Hon. T. A. CRERAR (Minister of Mines and Resources) moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 102, to amend the Immigration Act.
He said: Mr. Speaker, more than two-thirds of the amendments provided by this bill relate to changes necessitated by the reorganization of the department into the Department of Mines and Resources. As hon. members are aware, formerly there was a department of immigration with its own officers such as deputy minister and assistant deputy minister. Under the reorganization these offices disappeared. Under the Immigration Act specific duties were imposed upon the officers I have mentioned, and it is necessary to have certain sections of the act amended in order to bring them in line with the reorganization.
There are some other amendments which I believe could be explained more fully on
second reading. As I recall, one relates to the matter of domicile. A Canadian who is absent from Canada for more than six years loses the right of domicile in Canada. That is a hardship, particularly as it applies to missionaries in foreign lands and agents of commercial companies in offices outside Canada. Indeed, in connection with our own Department of External Affairs there- may be secretaries or clerks resident in a minister's office in Japan, for example, and under the law if they remain there for more than six years they lose their right of Canadian domicile.
There are further changes relating to the more rigid examination of immigrants entering Canada from Great Britain or European countries in respect of an ailment known as trachoma. There is a further provision for the refunding of deposits made by steamship companies when one of a steamship crew deserts at a port such as Vancouver or Montreal. There is no provision in the law at the present time for the return of the $300 deposit exacted from those companies. In many instances a deserter may drop off one ship and join another in a couple of weeks, but we have no power to return the deposit we compel the steamship company to leave with the department. There are one or two other minor amendments which I shall be pleased to explain more fully when the bill is in committee.
I might say for the information of the house that there is not a single thing in this bill that enlarges in any way the matter of immigration into Canada. The amendments are all of the character I have described and are necessary for the efficient functioning of the act.
Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.