February 15, 1955

LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

My question relates to what the hon. gentleman has just said.

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?

An hon. Member:

Sit down.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

My question is this: Would the hon. gentleman quote the decision of the Canadian Bar Association to which he has just referred and not the rejected report of a subcommittee.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

If I used the words "decision of the Canadian Bar Association" I am glad to correct that. I made it clear earlier when I first introduced this subject that I was quoting the report of the subcommittee of the committee on civil liberties of the Canadian Bar Association. The report was made to the committee and was presented by that committee to the council of the bar association.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Just for the record, go on and tell what happened to it.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

It was not rejected. I thought the minister would try to take refuge in that. The report was not rejected. The report became a very heated political issue, quite true, and-

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Not with the bar association.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

As I understand the situation as it was reported to me, the bar association did not want to get involved in any political issue and the bar association council recommended that the matter be referred back to the subcommittee for their further study and consideration. I have no hesitation in placing these facts on the record because I was not referring to this as the full report of the Canadian Bar Association. This was a report by a subcommittee of one of their committees made after two years of study and investigation. That subcommittee consisted of a barrister in private practice in Vancouver, the son of a Conservative it is true but not himself active in politics; a Liberal lawyer here in Ottawa, who was a candidate for the Liberal party in the last federal election and the one before that, and an official of the Liberal organization. The other member was the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Dickey), who is the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Defence Production and who is I imagine perhaps the strongest Liberal of all three, strong that is in his adherence to the party. I do not mean in his contributions.

It must be emphasized incidentally that not one of these findings or recommendations has been refuted or denied. I repeat that under ordinary circumstances when a situation such as this is exposed the minister who is responsible, particularly when he refuses to deal with or improve the situation after it has been drawn to his attention, would in accordance with ordinary principles of responsibility be called upon to resign.

Unfortunately for him the present minister has inherited this mess, but I suggest that it is absolutely incumbent upon him to clear up the situation. He has shown no signs of doing so. I think there are some quotations or statements in this regard which might be rather interesting. Saturday Night of September 25, 1954, makes a comment with which I agree with respect to the report to which I have referred. It states:

The only conclusion is that when the Hon. Walter Harris made his recent move from the immigration ministry to finance, he left a mess behind him. His failure to straighten out his former department is not a glowing promise of success in his present, more difficult job.

Then perhaps we might be permitted to hope that if the Minister of Finance, as he now is, has done nothing, at least his successor would show an inclination, indeed a determination to clean up the mess. But the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Pickersgill) has shown no inclination to accept his responsibility to improve the situation. He did say some months ago that the reports were being studied, but the Winnipeg Tribune of November 26, 1954, states this:

But when Mr. Pickersgill was in Manitoba early this month taking part in the Selkirk by-election he stated that he was taking no action on the charges because he had not officially received a report from the bar association committee.

The minister's attitude is apparently reflected in the attitude of the deputy minister who said on September 2, 1954, that no changes were contemplated in the procedure followed by the overseas officers of the federal department, which came under considerable criticism at the annual meeting of the Canadian Bar Association.

The necessity for the minister to take some action to improve the situation in his department is, I believe, obvious from the very serious nature of the criticism made by the bar association subcommittee, which made a summary of some of the cases. I will briefly outline the nature of some of these cases.

The cases were summarized by Mr. McDonald, chairman of the subcommittee, in an interview he gave in Winnipeg and as reported by the Canadian Press on September 2. Some of the points he made are as follows:

That in countless incidents Canadians trying to return from abroad were delayed by the immigration department anywhere up to five years. They appear at an overseas immigration office with their birth certificates. An inspector simply tells them he doesn't believe they are the person named on the certificate. Then he tells them goodbye. They have no recourse to the courts.

The inspectors themselves are not clear on what authority they have for their actions. The west coast inspectors are determining some cases on

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the basis of a statement made in the Commons by the minister. They have nothing else to go on.

At overseas ports Canadians are refused representation by counsel. The Hong Kong office bears the sign "no agents allowed". The department refers to lawyers as "agents".

When a lawyer writes the department on behalf of a client, the department habitually writes directly to the client, sidestepping his counsel.

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LIB

John Horace Dickey (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Defence Production)

Liberal

Mr. Dickey:

Would the hon. member be good enough to identify the document from which he is now quoting?

