March 30, 1921

L LIB

Edmond Proulx

Laurier Liberal

Mr. EDMOND PROULX (Prescott) :

Mr. Speaker, I am in accord with most of what has been said by my hon. friend from St. Mary (Mr. Deslauriers), but I would like to make certain reservations. At the conclusion of his remarks my hon. friend said he would not object to the admission into this country of a certain class of immigrants, especially those who would engage in farm work or settle on the land. But the present regulations of the Immigration Department permit the immigration into the country of farm labourers and domestic servants. We are not overburdened with this class of immigrants and I do not think we need anticipate any trouble through letting them come in. I am in accord with my hon. friend, however, in his desire to restrict the admission of the artisan class. There is much unemployment at present in the different cities and urban centres of this country, and that unemployment will become more serious if the present immigration restrictions are relaxed. I do not think there is a small town in this country which has not been affected during the last few months by unemployment conditions. We read in the press that thousands of persons of the artisan class are waiting in the European ports for the opportunity to come to this country. Well, I do not see why we should make our regulations less restrictive than those which the United States has applied to immigration into that country. Recently the United * States Government imposed very stringent

restrictions. I applied not long ago for permission for one of my electors to go back to the United States; he had lived there some years ago and had married an American. He could not, however, gain admission to the United States, in view of the restrictions imposed. I advise the Minister of Immigration (Mr. Calder) to follow the example of the United States in this regard and to protect our own citizens. The best way to protect our workers or artisans is to keep for them the labour that is available in Canada. We should not encourage the immigration of French or Belgian or English people into this country at present; they are needed in their own countries to go on the land and to assist in reconstruction, especially in France and Belgium. We should render the people of those countries a very bad service if we carried on a propaganda to cause many of their number to leave and come here. Most of those who want to come into Canada are of the artisan class. I would strongly encourage the admission of those who want to go on the land, or work for the farmers or accept employment as domestic servants. The hon. member for St. Mary has said that the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway company strongly advocated a policy of immigration, saying that it would be the salvation of the country and of the railway companies if we could increase our immigration. I am sure that the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway company had in his mind immigration of the settler class. That is what opened the West some years ago and created prosperity there. But unfortunately we do not get the same class of immigrants now, especially from Europe, as we got some years ago. If we admit thousands of persons of the artisan class who will not go on the land but will stay in the cities and urban centres, we shall aggravate the unemployment situation to the detriment of our own people. There is one town in my county with a population of 5,500. The main industry there is a pulp mill. Well, that industry had to close down a few days ago, and may be closed for some months, affecting the employment of some seven or eight hundred people. You can see, Mr. Speaker, what the condition is if there are many other towns in this country in the same position. I was in Toronto last week, and I believe that the unemployment situation there is very serious. If we admit into Canada any more persons of the artisan class, it will become much worse. I hope, therefore, that the Minister of Immigration will not relax his restrictions,

even if he is strongly urged to do it. I know there are some in this country-I do not know whether it is through generosity or tenderness of heart-who would like these restrictions relaxed so that a large number of artisans could gain admission into Canada. Well, we should protect our own people first; charity begins at home. Instead of being relaxed the restrictions should be made even more severe, at least for some time, until the unemployment situation becomes less acute. Having made these observations, I am pleased to second the motion of my hon. friend from St. Mary.

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UNION

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Unionist

Mr. E. W. NESBITT (North Oxford) :

Mr. Speaker, I rise merely to ask the Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Calder)-if he is going to speak with regard to the resolution-if it would not be possible to have these proposed immigrants checked at the places where they originate instead of having them deported if they are not found satisfactory on their arrival in Canada. It must be a great hardship to these poor people to travel all the way across the ocean and then be rejected when they land in this country.

