June 26, 1954

LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

The hon. member made that statement on a former occasion, and I believe I corrected him at that time. I pointed out that when he used the word "English" he was referring to English people, and not to Scottish, Welsh or Irish. Whereas, for our purposes we lump them together; and I think most people do that in Canada. The people of Canada think in terms of the British people, people from the British Isles. And I am sure if my hon. friend would use that classification he would not be indicating, as he is about to do now, that people of British origin are about fifth in order.

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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

No, by no means; I had no intention of saying that at all. These groups I am speaking of are exclusive of the ones I mentioned earlier. I am speaking of the 39 different groups, other than English, Irish, Scotch, Welsh and French, who have entered this country. And I was giving the four, in their order of importance. I was not attempting in any way to indicate that the people from the British Isles did not exceed any one of those groups.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

I am sorry if I misunderstood my hon. friend.

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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

Perhaps the minister should attempt with me the same type of softening up process the hon. member for Saskatoon has reported. I have not had the pleasure of that treatment.

The conclusion I draw from my remarks so far is that there appears to be something in the nature of a policy-or is it just accidental? -whereby some groups appear here in larger numbers than do others. Is it important that we should give our attention to this particular question? I am not certain that the minister has gone into this problem and thought it out

as to the various racial bases for these particular countries. But it may well be that we should give some consideration to it. If Mr. Gurton's forecast is accurate, showing that within another 50-year period people of British stock, who comprised 57 per cent in 1901, by the end of this century will comprise only 32 per cent, it is obvious that there will be a considerable change in the nature of our people.

Whether that change is desirable or not, I am not questioning at the moment. I do know from practical experience in life that the process of assimilating immigrants to the Canadian way of life is not the easiest thing in the world. I spent a sufficient number of years in the field of education to know the difficulties that confront the Canadian people in assimilating even the best of immigrants to the Canadian way of life. And as I have said on other occasions in the house, that needs to be taken into consideration when you are dealing with the question of immigration. Immigrants are brought in here and distributed across the country. The municipalities then must assume the burden of assimilating them to the Canadian way of life, and making them good Canadian citizens. And the greater part of that burden falls on the shoulders of those who are in the field of education. It also falls upon the shoulders of the taxpayers who support the school system.

I am not at all certain that the government in formulating its policy with regard to immigration, if it has one, has taken that into account. I think it is a vitally important matter. We are concerned not only with the numbers of people who enter this country, it is not a question of whether we will have 15 million or 30 million; rather we are concerned with the type of people who are here, and the type of citizens they may become.

Now, to complete my statistical survey. I gather from these figures in the departmental report that a major change in policy occurred in 1949. Up to that date the British nationals coming to this country numbered over 50 per cent of the total number of immigrants who came here annually. In 1949 the situation changed. Let me place on Hansard the figures as they appear in table No. 1 at page 28. People coming from the British Isles, including all those other areas in Great Britain I mentioned earlier, totalled 42,830 in 1949. Others, from overseas-not from the United States-totalled 75,467. Then, in 1950 there were 20,062 from the British Isles and 58,700 others. In 1951 the figure for the British Isles is 17,161 and for the others it is 60,187. In 1952 there were

29,261 from the British Isles and 164,189 others. A percentage basis for those four years indicates that approximately 25 per cent of the total number of immigrants from overseas were British nationals. I suggest this constitutes a major change in the immigration policy of this country.

Whether it has been a policy change or an accidental occurrence, I do not know. I put those facts and figures before the committee for the purpose of assisting in our investigation of the problem. But I think that if we continue conducting immigration into this country without an adequate policy in respect of racial origins that we expect to have in Canada in the future, we might be making a serious mistake.

At the same time I am not here to say that we should exclude one type or another of the races throughout the world. But it appears to me that perhaps by indirect means we are making it more advantageous or easier for some groups to come to this country than others.

The question arises: Why? Why should it be easier for certain people from Europe to come here under assisted passage schemes than it is for others? Is there a policy in this respect, or are we just drifting along? Do we want to see this country end up at the turn of the century, if Mr. Gurton's estimate is correct, with people of British stock numbering only 32 per cent. I do not know at the moment whether that would be desirable or not, but I pose the question for the benefit of the committee.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell:

It would require a man of sterner stuff than I am to make a speech at this time of the last day of the session. But I do want to make one or two comments. In the first place I want to underline what was said by the hon. member for Kamloops, that it is highly undesirable that this debate should have been left to the last day. I suppose one can argue very sincerely that probably at the present time the immigration department and the debate of its estimates are more important than any other debate we have had. What we are doing actually in the immigration department is to decide on what kind of people we are going to be, as the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre said, or, to bring it closer home, we are deciding on the kind of people with whom our descendants are going to intermarry in the coming years.