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I cannot understand why hon. gentlemen opposite are so suddenly hard of hearing when criticism is directed against them. I said this was a Canadian Press report from Winnipeg dated September 2 and it summarized a press interview given by Mr. McDonald, chairman of the subcommittee. The report continues:

That, on occasion, the department has advised clients to deal directly with the department and dismiss their counsel.

These are some of the points made by Mr. McDonald in substantiation of the subcommittee's criticisms.

Now, let us look at what this department does when it gets an adverse ruling in the courts. I have referred to the case of Leong Ba Chai in which there was a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. After being in Canada for some time a Chinese gentleman applied for the admission of his son from China, and when the department refused, his counsel insisted that the matter be referred to the courts. The question of the admissibility of the son was referred to the courts and they upheld the submission. The court held that the son was admissible within the definition of the regulations.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Has the hon. member the court's decision there?

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

No, I have not got the court's decision, but I have discussed it with counsel and I have a summary of it here. If the hon. member does not agree with my interpretation he can make his own remarks in his own time.

Here is a report in the Vancouver Sun- a paper not hostile to the government-dated December 10, 1954:

A Canadian citizen, whose right to bring his 20-year old son from China to Vancouver was upheld in the Supreme Court of Canada nine [DOT] months ago, is still awaiting an entry visa for the boy.

The supreme court decision came December 28, 1953, as a climax to a three-year battle with the Canadian immigration department fought by Leong Hung Hing, an elderly chef in a Vancouver chop suey house.

Today the visa application is "still under investigation", despite the fact that most immigrants get cleared for entry in a matter of a few weeks.

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Immigration officials here refused to comment on the matter and said they were "sworn to secrecy."

Therefore, the government first of all is delaying in allowing this right to this boy, who has had his rights determined in the highest court in the land. Then what do they do? Not satisfied in their attempt first to deny the rights of the boy, they try to keep the case out of court. Finally, this persistent counsel on behalf of the applicant goes to court and the department gets an adverse decision. The decision of the court was in effect: "You cannot deny the rights of Canadians who assert that their sons are their legal sons and are entitled to entry into Canada."

The government then passes an order in council which would have the effect of wiping out the court's decision, so making it impossible for such a decision to be reached in any future cases. They do not have the courage to lay the matter before parliament or the country. They pass an order in council which would have the effect of negating the decision of the court.

I would now like to refer to a report in the Vancouver Province for October 15, 1954, which reads as follows:

The change in immigration department regulations, announced Wednesday in the current issue of Canada Gazette, states Asiatic children may take up residence in Canada only if they are legitimate according to Canadian law.

But lawyer Dave Moffett, who has handled many Asiatic cases, declared today the original order in council defined these admissible children as "children who are issue of lawful wedlock, according to Canadian law."

Referring to the effect of the new order in council he said:

"This means any Canadian citizen who legally adopts a child in China must say goodbye to it when he returns here."

It is estimated that the effect of the order in council is to deny rights of entry to at least 150 children of Canadian citizens who would have been admissible under the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada had the government not resorted to the order in council method of trying to frustrate the effect of the decision of the court.

I can multiply these examples of arbitrary action on the part of the government, Mr. Speaker, but enough has been said in the press and will be said by others in the course of the debate to make that course unnecessary.

There is certainly adequate evidence to confirm and support the statement that the government, which has embarked on the principle of arbitrary policies with respect to the administration of immigration, is stubbornly and arrogantly determined to adhere

to that policy notwithstanding the findings of the court and the recommendations made by the bar subcommittee and many interested and responsible organizations.

No subject has aroused more universal comment and more widespread demands for a thorough reform of the over-all policy. But the most disturbing factor of all is the indication so far that the government and the minister are nevertheless determined to let this storm die down and ride the matter out in accordance with their repeated and continued habit of showing a disregard of the principle of ministerial responsibility, a disregard for the principle of elementary justice, and a disregard for the principle of the rights of Canadians.

In the face of these facts, we feel this matter must be aired now in the House of Commons. I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the house as a whole that this parliament is entitled to receive from the present minister the most complete assurances that this situation will be rectified and that the necessary amendments with respect to departmental procedure and the Immigration Act itself will be brought in so that such instances shall no longer occur.