I have nothing particular to say with reference to the class of immigrants being allowed in, because I think the minister is perfectly alive to the situation in this country. As is suggested by my hon. friend (Mr. Proulx) we do not want in the cities and towns more artisans. We want men on the farms. In Ontario, at the present time, it is just as difficult this year as it was last year to get men to work on the farm; wages demanded last year by men who would work on the farm were more than the farmer could afford to pay and at the same time make a profit out of his business, and if wages were high last year, now that the prices of nearly all farm products have very materially decreased, I am quite sure that this year wages will be still more than the farmer can afford to pay.

I am not going to speak for the western farmer, because he can speak for himself better than I can, but I understand that farmers in the West paid wages as high as $10 and $12 a day last year for threshing and other farming operations. If that be the case, that is very much more than we paid in Ontario, and it must be that much more difficult for western farmers to stand. There is plenty of room in this country for certain classes of European farmers, such as those who have been successful in the United States, and who, I

believe, could be successful in this country. The type of immigrants that we do not want is the continual agitator who apparently was not satisfied with the country from which he came and who is less satisfied with the country to which he comes.

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PRO
UNION

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Unionist

Mr. NESBITT:

But very few. I am glad to state that in Woodstock we are a very peaceable community; there is no unemployment; everybody who wants to work has work to do, so that I am not speaking on account of any local troubles. I know that what I have already said is correct, namely, that we cannot get men on the farm this year at any lower wages than we did last year; in fact, we cannot get, in any measure, the help that is required on the farm. Many people think that anybody can work on a farm, but there never was a greater mistake. The man who is city-bred entirely takes a long time to be of any use on the farm. In my experience a man raised on a farm can learn very much more rapidly to make himself useful in an ordinary factory than the ordinary city-bred man can learn to make himself useful on a farm. The boys on the farm

that goes into the old question of why boys leave the farm and I do not think I will touch that; I left the farm myself, and I am very pleased to get back on it any hour of the day or any day of the week that I can do so-

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L LIB
UNION
L LIB
UNION

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Unionist

Mr. NESBITT:

We have enough people in the community to hold a small church meeting if that is necessary, but I am afraid I am not an adept at that.

I still think that, if it were possible, it would be better to stop these prospective immigrants at the port of embarkation than at the port of debarkation. I think also that there are numbers of European farmers who could well be brought out to this country and who would be useful on the land now. But it is not wise to encourage artisans to come to Canada because, at least at the present time, we have plenty of that class to fill up all the factories and manufacturing industries we have in this country, men who are thoroughly acquainted with the country and who know the kind of work that is to be done.

Another class that we could very readily absorb is what is called the domestic servant class. I think that is a wrong appellation; perhaps we should call them "maids of industry"-cooks are now called "dietitians," so that I think we could well call the others "maids of industry." We could absorb many of them if we could get the right class.

I do not think immigrants should be brought to this country and then dumped at the port of debarkation, such as Montreal, Quebec, Toronto or any other place. Somebody who is capable, who knows the country and its necessities, should be on hand to take charge of them there. If women were amongst the immigrants, a capable woman should be available who could look after these women on their arrival and not lose track of them until they were established in some way. I can imagine going to some foreign country about which I was totally uneducated and arriving there in the night-or in the morning, no matter when. With nobody to tell me what to do or where to go, I would be practically lost. I often feel very sorry for the bunches of immigrants you see around city stations who apparently are wandering around without any knowledge of what they are going to do or where they are going. I want to impress on the minister that these people should be taken care of from the time they land in Canada until they are properly established in whatever walk of life they want to get into. I hope the minister will take that into his serious consideration.

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L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. S. W. JACOBS (Georges-Etienne Cartier) :

Mr. Speaker, I should like to

draw the attention of the House to the wording of this resolution introduced by the hon. member for St. Mary division of Montreal. The resolution reads:

Whereas the question of unemployment In our large cities has become a serious problem; whereas the Government is going to study this question; whereas in Europe this social problem is just as great a menace as here and such being the case Canada is exposed to the risk of receiving more or less undesirable immigrants ; therefore be it resolved: That, in the opinion of this House, all immigration should be suspended until a normal condition of affairs is established.

In other words, he says as soon as a normal condition of affairs is established here, then Canada can receive all the more or less undesirable immigrants who are prepared to come.

