April 29, 1902

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The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR.

If the hon. member (Mr. Clarke) would state that he understood that a number of Italians had been allowed to come in and would ask me as to -whether that was the fact or not,

I would have to tell the bon. gentleman that I did not know, that I would have to look into it. because as it had never been brought to my attention, I would not be able to say. The hon. gentleman will understand that it is absolutely impossible for any minister to read all the newspapers in the country and every article which they contain, and to know whether such a case as this happened or not. There may be no truth in that statement. I have seen statements in the papers which were wholly manufactured, that were without foundation in fact, or that were exaggerated. If the matter had*been called to my attention, I would at once have had an investigation made m order to see if a remedy could not be ap-

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plied. As to the future, though I cannot agree with every criticism that is addressed to the department over which I preside I think hon. members will do me the justice to acknowledge that when suggestions have been made out of which I could derive any benefit in the administration of the department, I have never hesitated to adopt these suggestions, and it was because of the fact that I have been very much impressed with the necessity of a stricter enforcement of the exclusion clauses and a stricter exercise of the powers of exclusion in certain cases that this Bill has been brought before the House. I purpose talcing the greatest possible care and it shall be my endeavour to protect the country from the effects of undesirable immigration in the sense in which I have expressed it under the provisions of this Bill, and also under the provisions of the statute as it stands at the present time.

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Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I thought the hon. Minister of the Interior did not appreciate the point that my hon. friend from West Toronto (Mr. Clarke) was making and therefore I made the suggestion to him. I did not suggest that my hon. friend expected the hon. minister, on the spur of the moment, to be able to tell him all the facts, but I quite conceive that it was within his duty, as these statements had been made publicly in the newspapers and had been brought to his attention of his constituents, and also because the statements had been made in a newspaper very friendly to tbe government, to bring this matter to the attention of the committee, and to ask that it should be looked into at the hon. minister's earliest convenience?

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Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

The statement has been made by the hon. minister that so far as the government of Canada are concerned, they had no agents in Italy. These immigrants must liav* been brought out here by some person-by a steamship company.

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The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR.

They may have come across on

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Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

They did not swim across. They must have been brought across on board of a steamer, and the steamship company would get the usual bonus for bring-mg immigrants over, I presume.

The MINISTER OF TIIE INTERIOR,

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The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR.

W *iei1 I say no, the hon. gentleman will understand that I do not know just exactly when this particular circumstance occurred. I remember it, but I do not particularly remember the people to whom the hon. gentleman is referring. But I think I aid safe in saying we have not pirid any bonuses upon any considerable number' of Italians at all; in fact, I do not know that Hon. Mr. SIFTON,

we have paid bonuses for any Italians. I doubt that we have. I would not like to make a positive statement, but if any Italians have been Taid for, there certainly was no considerable number of them. They most likely have been included with other immigrants. They must have come around by Germany and been included with other immigrants.

,M.r- CLARICE. Wore the Italians excluded from the benefits of this bonus ?

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The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR.

I do ( not remember that they were distinctly-excluded. I remember a question incidentally asked when the matter of paying bonuses for Italian immigrants came up. and without expressing any opinion ns to the desirability of bringing in Italian immigrants, I said : We will not extend our work to that country or pay. any bonus.

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Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

Two years ago I drew the attention of the House to a statement made by the Vienna correspondent of the London ' Times ' and reproduced in the Edinburgh ' Scotsman,' that a large number of immigrants from Roumania were about to start for Canada. I drew the attention of the hon. minister to this statement, and I was informed that the government had no knowledge of this intended emigration. Within two months afterwards these people arrived in Canada. The department did not seem to be apprised of their coming.

I want to point out that, in face of the proclamation issued against pauper immigrants, so lax is the administration of the department that according to the statements from which I have quoted, these immigrants who were in destitute circumstances, were induced by steamship companies to come here, and there was practically no inspection, and no barrier to their entering the Dominion. That proves that the department has not that control over immigrants which, in my judgment, is necessary in the public interest.

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Uriah Wilson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WILSON.

A year ago a number of immigrants came to Quebec and they were not allowed to land, but the steamer brought them to Montreal and they were permitted to land there on the special order of Mr. Pedley.

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Uriah Wilson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WILSON.

I dare say it was the same lot. He got from a society in Montreal some guarantee that they would look after them, and so they were allowed to land under the special permission of the superintendent of immigration. These are the things we complain of, and these are the things that should be stopped.

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Edmund Boyd Osler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. OSLER.

