June 19, 1942

IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I am not going to bandy words with the Prime Minister. I am not in a position to do so. Perhaps I had better confine myself to saying that that is a very generally held opinion in British Columbia. This man was always ready, in letters to the press, and speeches, and one thing and another, to boost the supposed necessity of certain rights for the Japanese: "Why not give them votes," and so on; "they are British subjects". I can only repeat that unfortunately there is that coincidence between his being brought here quite recently and the knowledge that he does hold these views of the situation. As to the other man, the Prime Minister does not refer to him, but the situation is nearly the same as far as he is concerned.

I want to pay a tribute to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell). Although working

Japanese Nationals

under a considerable handicap, he has done his part in this matter as far as he could; and as the hon. member for Kamloops said, whenever there was occasion to put his foot down he put it down, and when these people staged an incipient revolt he said, "They will be interned", and they were interned next morning. That is the kind of bold policy that we require. But he has been handicapped by the officials over there as well as some of those here. It is a hard thing to handle, because these chaps about whom we are talking have not been interned, except, of course, a number of them who became rebellious.

Under the labour commission they were paid 25 cents an hour, but they had to pay their board and contribute something toward the keep of their wives, so that by and large they figured that they did not have much left, whereas if they went on a sit-down strike, or if they were insolent to their guards, they were liable to be interned. So that the worst that could happen to them would be to be interned, and then they would get 20 cents a day and would not have to work at all. When they are interned they can devote their energies to making representations to whatever nation represents them-I am not sure whether it is Spain-submitting their complaints to that representative, and if they do not get the treatment and the food to which they think they are entitled under the Geneva convention, they have an excuse to grumble. They can say that they do not care whether they go to school or not, because the worst that can happen to them is to be interned and therefore they are better off. That, I admit, has handicapped the minister.

The hon. member for Fraser Valley (Mr. Cruickshank) said that there was considerable discontent in British Columbia with the gentleman who has been handling the security commission. I have not the time to look up the facts now, but a few weeks ago I quoted a case where the Japs had engaged, not in any sit-down strike, but in open revolt in the immigration buildings in Vancouver. They tore away everything that was tearable and threw it out of the windows; they broke windows and threw out the frames and everything else that was movable. The disturbance had to be suppressed by soldiers, who came out with their bayonets, and when the Japs saw this they collapsed. But when the matter came to be commented on by the chairman of the commission he merely dismissed it with a wave of his hand and said that it was nothing more than a demonstration of a spirit of good humour and playfulness-exuberance, he

called it. I suppose, if they had dropped bombs on the place, or if they had inflicted [Mr. Neill. 1

injury on the guards, it would have been regarded as playfulness just the same. He pooh-poohed the whole thing as if it were merely a spirit of good humour and raillery. That is the way he described it, but that was not the way it was described by the people in British Columbia.

There are three things that I should like to urge upon the government at this time. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) will correct me if I am wrong; but he wrote to me the other day to the effect that in view of complaints which I, in common with others, had made with regard to the inadequacy of the guards and the handicap under which they were operating, the whole matter would be looked into. There was no earthly hope of maintaining proper supervision with three men bearing rifles having to look after 300 men. These Japs could easily get round these men, ask for a match or something of the sort, and stick a knife into them. What control would three men have over 300 under such circumstances? I brought the matter to the attention of the minister, and he said he would endeavour to have a senior official of another department sent there to investigate the situation, because these guards do not care to talk. If the situation gets abroad, the first thing you know, a newspaperman comes on the scene and asks the guards questions. He will ask a guard what he knows about the situation and, if the guard is not a fool, he says, "I know nothing." That is easily understood; his job is at stake, and while he may talk to someone else, he will certainly not discuss matters if he is afraid that he may get into trouble. It was proposed that a senior official be sent out to talk to these men, to get them by themselves and elicit the actual facts. If that was done-and I hope it was-then I suggest it is about time we had a report on what took place.

