April 22, 1932

IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I have not the agreement before me, but I am familiar with it as I had a great deal to do with its being brought about. By that gentleman's agreement it was arranged that hereafter-it was not so before-Japanese immigrants would be subject to the immigration laws of Canada, except only that they could bring in seventy-five adults of a certain restricted class and seventy-five women and children each year. It is quite possible that that agreement was framed to carry out a well-known oriental expression, "to save their face". The Japanese said they did not mind so much being excluded if we insisted on it, but they did not want it to be done by force of ' law as though they were an inferior people. But it was distinctly understood, and so expressed if I am not mistaken, that they would take no exception to any restrictions on the immigration of their people, providing those restrictions were common to the world at large. They said: You can restrict us altogether, if you restrict white people too. So if the government in August, 1930, had said: "This order in council will also apply to the oriental people," the Japanese could not have made any objection, because they would have been treated in the same way as white people. I think the government has been remiss in not applying that principle, for now we have this very unsatisfactory condition- certain white men from continental Europe cannot come in, but they see 150 Japanese being allowed to enter every year by means of this agreement. I think the minister might well consider the application of that general restriction. I am sure the Japanese would not find any fault under the circumstances.

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LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

The government seems to have reversed their policy. Not so many months ago a young man came out from England of his own volition, paying his own way. He was held up at Halifax and informed that he could not land. He had very well-to-do

relatives in the city of Winnipeg. They corresponded with the department, but were unavailing in their efforts to have their brother remain in this country. My assistance was sought, and I telegraphed the department that the young man's relatives were prepared to post S500 and guarantee his support for five years at least. The reply I got from the deputy minister was: Would I take the responsibility of advising that this man be allowed to enter Canada and take the bread out of the mouth of another Canadian? That seems to me to be a decided reversal of policy.

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CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Could the hon. gentleman

give me the name?

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LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

Not offhand. I telegraphed the deputy minister and wrote the minister. Let me cite another case. A young lad was brought to this country by his parents when he was about five years of age. His father eventually became naturalized. When the boy was twenty-six years of age he went to visit relatives in the States, stayed there for about eight months, and then had a mighty hard time trying to get back into Canada. He spoke no language but English. He was not familiar with the language of his parents who had come from central or southern Europe. I am not sure whether he did finally get back here or was sent to the old country because the American authorities held him up as being an alien, and when he was not permitted to reenter Canada it looked as if he would be sent back to Poland or some other European country, where he would have been considerably more of an alien than in this land. I mention these two cases because it seems to me rather strange that they were treated in this manner only two months ago and now we hear that thousands of immigrants are being permitted to enter this country. I certainly would be the last man to keep families separated. I think that wives should certainly be permitted to join their husbands and children their parents, but apart from that I do think that none from outside should be permitted to enter Canada at this time.

My former remarks seemed to cause considerable apprehension in the mind of my hon. friend from Bow River. I was suggesting that this government might well assist the movement which is now going on in Winnipeg, to place unemployed families on the land, not to make farmers of them, but to place them on the land where they could make a living for themselves.

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LIB
LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

They would not necessarily have to go extensively into the business of grain farming. I might say to my hon. friend who has interrupted that one of the difficulties we have had in this country in the past is that too many people have gone on the land for no other purpose than to grow grain. Lots of people with no idea of living in their homes on the land go out into the country in the summer, put in a crop and harvest it with machinery, and then move back into town when winter comes along.

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PRO
LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

But the fact remains that it does occur and has occurred, and that is probably one of the reasons why there have been failures in grain farming on an extensive scale in western Canada and other places.

The problem we are up against now is: what is this country going to do with these unemployed? There is no possible chance that I can see of manufacturing industry being able to absorb the hundreds of thousands of idle people that we have in this country at the present time. Every community throughout Canada is burdened with unemployed men, and those people who have some little resources left are called upon to help feed these hundreds of thousands of people. A very large number of these unemployed have expressed their desire to go back to the land with a little bit of assistance, and get their living from the soil. I would submit to the minister and to the committee that from the earliest days of history human beings have always taken their living from the land. They cannot take it from paved roads or city streets. There is only one place they can take a living from, and that is from the land, and hundreds of people just now are prepared to make the trial. Since the cities and communities of Canada are feeding these unemployed month after month and year after year, it seems to me it would be a saving in the long run if they were given an opportunity to make this trial.

