go and they wanted to remain over night. Consequently room was made for them at the police station. I am given to understand that food was procured for them by one of the citizens of Ottawa, almost wholly at his own expense, who provided meals for them. These poor people are reported as saying:
We will starve unless we get something to do. Our money is all gone and we have no more food. The women need clothing and we have experienced many hardships during the journey. Canada was pictured to us as a land of wealth and plenty, and we do not expect to be disappointed.
Fortunately they were not disappointed, because the next day, on Good Friday, the immigration agency found work for all these men and they were sent away from Ottawa to work on some railway construction. Now, I want to call the attention of the government to the fact that when these people arrived here without any means or food, if they had not been able to secure work at once they would have been a charge on this city for an indefinite period. These people were Austrians and they are said to have come here of their own volition. It seems to me that something ought to be done by the immigration office to prevent this sort of thing occurring, to see that people do not come here without money and with no means of procuring a- livelihood. If the government are going to allow people of that class to come here they should provide for them at some seaport town where they can be looked after until they get work, arid they should not be allowed to find their way into the interior
in a destitute condition. Our country is filling up iiow very rapidly and we are all proud of it. We have got a grand land, and we ought to see to it that the proper class of immigrants are brought into this country. I would suggest to the right hon. the Prime Minister, who I understand presides over the Immigration Department for the time being, to take some steps to see that cases of this kind do not occur again.

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