It would appear that our laws for prohibiting paupers and diseased immigrants from entering Canada, are not as strict as are the laws in force in the

United States. It is clear that the United States officers reject very great numbers that we accept. I contend that the immigrant who is not good enough for the United States is not good enough for Canada ; I do not care how he comes here. I contend that the evidence is plain, that we have not a proper supervision over immigrants. The very fact that the 'Americans have 44 officials in Canada inspecting immigrants whose destination is the United States, is of itself sufficient to show that the Canadian inspection is very lax. The minister (Hon. Mr. Sifton) stated in reply to my colleague (Mr. Clarke) : That if he charged $1 a head poll tax the steamship companies would at once take their immigrants to the United States. That is a very nice admission coming from the Minister of Immigration. It shows that it is not the money that Canada spends, that brings these immigrants to Canada, but that it is the steamship companies who are bringing them here for the sake of the passage money. If one dollar poll tax is going to exclude immigrants, I wonder what is the use of our expending large sums of money on immigration. Let us rather, at once pay subsidies to the steamship companies to bring in whom they like. If we assume that these 2,000 destitute Italians came in here without the bounty, they are at all events included in the number of immigrants that the minister takes credit for having brought here on account of the money expended. The impression left on my mind by this debate is, that the regulations for the inspection of immigrants coming into Canada are decidedly loose, and that people are being admitted here who are excluded from the United States ; people who tend to deteriorate the quality of our population. There was recently a very strong expression of opinion in this House against permitting scrub horses to be imported into the west to deteriorate the stock in that country. Shall we be less particular as to the kind of men we bring into this country to mix with our population, than we are as to the kind of animals we allow to be imported ?

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The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR.

I made no statement which would lead the hon. gentleman (Mr. Osier) to infer that the steamship companies exclusively brought immigrants to Canada.

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Edmund Boyd Osler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. OSLER.

The minister said that if we Imposed a poll tax of one dollar a head the steamship companies would take the immigrants to the United States.

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The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR.

I stated that if we put a poll tax against these steamship agents, that would prevent them bringing these immigrants to Canada. That does not imply that the steamship companies alone are bringing immigrants to Canada. We pay a bonus to the steamship agents for the purpose of putting Canada in the same position as countries which are

competing witn us, and if we excited the hostility of the steamship companies, the agents of these companies would endeavour to neutralize the efforts of our own officers, and the result might be that we would get no immigrants. That is not saying that the expenditure of our own money is having no effect. It is simply saying that if we make the steamship agents hostile, they would devote themselves to counteracting the efforts of the officers whom we are employing. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Osier) says that an immigrant who is not fit to go to the United States is not fit to come into Canada, and he appeared to be under the impression that he was expressing a very lofty sentiment. Well, I express the sentiment, that the government of Canada is at least just as competent through its officers to decide who is to come into Canada, as the officers of the United States government are competent to decide for them. I am not in favour of leaving it to the officers of the United States government to decide who is to come into Canada. If that be the policy which the hon. gentleman (Mr. Osier) advocates, I dissent from it. and I cannot hold out any hope that I am likely to adopt his view. The actual fact is that the whole thing is a tempest in a tea pot. There is actually nothing in it : it amounts to nothing. If the hon. gentleman will read the remarks I made, he wifi see that practically the whole thing reduced itself to something like 33 or 34 people out of almost a year's work, and that there was the merest trifle of difference between the work of the American officers and our officers. There were some 23 or 24 people who were permitted to go into the North-west simply because the United States officers rejected them upon grounds which one of our inspectors did not consider sufficient, namely, because there was some trifling disease amongst the children. Outside of that, to all intents and purposes the result of the examination has been the same.

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Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

If the minister would do what the country requires that he should do, he would take power similar to that which is in the United States law to send back unsuitable immigrants. He tells us that the number of unsuitable immigrants rejected by the United States was insignificant. but that is not the information which the United States officers say that there were over 1,000 rejected, part of one year, but the minister says there were but an insignificant few. We have, however, very good reason to believe that the statements made in the public press and by the United States immigration officials are correct.

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The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR.

I decline entirely to be judged in this House by a statement published in the Montreal ' Star ' by an American immigration officer. There is a committee of this House which has jurisdiction to inquire into all matters

relating to immigration. The question of immigration was before that committee for a long time this session, and if lion, gentlemen opposite desire to investigate the facts and have evidence produced on which a minister would be quite willing to be judged and which would be satisfactory to the House, they had the opportunity of doing it. But I refuse to be judged by that statement, especially when it is shown to be entirely false by the investigation which has taken place since. I also refuse to be judged by newspaper statements which hon. gentlemen opposite produce and for the accuracy of which they decline to vouch.

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Uriah Wilson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WILSON.

Will the hon. gentleman allow us to have an investigation and to have witnesses summoned before the Committee ou Agriculture to prove the statements we make in this House ?

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The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR.

It is not necessary for the hon. gentleman to ask me that question. I have never sought to prevent any witnesses being called. I have never, directly or indirectly, in any shape or way, interfered or sought to interfere with the calling of any witness whom any member of the opposition desired to cali before the Committee on Agriculture. I have never attended a meeting of the committea or had anything to do with it further than to tell the officers of the department to go there when summoned and do everything they could to give the committee the information it desired.

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April 29, 1902