The minister should not bring forward this Bill unless he is in a position to answer a very obvious question which has an important bearing upon the sufficiency and efficiency of the proposed legislation.
I am not sure that the matter is of such vital importance, but if the hon. member considers that the passage of the whole Bill depends upon that point, I am quite willing to allow the Bill to stand until we get the information. I can supply the information before the third reading of the Bill.
It is not a question as to the passing of the Bill: we are in committee now, and this is the time for the furnishing of such details. A great deal depends on what proportion of the Chinese population comes under the heading of priests. For all we know, half the laundry-men and cooks in China may be priests. It is important that we know, therefore, what is the numerical extent of this class of the Chinese people to whom we are opening our doors without requiring from them the payment of head tax. The words " Confucian clergyman " should be defined before we say that every person of that class should be admitted free.
Under the existing Act the families of clergymen are admitted and in practice clergymen have been admitted, but owing to the fact, as I have pointed out, that in the exempting clause the word "clergymen" is not used, but only the words "clergyman's family," it has been.decided to insert the word "clergyman" so that there will be no danger of any broader meaning being attached to the term than there is in practice under the existing Act. That point, therefore, need not delay the passage of this Bill through the committee stage.
I think the minister is wrong in saying that this will not give a wider opportunity of admitting Chinamen. At the present time, if a clergyman comes into Canada, he pays the head tax of $500, but after he is here, his family can be admitted free. It is now proposed to broaden this provision so as to allow the clergymen to come in free. That is quite a serious departure from the provisions of the present Bill.
For many years, the Minister of Trade and Commerce has been persistent in the laudable effort of sending missionaries to China. Now I suppose he is anxious to bring Chinese missionaries to Canada. Is that the reason for this change? I think some stronger reason should be given than has yet been given by the minister for making this change as to:
Students coming to Canada for the purpose of securing a higher education in any Canadian college or university or other educational institution approved by the minister.
, Is that not going to create a good deal of trouble and dissatisfaction? When do students cease to be exempt? Is it when they attend common schools? Supposing a student absents himself from school or college in order to engage in mercantile work, saying, that when he gets a little older and makes some money he will return to college will he cease to be exempt? Many hardship might arise. Just at the present moment I am not prepared to say whether it is desirable to admit students without the payment of head tax. The present law is good; the payment of the
head tax is exacted, but after a student has engaged in his studies and has received proper certificates, that head tax is refunded, I suppose, when he is prepared to return to China. The idea is to admit students for the purpose of receiving a higher education; they are not to settle in this country, but are to return to China. I am afraid there would be a good deal of trouble working out paragraph 7 in reference to students. '
In the working out of this legislation, I do not think there will be any more trouble than in working out the existing Act. We are simply allowing the etudente who come in under the existing Act to come in without paying the head tax. We are not broadening the meaning attached to the word "student." The interpretation placed upon that word will he exactly the interpretation placed upon it in the operation of the existing Act. One reason why I thought it was right to introduce this change was because of the large number of requests I have been receiving for several years past to have students admitted free. Those requests have come from members of the hon. gentleman's party as well as from hon. members on this side; they have come from leagues that have been established in Canada, and I have received requests and petitions from different public bodies in Canada. At the present time I do not remember a single protest from any public 'body or any private individnal that we should not enact such a law, and I think I can call to my aid the hon. member for Pietou (Mr. Macdonald), who, at an earlier part of the session, strongly urged some action of this nature to be taken, and I assured him that it was my intention to introduce legislation of this character. He instanced the case of a Chinese student who had to pay a head tax, and I told him that in order to correct such instances in the future, it was my intention to bring in legislation at this session. Although this Bill has been on the Order Paper for quite a long time, no protests have been made against it.
Under paragraph 7 when would a student, or a person coming to Canada for the purpose of being a student, be liable to paying the head tax, and under what circumstances? This paragraph does not say that he shall actually continue in seeking an education. It says:
Students coming to Canada for the purpose of securing a higher education.
A student might come to Canada intending to enter college two or three years after hie arrival. There is no provision that he must actually begin hie studies within a reasonable time.
that at present he pays his head tax at the start, and after that he must have pursued his studies regularly in order to obtain a refund. Under this legislation, you let him into the country free, and the question is : How are you going to get him out again, or how are you going to make him pay the head tax if he ceases to be a student? You exempt him if he comes into Canada for the purpose of securing a higher education.
If he goes into a trade or occupation, a person engaging in which is liable to the imposition of the head tax, then he becomes liable to that head tax, and under subsection 7 (a):
If the person refuses or fails to pay the tax, he shall he deported, at his own expense if able to pay, and if not, at the expense of His Majesty.
Therefore, any of these men coming in under the existing Act for the purpose of attending an educational institution of Canada that is recognized by the department shall not be called upon to pay the head tax. In that respect he is in exactly the same position as he is in under the present Act, with the exception of paying the head tax, and should he cease to be in one of the exempt classes, for instance, should he engage in laundry business, or anything of that nature, he would become liable to the head tax.