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


Robert Rogers (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)


The remarks of the hon. member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) would tend to give the House the impression that some rights of this Parliament, or of the Canadian people, have been given away as a result of the recent Imperial Conference. Let me assure my hon. friend that no rights have been given away, that there has been no thought of any rights as likely to be given away. We did discuss with the Indian representatives the question of immigration, and we distinctly and clearly informed them that it would be impossible for us to hold out any hope of any particular change in respect to immigration to the province of British Columbia. The only thing that passed was a resolution to sub-

mit to the people and Parliament of Canada favourable consideration of the position the Indian Empire is taking in this great struggle, in which their soldiers are fighting side by side with the soldiers of the other parts of the Empire, while their people are assisting by large contributions of money toward the purposes of the war. We said that we would give favourable consideration to the requests they made, but we assured them that we had not any hope that these representations would meet with any success in the way of a change in the policy that Canada had adopted in the past with respect to immigration from the Indian Empire.
I rise to say this word in order that the statements that have fallen from the lips of the hon. member for Edmonton may not be misunderstood either by this House or by any portion of the country. I am sure he does not desire to create a wrong impression, and it would be most undesirable that a wrong impression should be created. We appreciate, I am sure, what the Indian Empire is doing in the war. At the same time, the hon. member (Mr. Oliver) correctly stated the condition when he said that we, too, are fighting for our rights, and that we in Canada have our rights, as they in India have theirs. We purpose to maintain the right that we have ever maintained, that of receiving and accepting those who, we think, will make desirable settlers in the building up of the great population of the Dominion. We discussed the matter with the Indian representatives, but we have promised nothing more than was stated to the House by the Prime Minister the other day. Nothing has been given away and there is no understanding that anything shall be given away in the policy with regard to foreign immigration coming to Canada at the close of the war.
Progress reported.

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