The hon. member who criticized my remarks and those of some others of us said that the proposal was ill made and ill thought out. The Winnipeg city council and the members of the provincial government in Manitoba have decided that it is not ill made and not ill thought out, and they are endeavouring to provide considerable funds to send hundreds of these men to the country where they will probably be able to make a living. There is no suggestion that they be put on quarter-sections and be made fully fledged farmers,

or anything of that kind. The idea is that they will be able to sow enough vegetables and raise enough poultry and what not to enable themselves and their families to live. The objection was offered by the hon. member for Bow River that it would cost an unreasonable amount of money to establish these men. I wrouId point out to the minister and to the committee that there are communities in Manitoba where men have gone back to the land without any funds at all and we do not hear any complaints from them to-day. I grant you that they came originally from southern Europe, and that they did not spend very much money on automobiles or picture shows or other modem sources of entertainment and amusement. But the fact is that it can be done, and that people can go back on a productive piece of land and get a living from it.

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PRO
LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

That is the problem that presents itself to the several governments. These people will have to be supplied with the land and with a few hundred dollars. There seems to be no prospect of ending this process of feeding hundreds of thousands of people; we cannot kill them off, drown them or shoot them. We have to feed them, and if they are given a chance to feed themselves it is possible that they may make some headway.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I have been trying for some time to get an opportunity to ask a supplementary question of the minister along the line which has just now been spoken of by the hon. member for St. Boniface. I do not intend to enter upon a discussion of the merits of the scheme, but the fact is, as I said earlier, that the Winnipeg city council and the province of Manitoba have endorsed a certain scheme. The minister told me a little while ago that his department was not prepared to give financial aid to this scheme.

There is another point which I think ought to be cleared up, and it would be of very great help to the committee in Winnipeg if it were cleared up at the present time. Supposing that so many hundreds of these unemployed men were actually placed on the land as a mere relief measure, would this government be prepared to give, say, the one-third of what it would otherwise cost them for relief if these people had remained in the city, and thus assist to that degree in the carrying out of the scheme? I think we ought to have a very definite answer, yes or

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no, as it would materially help the Winnipeg committee to know what they can expect from Ottawa.

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CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

It is obvious that any such action as that would have to be of general application all over Canada. The province of Saskatchewan are doing this very thing themselves in conjunction with their cities. The province of Quebec has adopted another method of encouraging the return to the farm lands of that province. With respect to the other provinces I am not presently acquainted with what they are doing. I am not yet prepared to agree that this is primarily a responsibility of the dominion. As I said in my observations an hour or so ago, many schemes have been started. I have investigated a lot of them, and I must say that while they were started undoubtedly with the best of intentions. they could not hope to go forward with any degree of success because the people who started them were more enthusiastic about the theory than thejr were acquainted, in my view, with the actual facts of how to assist people on to the land. It strikes me that to be a. successful farmer, and I say this subject to correction bj' any of those who have spent their lives on the land, you require a good deal of training to know how to make headway on a farm, and of course everyone will agree with me that you also need an abundance of courage. I think it would be a great mistake just to take people who happen to be unemployed and put them on a farm. I think no useful purpose would be served, and one season would not pass before they would forget even to thank us for our efforts. I believe they must have the desire to go on the land and must have some agricultural background. True, an odd one who has not had experience may succeed, but from my talks with men who should know-and I believe, do know-I learn it is most essential that we do not take people who are utterly inexperienced, and put them out on the land. They would suffer great hardships.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

In the judgment of the minister, any relief assistance granted by the Dominion government could not be diverted to help any scheme of that kind?

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CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

The subject has been given a great deal of consideration. I do not wish to appear to be one who is not prepared to put forth every effort to help as much as possible. I do not think however that time has yet arrived-and I hope it will not arrive-when in Canada we have to begin a system of state-aided colonization. The other phase of the matter has a good deal of merit,

[Mr. Woodsworth.J

namely to capitalize what we know we might have to pay to a certain person for purposes of direct relief, and help to establish him on a farm. If the provinces cannot discharge their legislative responsibilities, and find themselves hopelessly insolvent-I hope none of them do, and I believe they are not in that position- then they may make out a case whereby the federal government would be justified in adopting throughout Canada a plan such as that suggested by the hon. member.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

As I said earlier, I am sorry to be so insistent. The committee in Winnipeg knows perfectly well that if the scheme is to go through this year it must be proceeded with within the next few days. We have had warm weather in Winnipeg, and they are urging the government to give the necessary yes or no with regard to their proposition for the present season. * I ask the minister just to say yes or no; with whatever he says I shall be quite satisfied. I should like however to have a direct answer which would enable the committee in Winnipeg to know what it may expect from the government.