Otherwise I say again to you, sir, and I say it in all seriousness, that stubborn refusal on the part of the government to pay any attention to well-founded criticism in this regard, a stubborn refusal to budge, would be a complete justification for the normal course of demanding the resignation of the minister. Unless we obtain such adequate assurances of effective action, I am satisfied this house and the country in general will support the details of the motion I now move, seconded by the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Churchill):

That the motion be amended by deleting therefrom all the words after the word "That" and substituting therefor the following:

in the opinion of this house, the immigration policy of the government is not clear, consistent or co-ordinated; is not in conformity with the needs or the responsibilities of Canada; and in its administration denies simple justice to Canadians and non-Canadians alike.

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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. J. W. Noseworthy (York South):

Mr. Speaker, we welcome this debate on the subject of immigration and we shall support the amendment. In doing so I want to make it quite clear that I am not in any way attempting to criticize the hon. gentlemen who try to administer the government's immigration policy. As a matter of fact, in my opinion the department of immigration has become, over the years, nothing but a jungle of overgrowth and undergrowth composed of orders in council, rules and regulations and red tape to such an extent that it has become impossible for any hon. gentleman effectively to administer

that department. What is needed is someone to go into that department with a good sharp axe and do a good clean-up job on the orders in council, regulations and red tape that have accumulated there over the years.

The debate serves to show the anomaly which exists in our immigration policy. On the one hand, everybody who is interested in immigration and who has given any study to the subject is agreed that Canada needs immigrants. Every after-dinner speaker tells us that we need anywhere from 25 million to 250 million more people in Canada. I suppose the number depends upon what the afterdinner speaker has taken immediately before he makes the statement.

With our wide and expansive country, our natural resources and our vast transportation systems which are serving to burden down this relatively small population we have in Canada, we are all satisfied that there is in this country opportunity for increased immigration and that a larger influx of immigrants would be in the best national interests of the country. All labour congresses and groups are agreed on that point. I think most social service organizations across the country are agreed on it. But just as soon as we have begun to increase the influx of immigrants, we find unemployment developing here and there and we find housing overcrowded. Then we find a great many people beginning to blame all our troubles on the immigrants. I suppose there is not a member in this house from an industrial centre who has not at various times heard constituents complain of the fact that immigrants are crowding them out of their jobs, crowding native Canadians or former immigrants out of their jobs, and crowding Canadians out of their housing accommodation. That situation in itself is not in the best interests of Canada. A country such as Canada, needing immigrants as we need them, cannot very well stand the anomalous position in which we find ourselves, where just as soon as we begin to step up the influx of immigrants we have wholesale criticism with regard to these immigrants taking the places and the opportunities of Canadians.

I am going to pass on to the minister some criticism. I do so not by way of criticism of himself as an administrator of a department but just as criticism I have heard from new immigrants and others interested in immigration. I shall pass it on to the minister and the government, not that I have any hope or expectation that what I have to say will have the slightest effect upon government policy.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

You can never be sure.

Immigration

Mr. Nose worthy: I think those on this side of the house have long ago resigned themselves to the realization that nothing much that we say on this side of the house can penetrate the iron curtain which divides this side from the other side of the house.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I thought the C.C.F. said they were responsible for all our policies.

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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Noseworihy:

I shall pass it on, however, in the hope that it will at least cause someone in that department to review some of that jungle of regulations, orders in council and red tape that has tied that department up into knots.

One of the most frequently repeated criticisms I have heard from the immigrants themselves is with regard to the extent to which Canada is misrepresented to them in their homeland by those who are interested in bringing them to Canada. There is some indication that in the past some of that misrepresentation has come from employees or representatives of the government's own department. There is much more indication that the misrepresentation is done by transportation companies, by companies that are interested in drumming up passage trade between the old world and the new, and by employers seeking in the markets of the old world cheap employment for Canadian industry. I do not know what steps the government is taking but I am sure it would be in the interests of the department if the minister would tell us just what steps are being taken to ensure that immigrants coming to this country are given a fairly realistic and good picture of what conditions are.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

May I interrupt my hon. friend just to say that on every occasion on which this question has been brought up in the house on the estimates of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, I investigated every case that was mentioned; I gave the assurance that they would be followed through, and directions have been given to all the officers abroad to bear in mind what has been said along the line of what my hon. friend is now saying.