Whereas in Europe this social problem is just as great a menace as here and such being the case Canada is exposed to the risk-

I am afraid my friend from St. Mary has not given this subject the attention it requires. I rather think he is looking at the question with spectacles which will not permit him to see further than the St. Mary division of Montreal. I feel that if he had had the experience which some of us have had in this matter of immigration, he would not have introduced this resolution. I am glad to think, however, that with the possible exception of himself and the hon. member from Prescott (Mr. Proulx), who supported the resolution, no one in the House is in favour of it. I may say that I myself have introduced a resolution directly negativing, if I may so call it, the resolution of my friend from St. Mary, but it appears that his resolution having come up before mine could be reached, I shall be debarred by the rules of the House from discussing my resolution this session. I had prepared myself with a certain amount of ammunition which I intended to direct to the seat of the Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Calder), but, fortunately for the House and the minister, this ammunition is not in the House at the moment, and consequently the minister will have to possess himself in patience until the matter comes up again.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

We are not in immediate danger.

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L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

There is no immediate danger. I entirely agree with what my hon. friend from North Oxford (Mr. Nesbitt) said just a moment before he resumed his seat. I made a note of his remark, and it was this: "I know little or nothing about the subject."

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UNION
L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

I have a note of it here; that is the way it reached me. I would go so far as to say that my friend from St. Mary is in exactly the same position as the hon. member for North Oxford.

The immigration question is a great national problem. It has been said only within the last few weeks that in the solution of our national problems immigration will play a most important part. We have it from the mouth of Mr. Beatty, the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, that if our national roads are ever to be a success it will only be brought about by fostering proper immigration to this country. That 'seems only reasonable. Here is a land without people. How are three transcontinental railways to pay if we have not the people along the line of these roads? The question seems to me not to require

any discussion. We must have people if we are to make these roads pay. Yet we have gentlemen coming into this House and telling us that inasmuch as we have unemployment in one part of the country- because we have too many artisans in that part and too few in the other-therefore, we should suspend immigration, put a ban on it for a period of two years, and afterwards let down the bars and allow the tide of immigration to flow in its natural course. That, Sir, is impossible. If we discourage immigration by putting up the bars in that way, we are going to restrict it just when we need it. There may be a little unemployment in this country. I do not know what the figures of the Department of Labour show, but I fancy the condition is not serious. When I want some one to do work for me, I cannot find any one to do it.

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L LIB
L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

I did not believe that I

was so well known to all the unemployed in the Dominion of Canada. What I wish to point out is that, simply because of some temporary unemployment in certain particular lines, we ought not go so far as to put up the bars against all kinds of immigration. Ever since I have been a member of this House I have been in favour of the open door with regard to immigration-the open door with, of course, certain modifications. I would not permit a single person to come into this country if he were undesirable. But what is an undesirable citizen? A man is not an undesirable because he has no money in his pocket. If that were so, there would be a very large number of respectable people in the country who would be undesirable. Very often a man is desirable just because he has no money in his pocket, because that condition provokes ambition. Where a man comes to this country without any money, that ought to be no reason for debarring him. As a matter of fact, a very large percentage, I venture to say perhaps 90 to 95 per cent, of the people in this country who came here as immigrants came just because they were poverty-stricken-if they had been well-to-do in thier own country, they would not come to Canada. What would there be to induce a man to come here if he were well-off in his own country? They come here in order to bring up their families under the better conditions that we provide in this country; they come because similar conditions do not obtain in Europe. Yet when these people come we have all kinds of annoying restrictions

placed in their way. We have certain Orders in Council which were put into effect last fall, just previous to the winter season setting in, which further restricted immigration to this country. Only last week these Orders in Council were continued for an indefinite period. I would point out to the House that these restrictions were imposed in the absence of my friend the Minister of Immigration and Colonization. Now that he is back, when he finds out what has been done in his absence, he wil probably see to it that these restrictions are removed. It is curious that during the entire time he was here, not one step was taken to continue these restrictions, but when he was called away to the West the restrictions were imposed.

