May 25, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


Frank Oliver



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.

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