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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Noseworthy:

All I can say to the minister in reply is that there is still need for a continuation of that work or a continuation of every effort that the government can possibly put forth to see that Canada is not misrepresented and that the opportunities in this country are not misrepresented to the immigrants who come to our shores.

There is another point on which I want to make a few suggestions. I refer to the manner in which immigrants are checked for security reasons. Apparently the checking of immigrants for security reasons is done

Immigration

by the R.C.M.P. rather than by officials of the department of immigration. What is true is that immigrants are tried and condemned without even knowing that their trial is taking place. Somehow the immigration authorities are informed that the immigrant is undesirable. The immigrant is given no opportunity whatever to learn what the charges against him are, who has made the charges or to defend himself against them. In fact it is the admitted policy of the government to withhold such information from everyone, including members of parliament.

I defy any member of parliament, unless he can secure a special favour from the minister or some official, to find out, in the case of an immigrant who has been barred for security reasons, what the evidence is against him or by whom the charges were made. I have a case at the present time with which the minister is familiar. It concerns a man who came to this country long before the second world war from one of the countries now behind the iron curtain. He became a Canadian citizen before the second world war and enlisted with the Canadian forces at the outbreak of the war. Because of his knowledge of European languages the Canadian military authorities recommended that he be transferred to the British overseas service, and he was used by the British intelligence service in Egypt and in a number of other campaigns elsewhere during the second world war.

Recently this man has attempted to bring his new wife to Canada, a woman whom I am told he has known since childhood and whom he married recently. She cannot be admitted to Canada. The first reason given to him was that the government had no facilities in that man's country of origin for processing the application for admission. When I tracked the matter down and insisted that there must be some way of processing applications for admission from that country because I personally knew of numbers of people who had come from that country and whose applications had been processed in that country, the information was vouchsafed that this woman could not come here because there were charges against her.

Neither the woman nor her husband nor her representative in parliament has any knowledge of what these charges are, and in cases such as this one it is not the policy of the government to divulge the nature of any such charges. I submit that some consideration should be given to the way in which these cases are handled. It does seem to me to be rather undemocratic that some police officer

should lodge a complaint against a would-be immigrant concerning which the would-be immigrant has no knowledge whatsoever, can secure no knowledge whatever as to the charge and is given no opportunity of defending himself or herself.

Another complaint that I have heard from immigrants is that there is a tendency on the part of immigration officials to treat these people as so many numbers, just numbers of people. They are checked, weighed and examined and if they measure up to certain standards they get the blue ribbon stamp of government approval, are put aboard boats and permitted to land in Canada.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Everything but rail grading.

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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Noseworthy:

There is a tendency to treat them as so many pieces of imported machinery rather than as human beings with human needs and human feelings. A third complaint is that the manner in which assistance is given to immigrants is such that only the head of the family may receive assistance. If there has been a change in that policy recently, I think it is in the interests of the government that the information should be made available. However, my information is that only heads of families may receive assisted passages to Canada. It is then necessary for them to leave their families in their homeland. Consequently they have to maintain two homes while they are trying to establish themselves in a new country. That becomes a hardship especially in view of the fact that once the immigrant has landed in Canada the federal government just about washes its hands of him completely. The only concern the federal government has with them after they land is if they should run foul of the law and become cases for deportation. I suppose that the minister and the government are not entirely to blame. We make no provision for taking care of these people if they meet with misfortune, sickness or death in the early stages of their life in Canada. Family allowances become payable after they have been here one year but there is nothing for the first year. Old age security and old age assistance payments become available after 20 years' residence. The sum total of the results which flow from this policy is that over the years we have been receiving hundreds of thousands of immigrants, keeping them here for a few years, teaching them new skills and giving them an opportunity to become accustomed to the new world way of life, and then we find them going to the United States. For many years emigration from Canada has pretty well equalled immigration into Canada. Over the years there have been hundreds of thousands of immigrants who

have come to this country, received assistance for a few years until they could qualify to enter the United States, and all of this takes place at great cost to Canada and a certain loss of much needed population.