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?

Ian Alistair Mackenzie

Mr. MACKENZIE:

He left instructions to that effect.

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L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

I do not think he did,

because I happen to know the minister very well. I have had business with his department for a considerable time, and I can testify to the intimate knowledge which he has concerning the whole immigration problem. I have from time to time brought to his^ attention cases of great hardship in the matter of immigrants landing on our shores, and I must say that he has brought to the solution of the cases which I placed before him in regard to immigrants a great deal of sympathy and a very intimate knowledge of the whole immigration problem. I know that at heart the minister would really like to see these Orders in Council and all the other restrictive regulations reduced to the minimum.

My hon. friend from St. Mary cited with a great deal of satisfaction this afternoon the opinion of Sir Andrew McPhail. 1 would like to ascertain from my hon. friend whether he is in agreement with all the opinions of Sir Anderw McPhail upon other subjects as well as immigration. Some one has said that necessity makes strange bed-fellows. Still, I was surprised to see my friend from St. Mary in agreement with Sir Andrew ' McPhail even on the matter of immigration. I remember some speeches delivered by Sir Andrew during the war. Is my hon. friend from St. Mary prepared to accept the views of Sir Andrew McPhail regarding the war? And if Sir Andrew was wrong in his views of the war, does not my hon. friend think he may also be wrong in these immigration suggestions of his? I would rather have the view of a man like Mr. Beatty, who intimately knows the whole question, than that of Sir

Andrew McPhail, who, although he may be a very estimable gentleman, is at best a mere doctrinaire in the matter of immigration and is in the same class as my hon. friend from North Oxford (Mr. Nesbitt), and my hon. friend from St. Mary. My hon. friend from Prescott (Mr. Proulx) stated that the restrictions in the United States were very much more severe than those in Canada. Well, I do not think they are. I had occasion some time ago, when discussing the question of immigration, to remark that the United States makes a rule to-day and we follow it to-morrow; or, to put it differently, they take the snuff and we do the sneezing. That is the unfortunate part of the whole situation, Mr. Speaker. The United States and Canada cannot be compared in the matter of immigration. They have been taking millions of people into their country for a period of a hundred years, and in the report published only last week by the United States Department of Immigration it was stated that during the last century 33,000,000 people had entered the United States from Europe. To-day the descendants of those people constitute the United States. What are we doing? Absolutely nothing. While the Americans have over 110,000,000 people in their country, we, I venture to think, have no more than 8,000,000. So that we cannot possibly compare conditions in the two countries, and people make a mistake when they presume for a moment to do so. What kind of people come to this country?- people who want to improve their condition, and those who have not the means to set up in Europe on their own account. And there is another class of people who come to this continent, those who are obliged to leave their own countries in Europe by reason of religious and social persecution. Now, this country, it seems to me, should be the haven of rest for people of that kind, and we ought to have our doors wide open for all those who flee from persecution, social and otherwise, in European countries. During the war a great wave of sympathy went out from Canada and the United States to those people in Europe who were ground down under the heel of autocracy and other forms of persecution. At that time we were ready to say to them: "Come unto us all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and we will give you rest." But so soon as the war is over we close our doors against them and say: For our

own protection, we will not permit you to enter. When speaking on the subject of immigration a year or two ago, I related

a story which, I think, was apropos to the matter under discussion. It was a story told by a Salvation Army officer of a man whom he saw in London piloting poor cripples from one side of the street to the other, jumping from one little island, as he put it, to another. The Salvation Army officer was touched by what he supposed to be the charity of the man, and expressed his pleasure accordingly. The man replied: Why, it is not a matter of charity. You see, I have no shirt on and I carry these people from one side of the street to the other to warm my back. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we want these people to do in this country. We want them to come here to warm our backs, metaphorically speaking; because, God knows, we need it badly. If we go on much longer with our merchant marine and our national railways in their present condition, we certainly shall need someone to warm our backs, because we shall not have a shirt to our name.