I repeat, it is unfortunate in the highest degree that it is left like this. I suppose, however, it has sanction, or even sanctification in the eyes of the government because I understand that great parliamentary

26. 1954 6823

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration manager, the late prime minister, Mr. Mackenzie King, laid it down as a guiding rule that in the case of the controversial departments it was wise to leave them until the end, and then the heat would drive the opposition out and they would get away without much debate. I have no doubt that is a consideration. Perhaps it is a case of the evil that men do lives after them. I leave that to the judgment of the committee.

I would repeat that it is unfortunate that it is almost impossible to give this great problem the consideration which it should have at the moment. Of course the reason it is controversial is the fact of unemployment. We know that only three or four years ago the minister used to speak freely and very interestingly about immigration, but he has not had very much to say lately, and certainly he did not get very far in what he said this morning. I do want to raise this question because I believe it is pertinent. I hold in my hand a letter signed by a gentleman by the name of F. S. Walker. This letter appeared in the Globe and Mail on June 11, and reads in part as follows:

I am a recent immigrant to Canada. Is it too much to ask Canadian immigration authorities not to send skilled men from the engineering trades to Canada until Canadian industry can absorb them? Skilled men arriving here at the present time are, like myself, unable to find employment, their skill being lost to England and not wanted in Canada.

There is more to the letter which I shall not read, but I shall read the editorial note at the bottom:

National employment officials report that conditions in certain engineering lines are currently "a bit tight" but that they hope for improvement later this year.

I do hope the minister will let us know just what is the line taken by our officials in Europe. It will be very hard for them of course to come clean and to say that jobs are not easy to get in Canada at the moment, but I do hope that what this letter depicts is not what is commonly being done; in other words, that people are not being encouraged to give up skilled jobs in Europe and to come here.

I shall not detain the committee longer, Mr. Chairman. I wish to repeat, sometimes we in the opposition are told that however little influence we seem to have at the moment, our words are not always wasted, and that they may even be listened to and remembered on future occasions. I do hope that next year this important subject will not be left to the hot 26th of June when the serried ranks of the government are trying to drive us out.

6824 HOUSE OF

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration

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Item agreed to. Citizenship- 57. Citizenship registration branch. $221,654.


PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I was under a misapprehension. I thought the minister had risen to reply.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

I had.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I did not intend to let this item go by without asking a few questions. I understood the minister wanted to make general observations in reply to comments on the first item.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Perhaps anything I might say now might help my hon. friends to pass the rest of the items with dispatch. I would like to have a few moments. I realize that one should not add to the burden of the committee on his own estimates. However, there have been a few things said that require explanation and perhaps defence.

Before I make these remarks may I thank hon. members for their kind references to myself and especially for those which are directed to the officials of the department. I quite realize-and I think every hon. member does-that the immigration branch, devoted as it is to a wholly personal problem, is bound to be the subject of anxiety, irritation and at time disagreements on decisions which have been made. Anybody listening to the debate today would fully appreciate the balance of opinion that there is in the house about immigration.

We have had I think only one speech that could be described as anti-immigration, and we have had one or two who professed to support immigration but who were dubious about its value at this particular moment, or at least dubious about some of the matters involved in it. I think I can safely say that all the rest of the remarks were directed to supporting the policy of immigration, though perhaps disagreeing with particular details which were properly mentioned. In these circumstances I would be the first to agree that hon. members could bring before the committee many more cases than they have mentioned in which it would seem that the decision might not meet the approval of the hon. member himself, and might be made differently under a different minister. That is fully appreciated.

I am grateful for references to those cases, and I shall look at them again, though in many instances I have already seen them myself. Before I mention in detail what has been said, I do want to suggest that the aspersions cast upon me about holding my estimates to the final day are wholly unfounded. This is only the second occasion on which it did occur. Far from not having

(Mr. Macdonnell.]

a full debate on this subject at various times, we had quite a lengthy debate last session. At any rate we had such a debate as met the approval of hon. members opposite.

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PC
LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

One full day plus an hour and a half on another day, but that full day was on April 24, and we did not rise until May 14.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

On that occasion we had only one item before us.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

If my hon. friend wanted to debate longer than the seven or eight hours that he took I am sure that he could have done so.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

You did not call them again until the end of the session.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Then, sir, on June 28, 1951, we had two and a half hours, which seemed to be sufficient for hon. members, because we did not adjourn until two days later. However, this is only quibbling about detail. I am sure that if hon. members wished to debate this subject at greater length they would have done so.