The next suggestion I wish to make is with regard to the police force. I submit that a larger police force should be placed in these camps. It is altogether inadequate to have three men guarding 300-300 men wandering about loose. I suppose the guards sleep sometimes, and that would mean that if they worked in three shifts, only one would be on duty at a time. If this were a guard of honour it would be all right, but this is war, and these are brutal, cruel people. There may be some good ones, but we do not know which is which. There may be some men there who mean us no harm, but there are undoubtedly others who are there for a deliberate purpose which is injurious to the country. We cannot therefore afford to play with the thing. It would be all right if we were not at war, but under

Javanese Nationals

present circumstances, where these men are less than a quarter of a mile from a bridge which could be blown up, cutting British Columbia off from the east, the matter becomes one of very grave importance.

Following the remarks of other members, the third point on which I wish to speak for just one moment is this. I have already referred to it, but I cannot too soon reiterate it now so that it will not be said afterwards that the government did not know about it. It is the feeling of the people in British Columbia, and it would be the feeling of the people in the rest of the country I am sure, if they were wise and informed, that at the close of the war these men should not be sent back to British Columbia but should be expatriated. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) talks about feelings of humanity, but I suggest that our duty is first to the people of Canada. This has been a canker all along, and it will become worse and worse-it is nothing but a canker in the heart of the country. These people are breeding rapidly, and they have but one mind: first and last

they are Japanese. This is the time to take the necessary action in regard to them, when there are but 22,000 or 23,000, and not when we are overrun with 200,000 or 300,000.

I would impress upon the minister the importance of looking into these three points that I have brought up: first, a definite report on conditions; second, with regard to increasing the police force; and, finally, the question of disposing of these Japanese at the end of the war. I suggest that we should make up our minds now and prepare for the post-war situation, because I do not think we should contemplate for one moment sending these Japanese back to British Columbia. We should expatriate them to Japan at the end of the war.

Topic:   JAPANESE NATIONALS
Subtopic:   SITUATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (Minister of Labour):

I would say to the hon. member for Kamloops (Mr. O'Neill) that had I known the discussion was to come up this afternoon, I would have had more facts before me.

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

None of us knew.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

Nevertheless I am not ashamed; in fact I am proud of the progress we have made in removing the Japanese from British Columbia to other parts of Canada. The problem is directly under the jurisdiction of the British Columbia security commission. I do not know the politics of the members of the commission; I do not even know the politics of the advisory council, but I think hon. members will agree with me that it was a sound decision, when the movement of Japanese had to be made, to set up a commission on the ground, 3,000 miles away, with the necessary power to undertake major

policy in this regard for the government. I think time will vindicate that decision. Of course, we may reach the stage where it will be more practical, when the movement is completed, to have it under the direction probably of the Department of Labour or of some other department with a senior civil servant in charge, but I think credit should go to that commission. It was a job which many would not like to undertake, and as I sat here this afternoon I wondered that we had moved a single Japanese.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Why?

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

For this reason, that everybody takes a parochial point of view. When we first started to move the Japanese no province wanted them. What would my hon. friends in British Columbia say if we wanted to move all the Germans in eastern Canada to British Columbia?

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

If it were for

national defence it would be undertaken.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

Wait until the time comes, but do not forget this: it will not be said about me that I did not act in the traditional British way with regard to these Japanese. It is not going to be written on the pages of this country's history that I treated these Japanese in any way different from the treatment that is accorded persons in the same situation throughout the British commonwealth. Let the Japanese do what they will; let the Germans do what they will; but I hope that this government and this country will uphold the true traditions of the British people in matters such as this.

The hon. member for Kamloops said that the men were dictating the policy of the camps. While I have anything to do with the matter, as long as the foremen act decently they will not be dictated to by the men in these camps. Only the other day we had a strike in one of the camps because they wanted a foreman removed. That was the camp where they were put on two meals a day- two good meals, might I say-and through that policy we were able to straighten out the difficulty.

I am not going to say to the House of Commons that we shall not have trouble in these camps. You can not have large bodies of men, whether Japanese, Canadians or what have you, without having occasional outbreaks. I think I should say also that of course we have had difficulties. Only the other day four thousand German prisoners came to New York to be interned in this country, on very short notice, and we have been confronted with difficulties of this kind. At the moment we have not sufficient space in our

Japanese Nationals

internment camps, though within the next few days we hope to have accommodation available to take care of another seven hundred men.