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CON

William Walker Kennedy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KENNEDY (Winnipeg South Centre):

Representing one of the Winnipeg constituencies, I was deeply interested in the remarks of the hon. member for St. Boniface (Mr. Howden) and I heartily support the principle put forward by him. In the matter of unemployment Winnipeg has a burden upon its shoulders which is daily becoming more unbearable. In that city the idea of assisting to relieve the unemployed by putting them on the land has received a good deal of consideration. As I understand it there is no suggestion indiscriminately to place upon the land people without any agricultural background. In the city of Winnipeg, however, as in many other centres throughout Canada, there are people who in more prosperous days, for one reason or another, picked up their belongings and moved from the rural to the urban centres. What caused them to do so is not of importance, but the fact is that many unemployed in the city of Winnipeg-and I know it-are experienced agriculturists and, having found that the bright lights of the city are not as wonderful as they had thought, are now hungry to go back to the land.

I do not think the present is the time to debate whether or not the duty is primarily that of the federal government, the provincial government or the administration in the city of Winnipeg. We are faced with certain given facts, and we know that since the special session of 1930 the federal government has

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seen fit to cooperate not only in principle but with funds to relieve the unemployment situation through public works undertakings and payments of direct relief. If the federal government has funds to assist in the erection of buildings in the city of Winnipeg, if it can expend federal moneys for food, clothing and fuel to effect direct relief, then there is no technical reason why funds could not be provided to place unemployed men on the land, if it is deemed expedient so to do.

I urge upon the serious consideration of the minister the facts brought out so forcibly by the hon. member for St. Boniface, and the suggestion that the- government seriously consider endeavouring to work out a plan along the line suggested iby the hon. member. It is my understanding that before prorogation there will be introduced such further legislation as may be necessary to deal with unemployment. It is not for me to say, nor do I know what the nature of that legislation will be. However the public press carries information, or what purports to be information, to the effect that the relief granted will be confined to what is known as direct relief. In my opinion it would be deplorable if relief were confined to direct relief.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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UFA

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. KENNEDY (Winnipeg):

I hope such will not be the case, but that whatever legislation is introduced in the house will be sufficiently wide that the measure of aid to be granted will not be confined to direct relief. In that connection it is my hope that in working out the relief scheme this matter of placing those who are well qualified and anxious and hungry to go on the land will be fitted into the program. The hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Campbell) asked: Where would they get the farms? That situation has been canvassed. I know that in the province of Manitoba there are many abandoned farms. There is no suggestion of putting people out into the wilderness or the bush; abandoned farms are available. Many of them are available because of abandonment which took place as a result of the soldiers' settlement scheme. Farms were bought at a price far beyond their intrinsic value, with the result that there have come back to the municipalities farms which were once well cultivated, and with substantial buildings situated thereon. Titles to them have reverted either to the municipalities, for taxes, or to the crown. They are improved; the buildings are going to ruin, and the land-and it is good land- is growing up with weeds. Certainly there is a tremendous economic waste. The suggestion has been made that under the proposed settlement scheme these lands might be carefully selected and be made availaible at a mere nominal value. If they were given by the municipality or by the crown to the individuals placed thereon, to my mind that in itself would be a good investment. They would then become productive, which would mean revenue to the municipalities in which they were located. I have very great pleasure in taking advantage of this opportunity to urge strongly upon the minister the advisability of keeping an open mind on that question and endeavouring to work it out.

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LIB
UFA

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. KENNEDY (Winnipeg):

Let me answer that in this way. I would suggest that in working it out there be a committee, and without casting any reflection upon members of either the legislature of Manitoba or this house I would suggest that the members of the committee be not politicians, not members of either assembly, but practical business men and agriculturists wdio would choose the locations and judge as to the suitability of the individuals desiring to be so placed. With regard to the capital, that could be provided jointly by the governments and the municipalities, as has been done in the matter of direct relief. This could be done instead of merely supplying a man with food and lodging; it would give him a stake and a real chance. Even though there were many failures, with a fair percentage of successes the scheme would be worth while. When you give direct relief the relief is only temporary. It seems to me the other system has more vision to it; you are really giving a man a stake in the country.

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April 22, 1932