May I make particular reference to many of the problems which have been raised, first by the hon. member for Kamloops and then the others. Each year we have a discussion about the Chinese, the negro and the East Indian cases which come before us, and each year we attempt to ascertain whether it would be desirable to extend the classes of those admissible in those groups. Each year we have cases brought to our attention which are borderline cases; but since I have been in charge of this department the numbers of Chinese citizens coming forward have steadily risen until the year before last they reached the figure of 2,300, I think, settling back to about 1,929 last year and at the moment they are running ahead of that again this year. There would, of course, be more if circumstances permitted them to come out of China, but for the information of hon. members may I say that it would appear that more of them are coming out of China now than were doing so a year ago.

I have not a brief to offer for the validity of the examination of these people by the X-ray method except to say that it has been in use for many years here, and it is not the only ground on which an applicant is refused entry. I have made that clear on other occasions on which I have spoken, and I have pointed out that if the X-ray is the only evidence we have that this person is not likely to be the person we are considering in the application the chances are that he would be admitted. As I believe hon. members know, we are using a variable rule of two years one way or another in the reading of that X-ray plate, and I am satisfied

that it is as reasonably accurate as any other method for the purpose we have in mind.

The Leader of the Opposition raised two cases and I propose to deal with them very briefly. The first case he mentioned happens to be before the courts and perhaps I ought to follow the course of wisdom which is traditional in this house and say very little more about it. I made that clear when I answered the question asked by the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe on that very subject some weeks ago. I told him the case was before the courts and I was not in a position to make any comment. I think perhaps I could follow that course again today, though it is regrettable that the Leader of the Opposition sought to interpret the case in a manner which, with all due respect to him, does not bear very much resemblance to the facts.

The other case he raised concerned Mr. Harold Banks, and may I say again that this is one of those instances in which the assumptions may turn out to be incorrect. We have had some discussion in the house about this particular case, and I remember about May 8 or 10 the hon. member for Hamilton West asked me whether a board of inquiry had been ordered on this case. My answer was, "No". Had that question been asked any time within the last three weeks my answer would have been, "Yes, I ordered a board of inquiry for the purpose of obtaining the record as it is and as I suppose it to be before the officers charged with the responsibility of considering the admission or right to settle in Canada of this particular person." That board will meet in Montreal. It so happens that I am the person to whom an appeal can be made and I feel I should not discuss this case today either. I could perhaps talk about the facts but I do not think it would be fair to indicate any opinion since the facts, when presented to me, should be viewed at that time in a manner as free from previous opinions as it is possible to be.

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

Did I understand the minister to say whether a date had been set for the meeting of that board?

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Just like your immigration findings.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

They are subject to review at the request of the person concerned when he learns about the conviction. One of these

persons whose name was disclosed in the return made to the hon. member for Winnipeg North has since that return was made forwarded me a decision of a French court dissolving the conviction against him on the ground that there was no evidence and restoring to him whatever rights he had before the interim conviction. Therefore my hon. friend will not take it for granted that in all these cases the circumstances were as they might have appeared in the original transcript of the judgment. Following his practice, I will not mention the names of those concerned.

The leader of the C.C.F. party also spoke of the desire that we might use a certain organization abroad; that is, one particular labour organization. We do, of course, employ or use the services of the intergovernmental committee for European migration, as we call it, for the handling of refugees. We feel that we should not have too many of these organizations because there might be overlapping. Since there is one central organization to deal with all refugees, we have followed the practice of supporting that organization since the war. I think we ought to continue to do so. Nevertheless, the organization referred to by his correspondent, namely, the international free trade union group in Brussels, will be considered in order to see what they could add to our knowledge on the subject of immigration and the proceedings under it.

The hon. member for York South raised the question of trade unionism with regard to immigrants and I think I have disposed of that matter. He also spoke of the problem of those British subjects in the West Indies and of the answer we are going to make to the brief which was presented by the negro association of Toronto. I can only make this answer at the moment, Mr. Chairman. Upon receiving the brief we studied it. I examined the statistics with regard to these persons and I found that there has been a steady increase in the numbers of negroes from the West Indies being admitted to Canada. If we leave the present regulations as they are for the time being I think the numbers will probably increase in any event and that we shall have what I would consider to be a reasonably fair representation of these people in the flow of immigrants to Canada. I could place before the house the shifting changes in the numbers but I can assure hon. members that they are on the increase. In addition to the close relative groups who come in in almost every case I should not say as of right but nevertheless almost so, we have a special merit case and we have been using it with respect to these people.

I think the hon. member for Kootenay West also spoke of a particularly offensive person whom he met on the coast. I would not want to defend conduct such as he has described.

I would only hope that this person who came from Germany would learn that however much he might like to ape the traditions of a regime that we hope has gone forever, those things are not wanted or desirable in Canada.

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June 26, 1954