April 8, 1927


Hon. W. D. EULER (Minister of Customs and Excise) moved the second reading of Bill No. 281 to amend an act of the present session intituled: "An act respecting the Department of National Revenue." Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, considered in committee, reported, read the third time and passed.


IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT

REPEAL OP PROVISION FOR DEPORTATION OP CERTAIN CLASSES


The House resumed from Thursday, April 7, the adjourned debate on the -motion of the Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Forke) for the second reading of Bill No. 269 to amend the Immigration Act.


CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. R. B. BENNETT (West Calgary):

Mr. Speaker, when I adjourned the debate last evening I was endeavouring to point out that no harm can be done by permitting this statute to remain as part of the law of this country.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order. I cannot -hear the hon. gentleman.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Let us look at the

statute and see if there is any reason why it should be repealed.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Louder, please.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Immigration Act-Mr. Bennett

it the policy of the people and government of Canada to place a premium on alien agitators being permitted to rave against the crown of Britain, against the crown of Canada, and against the government in Canada? Since when did we desire to place our imprimatur upon favouring agitators of that character? All we -are doing outside of the Criminal Code now is simply to say that we are not going to the trouble of having a long trial and all the accompanying agitation in the public press, magnifying these men into heroes. No, we are merely going to send them back to the country they came from; that is all.

Take the United States of America. They talk of liberty and freedom, and practise it, they say, more than any other people in the world. Would they permit the repeal of a section such as that? Look at the deportations from that country now. Look at the Canadians they have sent back. Look at England refusing to vise passports for certain persons wanting to enter the United States. Look at the action of the United States with respect to undesirables at Ellis Island and at other points.

Why repeal this section now when the 'effect of it is simply to enable us at a moment of great peril, when we are sure of our facts, to send these undesirable persons back to the country they came from? I do submit, Mr. Speaker, that this is not the time to repeal it. I can see no reason why the government having discharged its duty, as I understand it, to the hon. gentleman, having promised to do something and having done it, should any longer press this legislation in 1927 upon the attention of this House in the closing days of the session, for I know hon. gentlemen opposite are quite as desirous as I am of maintaining law and order in Canada, and are quite as desirous as I am of maintaining our institutions and our form of government, quite as desirous as anyone on this side of the House that there should be orderly and regulated conduct of the business of this country. Then why remove from the Immigration Act this provision.

My friend from Winnipeg, I suppose, would say that the Criminal Code gives us ample opportunity to deal, with these men, but that is the very thing we do not want to use. The United States has found that out by experience, and she simply deports them, instead of exalting these people into heroes, with all the talk about freedom of speech and deporting people without giving them the opportunity of a trial by a jury of their countrymen. That is not the principle of

the law at all. Deportation is not punishment. The criminal law is in operation for the punishment of the offender, and for deterring others; it is to punish those who violate our laws. But deiportation is to send out of our country undesirable citizens, and when this House votes to repeal a section such as that, indirectly it says that it is satisfied that thiaJt class of person is not an undesirable person. To retain the section cannot do harm: it may do good. It cannot interfere with liberty, because it does not deal with British subjects, and since when did an alien have any right to protection in this country other than to be protected in his life and property, and be sent out of the country if he proved undesirable? How many people are sent out of the United States as undersirable? How many are sent out of Russia and other countries? Why should Canada repeal this section which enables us to deal with these people? That is a question I leave with the minister, and I cannot think for a single moment that he is serious in asking us to repeal a section such as this which gives us this protection-a protection that can be put into operation without recourse to the courts of law, with all the costs that go with criminal trials, and all the effort that is made to magnify into heroes these people who would destroy our institutions, and all the talk about the poor stranger and the foreigner within our gates. It is not that. This is merely the exercise of the high right of sovereignty with respect to the citizenship of Canada. It is merely saying that we as a people will keep without our borders undesirable persons who are promulgating these doctrines; that is all, and I do submit that the bill Should not pass.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

