I last spoke on this matter on Saturday, January 25 and I wish at this time to make some further remarks. I would appreciate it very much if the Acting Minister of Citizenship and Immigration would enunciate to the house the policy of the government in respect of the matter of immigration generally, and further if there have been any changes in that immigration policy.
I noticed that in 1956 some 51,319 people came to Canada from the British Isles, and in the period from January 1 to September 30 the figure was 29,330 from the same British Isles. There has been, of course, a substantial drop in the figure. Furthermore I am aware of the fact that during the year 1956 some
4,000 Hungarians came to Canada, and from the period January 1 to September 30, 1957 the number was 29,330 making a total as of September 30, 1957 of 33,330 Hungarians. My information is that on the basis of an estimate only from October or November, 1956 up to the present about 36,000 Hungarians have come to this country.
I would particularly like to know what is the policy of the present government with respect to Hungarian immigration to Canada. I am not personally taking a critical position as to what has happened in the past, because my understanding and information is that the immigration of these people was based purely on humanitarian principles. However, in view of the Immigration Act, and particularly in view of section 5 of that act, certain persons are prohibited from entering this country. One such class of persons would be those who suffer from physical or mental defects; other classes would include diseased persons and persons who are members of subversive organizations. I do think perhaps in regard to the Hungarian immigration situation the lessons we have learned should necessitate officials of the government taking great care in seeing exactly what types of immigrants do come into this country, and that the tests or requirements set out in the act are strictly followed.
I would now like to comment on the matter of Indian affairs. I have noted the good that is being done by the department in so far as housing is concerned, including the building of new homes and the repairing of old ones, the matter of scholarships as an inducement to Indian people to improve their educational standards, and also the improvements which are being made by the construction of new schools.
I would now like to refer the acting minister to one matter which is referred to on page 63 of the annual report of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. This report deals with the fiscal year ending March 31, 1957, and under "land leases" the following statement is made:
New leases completed during the year numbered 552 and of 716 leases which expired, 438 were renewed.
That year, I take it, would be the year 1956, and I would like some particulars with regard to these 716 leases which expired. I would like to know whether they were all taken up either by new leases or renewed leases. In any event, what is the situation? Do some of those same leases still remain expired?
Following up this matter of leases, I would also like to comment on my understanding with respect to the Indian Act. A certain section of that act deals with the provision for provincial governments and local authorities to obtain title to Indian land. I know of points throughout-British Columbia where leases are given on Indian lands for say 30 or 40 years, and many private individuals acquire such properties and spend considerable money in making capital improvements on them. I think of course that the Indian should be sovereign in so far as title to or ownership of his land is concerned.
However, there is a development taking place in the country today in that people are obtaining leases on Indian lands and, as I have stated, spending considerable money on the capital improvement of the properties. The situation today is becoming such that, close to the cities and municipalities, something should be done in order to give private individuals the opportunity of purchasing Indian lands. The time may be premature; enough time may not have elapsed to put the Indian on the same business basis as the white person, but I do think the time will come when something must be done along the lines I have suggested.
I do, however, make this qualification; that if anything is done in this regard the Indian people should be treated fairly, and should be paid a proper and reasonable price for their lands. I think, however, the whole policy with respect to the leasing of such lands should be gone into by this government. It may be that we might have to wait another 40 or 50 years, at which time the Indian people may no longer be wards of the government. In any event, with respect to the very valuable Indian lands close to cities and municipalities I would suggest to the government that consideration be given to the matter of whether or not title to such lands may pass to various individuals.
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration
Another question I would like to ask the minister is with respect to Indian forest reserves. I would like to know the position in regard to this matter as far as the province of British Columbia is concerned, and I would particularly like to know whether anything is being done at the present time to see that Indian forest reserves are kept on a sustained yield forest management basis. That, I know, is the general policy today in British Columbia with respect to timber reserves, but specifically what is being done at this time to help the Indian people in so far as the matter of Indian forest reserves is concerned?