March 22, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Eugène Paquet

Conservative (1867-1942)


This section concerning inspection is perhaps the most important of all. What we should insist on is moral, physical and mental inspection.
Persons who have been convicted of any crime should not' be permitted to land in Canada. In that connection, I express the opinion, founded on the statement of Mr. Scott, that we should provide for the moral examination of the immigrants on the other side. Whoever intends to settle in our country should be the holder of a certificate stating that he has committed no crime. This certificate might be issued by a magistrate, by the clerk of a court of justice, ot by a clergyman. Let us insert a similar test in our legislation, and we shall have at our disposal a further means of keeping away undesirable immigrants. On the twenty-first of April. 1909, in the Committee on Agriculture, Mr. Monk put this question to Mr. Scott: 'What objections do you see to it if the immigrant should hand to the examining authority on the other side that document which would show that the immigrant is not a criminal?'' Mr. JAMESON. \
And Mr. Scott said: ' I would have no objections.'
I desire to make another suggestion. The ideal system would consist in a medical examination performed on board ship by a Canadian physician, appointed and paid by the Department of the Interior. He would be permitted to take the necessary time to make an inspection of a very scientific character.
You will allow me to make a few remarks concerning the medical inspection of immigrants at Quebec. Dr. Page has thoroughly organized the system of medical inspectors at that place. Those having any experience in the practice of medicine know how7 difficult it sometimes is, to discover mental disease. The physician is obliged to make long and repeated examinations. I think Dr. Burgess, medical superintendent of Verdun Asylum, is right when he says:
But, apart from the question of heredity, there is another and more remediable cause for the rapid increase in our asylum population, namely, the defective class of immigrants being dumped upon our shores. That a country so vast as ours should be more densely peopled is ' a consummation devoutly to he wished,' hut the question of number should be secondary to that of character, and quite a large proportion of the immigrants brought in are of a low standard of mentality, some of them even having been inmates of asylums before coming to this country.^ In our own establishment, of the admissions since its opening, over forty per cent have been of foreign birth, and there are in residence at the present time not a few patients, who, if subjected to any proper examination, would never have been allowed to set foot in the country. The new Immigration Act, assented to in July, 1906, by which an immigrant probationary period in this country was extended to two years, has certainly been a great help toward reducing the number of undesirables foisted upon us, and by its aid we were able last year to bring about the deportation of some fourteen patients. There are, however, still resident no less than eleven persons whom we are morally certain come within the provisions of the Act, but in regard to whom we have been able to get no positive proof that such is the case. Insane, they are unable or unwilling to give any reliah'e information about themselves, and friendless, we have no one to whom to apply for it. This fact alone proves the crying need for a much stricter examination of every alien seeking our shores. All persons wishing to emigrate to Canada should he rigidly examined by liberally salaried medical officers appointed by the Dominion government, before being allowed to embark, and should furnish proof that they have never been insane or epileptic, and that their parents have never been affected with such diseases. The examining medical officer should be held strictly accountable for the mental calibre of the applicants for emigration passed by him.
I hope the minister will be able to go along these lines. I believe this Bill is a

step in advance. I would like a perfect Bill, and I believe that there is room foi great improvement, even upon the present legislation. The government would be accomplishing a progressive work should they appoint a commissioner with power to investigate in order to enlighten the legislators of this country with regard to this great question of immigration.

Full View