Another criticism, of course, on the part of Canadians just as soon as we begin to step up immigration, is that these immigrants take the jobs of Canadian citizens and crowd Canadian citizens out of their housing accommodation. There are those who maintain that every new immigrant who comes into this country creates a demand for consumer goods, and some of them bring capital which they invest in Canada, thus helping to increase our national production. We must keep in mind that more than human need is necessary to build a strong Canadian society. It is not enough to bring in a million people, all of whom must eat, all of whom must secure clothes to wear, all of whom will need some kind of shelter, unless at the same time we provide jobs whereby these immigrants can earn the money with which to buy those necessities. There is not much gained by having hungry people in this country. Provision must be made for these hungry people to secure the means with which to buy food, clothing and housing accommodation.

I suggest to the minister and to the government that, first of all, there is needed in the department of immigration some over-all plan. Apparently the department plans from year to year. They try to estimate this year how many immigrants Canada can absorb next year. I suppose that under this government's policy that is about all any minister can do so far as planning is concerned. Surely, if Canada needs, as we all agree she does, a large number of immigrants, then it should be possible to plan our economy so that there will be employment for those immigrants without replacing some of our own employed who would become unemployed when the immigrant gets the job. It is that problem to which we must face up, and one for which some over-all planning is required.

There should be some over-all planning to provide housing accommodation. There is still a shortage of homes in Canada, particularly for those in the lower income groups. I have been in houses in my riding in which as many as 30 immigrants were housed, with whole families of immigrants living in one room. The government accepts no responsibility for those conditions, so far as they relate to immigrants the government has brought to this country. I submit, Mr. Speaker, it is the government's responsibility to make low cost housing available to these immigrants as well as other Canadians, so that they can find shelter that is not a slum.

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What we are doing today under our present housing legislation is bringing immigrants into the industrial centres of this country to create slum conditions. I suggest to the government that steps be taken to ensure that our standards of wages, our standards of living, are not undermined by an influx of immigrants into this country. It should be possible to bring to this country the immigrants we need to build our economy, without at the same time lowering the standards which we have reached after years of struggle.

My third suggestion is that our selection of immigrants be on a non-discriminatory basis in so far as race, class, colour and creed are concerned. I have had occasion to raise in this house before, as the minister well knows, the case of immigrants from the British West Indies. I cite that as only one example of the discrimination that is practised by the department today. If we are to build a democratic society in Canada, then we can ill afford to shut out from our country immigrants purely on the basis of their colour, creed or race.

The fourth suggestion I make is one that has been made by trades and labour congresses, and one in which trade unions particularly and other organizations are interested. It concerns the setting up of a permanent advisory council for the assistance of the minister and his officials, a council that will be made up not only of government officials representing federal and provincial governments but of representatives of labour, management, farmers and social service organizations who are interested in immigrants.

This permanent council will give labour an opportunity to learn what the farmers' views are on immigration and vice versa. It will give the government an opportunity of learning what ideas the various groups, which constitute a cross-section of our population, have on the subject of immigration. I should like to see included on that advisory council some representative of the departments of education across this country, because I think much more should be done for the education of the immigrants whom we bring to this country than is being done at the present time.

Right here I want to pay tribute to the department on this point. I have followed with a great deal of interest the booklets they have prepared for the education of immigrants, and the assistance which the federal government renders to boards of education in centres such as Toronto and I presume other metropolitan areas for the education of immigrants, particularly in night

Immigration

schools. That is good work. I want to see it extended, and more education provided for our immigrants.

The advisory council of which I spoke should also form the nucleus of a body that could direct some social research in the field of immigration. Of necessity the government's policy is a hit and miss one. Very little social research has been done in the matter of immigration. The government more or less guesses each year at the number of immigrants we can absorb. There has been no scientific investigation or research into the matter that I am aware of. It is certain that research of that kind could be of assistance to the government so the lives of the immigrants who come to Canada could become happy and the immigrants themselves could become happy and useful citizens of this country and be welcomed instead or criticized by many Canadians, as is done at the present time.

There is room in Canada for a great many more immigrants. I have no idea how many could be absorbed, and I doubt whether the government or anyone else can have any idea in that regard until more research work is done on this subject. Of course, the number we can absorb is by no means static. It will change from year to year as our economy develops and as we begin to use more of our natural resources. Canada needs these immigrants. There are many millions of people in European countries, particularly, that need Canada. All I am asking is that the government give more attention to over-all planning in the fields of employment, housing and education as they affect immigrants who come to this country.

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February 15, 1955