The hon. member for West

Calgary (Mr. Bennett) has seen fit to make an appeal to me in this matter, although I cannot quite see why he should do so, seeing that this is a government bill.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Because the letter was

addressed to you.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Yes, a letter was

addressed to me last year with regard to this matter, but I would point out to the hon. member that legislation of this character was introduced by the government in preceding years. I have no doubt whatever that the government itself has received from every section of this country, protests against this legislation which was placed on the statute books in 1919. The hon. member for West Calgary has held up the United States as a model for us in this regard. Some of us

Immigration Act-Mr. Woodsworth

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I will come to that

would prefer to take Great Britain rather than the United States as a model. In England they have maintained a very considerable degree of freedom of speech, and the liberty of the subject has been a good deal more carefully guarded than in the United States. In fact, usually it has been our boast that justice is better served in England than in ithe United States. I dlo not quite see why the hon. member should hold up the United States as our model in this regard.

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART (Leeds):

Does this bill

apply to British subjects?

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Yes, and I am coming to that. I had not thought, after the debates of the three or four years past, that it would be necessary for us to say very much in regard to this measure, but I would point out to my hon. friend from West Calgary that, with regard to the legal aspects of this question, we could not do better than read the presentation which Senator Dandurand made last year in the Senate. I think that nowhere can a more carefully worded legal case be found than that which was presented last year. I desire to point out a few particulars incorporated into the bill with their bearings upon the right of freedom in this country. Here is one phrase that is used in the bill:

Anyone who assumes any powers of government in Canada-

That is a very broad phrase and has been interpreted in a very broad fashion. If, for example, a company should maintain its own police force it is thereby assuming what is in reality a governmental function. Of course as a matter of fact nobody would prosecute a huge corporation, even though its officials had assumed governmental functions. In the case however of an industrial dispute, when certain labour people attempt to exercise discipline over their membership, it may be interpreted as the assumption of powers of government. Another phrase in the act reads: Anyone who by common repute belongs to, or is suspected of belonging to-

I submit that is going altogether too far, even with the word " criminal There are many people who, by common repute, are desperate characters. I see the hon. member for Labelle smiling. I am quite sure that in certain sections of the country, by common repute, he is far from being a worthy citizen of Canada.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

He is a British subject.

later. That clause as drawn reads:

Any man who by common repute belongs to, or is suspected of belonging to, any secret organization.

When did suspicion on the part of the general public become a ground for condemnation?

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

A subject for deportation. '

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I will come to that

later. When did suspicion become a ground for condemnation? Then further than that, such allegations or suspicions with regard to any citizen mean that he may be classed among the prohibited or undesirable class.

I have a good deal of sympathy with hon. members of this House who have given no particular attention to the act. It is very complicated and perhaps skilfully drawn. I am not quite sure-to give credit to those who are responsible for the drawing of the act-that those who drew the act quite recognized how far-reaching it was. In another part of the act there is a clause *which says that anyone who belongs to the prohibited classes cannot establish domicile in Canada. That means that it makes no difference whether a man has been here, one, five or twenty-five years; so long as he belongs to the prohibited class, it is impossible for him to establish what is technically known as domicile in Canada.

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CON

Franklin Smoke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SMOKE:

Prima facie.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

He cannot establish domicile in Canada. That is the serious part. He may be deported. Even although he has been a resident of Canada for a great number of years, he becomes liable to deportation. In the second section we read:

2. Proof that any person belonged to or was within the description of any of the prohibited or undesirable classes -within the meaning of this section at any time since the fourth day of May, one thousand nine hundred and ten, shall, for all the purposes of this act be deemed to establish prima facie that he still belongs to such prohibited or undesirable class or classes.

If in the past a man had belonged to an undesirable organization or secret society, or any other prohibited class, he may have migrated to this country and completely changed his whole manner of life, but if he is accused by anyone or even suspected of belonging to these classes, the very fact that he once belonged to such a class is considered prima facie evidence. I do not think that is a fair provision. The onus of proof ought

2100 COMMONS

Immigration Act-Mr. Woodsworth

not to be upon the accused man. The burden of proof ought to rest with the authorities or those who accuse him.

I come now to the important part which has been stressed by the hon. member for West Calgary. I believe he has made the objection because he has not carefully read the act. He claims that a British subject is not liable under this clause. I affirm-and again I would refer him to the presentation of Senator Dandurand-that a man born in England, a British subject is liable under this act.

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April 8, 1927