I am just answering these points as they were brought up. The hon. member for Fraser Valley (Mr. Cruickshank) said something about seeing men going to the beet fields in western Ontario, and that some of them had cameras. With regard to these people I would say that they volunteered to go there, and according to my reports they are doing a good job. Let us be fair and decent about the matter. Goodness knows there is a terrific shortage of labour in the beet fields of this country; and if these men behave themselves and work as they should, I do not think we should raise any objection to things like that. I might also say how difficult the removal of these people is made when they are painted in the colours in which some hon. members painted them this afternoon. When my department and the security commission go to the provincial governments in order to arrange the removal of the Japanese from British Columbia to the other provinces, things like this make it difficult not only for them but also for ourselves to carry out this policy. At the moment two members of the British Columbia security commission are in conference with the government of Ontario endeavouring to arrange to remove Japanese families from British Columbia to the farms of this province. For my part I hope that can be worked out; it will be a constructive step. The hon. member for Fraser Valley laughs, but I want to say to him that any fool can spend money. This government could have put these people on a rock pile in Alberta, we will say. That is not clever. Again my hon. friend laughs. I would rather see these people spread over the country, working at productive employment; I should prefer that even to have them working in the road camps which British Columbia wanted to build in order to complete their road system. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot have your roads built with the Japanese in Ontario; they must be in British Columbia. That is the only way you can build roads there. You cannot argue both ends against the middle, as some hon. gentlemen have been trying to do this afternoon.

I think I have covered the matter sufficiently. There was a point raised by the hon. member for Yale (Mr. Stirling) with respect to the Japanese having intermediaries purchase land for them. At the moment an investigation is being made by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to see if this is being done; and, if it is, steps will be taken to correct the situation.

IMr. Mitchell.]

In conclusion, I just want to say that I am informed by the British Columbia security commission that they hope the movement will be cleaned up within the next six weeks. I want to say also to the Japanese government that we welcome any investigation by the representatives of the Spanish government in this country, who at the moment are looking after the interests of Japan here, or by the International Red Cross. I think, after that investigation is made, our treatment of these people will be found to compare favourably with the best treatment of any interned aliens in the world, and we should be proud of that too. I hope that may be written into the pages of our history, because, after all is said and done, we have some of our own flesh and blood in Japan, and we must not forget that. As I have said before, I know the Japanese; I fought with them in the last war. When it comes to ruthlessness there is not a nation on the face of the earth that can compare with the Japanese. But let it be said of us that at least we set them an example, so that our young men in the Straits Settlements and in Japan may get the treatment we think they should get. Let it never be said that an excuse for the ill-treatment of those young men of ours might be made of the way in which we treated the Japanese in this country. I think that is a practical approach to the problem; I believe what I have said is sound, and I think we might well be proud of the way we have undertaken this very difficult problem, under extremely severe and sometimes might I say, unfair criticism.

Topic:   JAPANESE NATIONALS
Subtopic:   SITUATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

Some time ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) announced that he hoped negotiations might be carried through for the exchange of Japanese and Canadian nationals. Has any headway been made in those negotiations?

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I have no knowledge of that.

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

Perhaps the Prime Minister could tell us.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition):

It is with some hesitation that I intrude into this discussion any views I hold with regard to this matter. In the first place, we are all more or less unprepared to discuss an important matter such as this at short notice, especially those of us who have no official information. Let me say at once to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) that with respect to the humaneness of the attitude of this government, I think the people of Canada will sustain him in the principle he is endeavouring to enunciate. It must not be

Japanese Nationals

said that we departed from the spirit of British fair play with respect to a matter of this nature, not so much because of fear of reprisals, which must be an important and almost a dominant factor in dealing with a matter of this kind but, if I may say so, for our own self-respect. I do not think it should be ever urged that because the Japanese are brutal, because they do not obey the laws and instincts of humanity, we should descend to the same level.