My hon. friend from St. Mary, you will no doubt judge, Mr. Speaker, cannot have a very heavy foreign population in his division. I think that is a reasonable conclusion from his remarks; and I suppose, per contra, I must have a very heavy foreign population in my own division. But I trust that I am able to look at this question with a larger vision. If I felt for a moment that the advocacy of admitting large numbers of proper immigrants into this country constituted a danger to the country, I care not how many foreign or other people I have in my division, I would not advocate it. But it is because I consider that it is entirely in the interests of the country that I am in favour of the widest possible immigration, consistent, of course, with proper safeguards respecting desirability, etc., from the health and other points of view. My hon. friend from St. Mary and also the hon. member for Prescott, were evidently not aware of the fact that we have at present on the statute book, and in Orders in Council and other regulations, just such restrictions as they are asking should now be imposed by this Government. For instance, we have a regulation to the effect that no person shall be permitted to come into this country unless he is travelling from the place of his birth on a through ticket to Canada. If he comes from some of the Balkan hills where it is impossible for him to purchase a through ticket from that place to Canada, and he purchases his ticket in Antwerp, or Havre, or Liverpool, he is turned away from our shores immediately on his arrival. Surely

that is a pretty severe restriction. Well, that is one of the regulations which the Immigration Department has imposed. Where it is an absolute physical impossibility for a man to purchase a through ticket, no matter what his qualifications for citizenship may be, and no matter what sum of money he may have in his possession, he is unable to land here because he was unfortunately not in a position to see to it that the Canadian Pacific Railway, or the White Star line, or some other company, had ticket offices in the town of his birth. It will he for the Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Calder) when he replies to me, to say what it is that prompted the department to put into force a regulation of that kind. To my mind it is like the peace of God-it passeth all understanding. Then we have another regulation to the effect that no person may land in this country unless he has in his possession the sum of $250. If he has $249.99 he is looked upon as an undesirable citizen and is not permitted to land on our shores. No investigation is made as to whether he is likely to become a good citizen; nothing is done to find out whether he has relatives in this country who are able and willing to look after him; no investigation can be made by the officers at the port of entry, because the regulation states that he must have $250. If he has $250 he can land, and when that money is exhausted for living expenses-and it can last only a month or two at the most-then this man may become a public charge. But the Government feels that it has done its duty when it has seen that he has $250. Why, the man may have relatives in this country worth half a million dollars who are willing to give bonds that he will not become a public charge; but all the Government cares about is to see that he has this required sum of $250. They pay no attention to the circumstances of the man's relatives who may have come out to this country previously and done well here. Now, I say that these rules are silly, that they are foolish, and that it is not in keeping with the dignity of a country like Canada to enforce them. It is true that we have a rule which says that farmers and domestic servants can enter the country freely. But what is there to ensure that if a man enters Canada as a farmer he will go on the farm? I venture to say that fifty per cent of the people who were on farms twenty-five or thirty years ago are to-day residents of the large cities. I

venture to say that the domestic servants who came here fifteen or twenty years ago are no longer domestic servants. What are we going to do about it? How can we guarantee that a person who was a farmer on the other side of the Atlantic ocean is going to remain a farmer when he comes to this country? How can we say that a person who was a domestic servant in some European country is going to be a domestic servant here? How can we say that a man who was an artisan in the Old Land is not going to become a farmer here? How can we make watertight compartments in this country and say to immigrants: "If you declare you are a farmer we will let you in to go on the farm, but if, on the other hand, you declare that you are an artisan, even though you are willing to go on the farm, we refuse to permit you to enter the country." I say again, Mr. Speaker, all these rules require to be revamped. We ought to appoint a commission to investigate the whole question of immigration inito Canada.

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L LIB
L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

The reason I suggested a commission is because I know that such an idea will appeal to the Government. They may feel it is something that will cause the whole matter to be shelved and may thus readily grant it.

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LIB

Joseph Philippe Baby Casgrain

Liberal

Mr. CASGRAIN:

We do not want to shelve the question.

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March 30, 1921