Having said that, let me say that I do believe the administration approached this problem with a good deal of hesitation and delay. I do not believe even the boldest spokesman for the government would say that they adopted a great deal of courage in dealing with this matter at its inception. There must have been in the minds of the administration, those who had studied this question, the knowledge that once Japan was at war with the united nations, we would have to be prepared for the worst with regard to what might happen on the part of Japanese nationals within our own territorial limits. Nevertheless I think the administration dallied with the matter. Finally a policy was established. I do not know who gave birth to it, but at the start it gave promise of developing into a method whereby a solution might be reached. That policy was the establishment of a security commission on the spot; and, looking at the matter as dispassionately as one can, I think the basis of the policy was sound, nor up to the moment have I heard anything which would merit condemnation of the theory behind that policy. But I will say that from the information which has reached me and from all the information that has been placed on record by hon. members from British Columbia, the security commission either found it difficult to act promptly and effectively or did not so act for other reasons.

I suggest to the government that there should be given to the people of British Columbia, our own flesh and blood, a feeling of security with respect to the possibilities that may eventuate from the presence of these Japanese there. This just cannot be done by the methods which I understand are in vogue. For instance, I am told there are three guards in a camp of 300 men, one guard on duty at a time. He carries one rifle and twelve rounds of ammunition. Why, simply to state this is to bring ridicule on the means adopted by the security commission to attain the ends sought.

Let the Minister of Labour, in whose charge this matter rests-although I believe five different departments of government have had something to do with it-set up a force sufficiently large and strong, and sufficiently capable to enforce order and discipline, and to

see that these men work while they are within the jurisdiction of the security commission. Not only that; let it be a force large enough to see that no sabotage is carried on. That is an important point raised by the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid) and other hon. members. They have pointed out that these Japanese are left in a position whereby, with one stick of dynamite and lacking proper care, they could disrupt the transportation systems between British Columbia and the prairies.

Surely this is evidence of weakness. I am not condemning the government. They acted slowly at first. I believe that at least in theory the principle of the system they set up was sound, but it has not had power enough in its elbow. It has not used the power in its elbow to a sufficient degree. I suggest that a force of men be put in there, at the country's expense, to see that there is no sabotage, that there are no sit-down strikes and that discipline is maintained. All that can be done, and done humanely, too. My suggestion to the gov-ernmeilt is to strengthen the force they have there, and to see that when an order is given it is carried out.

I am not saying anything about expatriation after the war is over. I have no doubt that every white man in British Columbia would like to have that policy carried out. It may be a right policy, but I do not like to express an opinion upon it without further information. However, I could certainly visualize the difficulty of carrying out such a policy.

Topic:   JAPANESE NATIONALS
Subtopic:   SITUATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Is any limit placed on the amount of money the British Columbia security commission can spend in connection with the disposition of the Japanese? Must the security commission, in dealing with any given group of Japanese, first have reference to the amount of money available?

Topic:   JAPANESE NATIONALS
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I do not understand the hon. member's point.

Mr. BLACKMORE; How much money is at the disposal of the British Columbia security commission in dealing with the Japanese situation?

Topic:   JAPANESE NATIONALS
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

There is no restriction. I thought at first the hon. member was talking about individual Japanese.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

There is no limit.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

We have to face up to each problem as it presents itself.

Topic:   JAPANESE NATIONALS
Subtopic:   SITUATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Has any proposal of the commission for the disposition of Japanese been rejected by the dominion government, for reasons of finance?

Japanese Nationals

Topic:   JAPANESE NATIONALS
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LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order; we are not in committee.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I would say no.

Mr. T. J. O'NEILL (Kamloops): There are many observations I could make in rebuttal to some of the statements made to-day. It is my understanding, however, that the rules of the house do not permit of that procedure.

All I wish to do is to thank the house for its indulgence, and to thank those who have taken part in the discussion. I believe my purpose has been well served. If the government were not alive to what was going on in British Columbia, they will be alive to it now.

I say, in apology to the hon. member for Fraser Valley (Mr. Cruickshank), the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) and others who voiced their regret that I had not given a little notice, that I am not built along those lines. When I decide to do something I believe that now is the appointed time to do it. I decided when I was entering the house that now was the time and now was the hour.

I move for the withdrawal of the motion.

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June 19, 1942