March 25, 1968

LIB

Jean Marchand (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Marchand:

Mr. Chairman, just a few words in reply to those various questions.

The hon. member for York-Humber (Mr. Cowan) described in great detail the cases which were submitted to him. He will surely understand that I am not in a position to discuss those cases as he did this afternoon, because I have just been acquainted with them. In any event, I will surely look into what happened to ascertain whether our policy is really lacking.

As for the hon. member for York South (Mr. Lewis), I believe he is right in theory. Independent immigrants who have asked to come to Canada should have at least the same rights that tourists enjoy in Canada. Indeed, it is the tourists in Canada who have exceptional privileges. I do feel it is practically impossible to grant the right of appeal in the case of all direct applications that can be made.

But, in any case, the point system inaugurated last year is not sacred. It is still under study because we want to find out how it can influence immigration or what discrimination can result therefrom. Of course, suggestions made to us will be studied seriously and we will see to it that it is improved, if need be. In any case, it is a system which, in my opinion, has improved considerably our immigration policy, particularly with regard to sponsored immigrants. Moreover, it is a system which rests in part on discretionary power. It is difficult not to have discretionary power and, when a point system is applied, it can become too rigid. It is a matter of finding out if, in practice, the system works as well as it should.

That is all I want to say for the time being, Mr. Chairman.

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NDP

Edward Richard Schreyer

New Democratic Party

Mr. Schreyer:

Mr. Chairman, I want to take just three or four minutes to express to the minister of immigration my dissatisfaction with section 5 of the Immigration Act and in particular its application. Section 5, as hon. members know, spells out the categories of persons who are simply not admissible to Canada as immigrants by reason of mental incompetence. Section 5 stipulates clearly that:

No person, other than a person referred to In subsection (2) of section 7-

That is the section dealing with the discretionary power of the minister.

-shall be admitted to Canada if he is a member of any of the following classes of persons:

(a) persons who

(i) are idiots, imbeciles or morons,

(ii) are insane or, if immigrants, have been insane at any time-

Last Friday, Mr. Chairman, the hon. member for Fort William sponsored a bill, No. C-30, the effect of which would be to grant permanent immigrant status to persons who until now have been denied it simply because they may have had a medical history of mental illness. Even if it had only lasted for short intervals, apparently this has barred them from being given permanent immigrant status. The bill debated last Friday would have changed the law in this respect. The hon. member made his case sa clearly and logically that I for one do not understand how this anomaly in the law has been allowed to exist.

In order not to digress I want to hark back to section 5 which prohibits the entry into this country of certain categories of persons who have a condition of mental illness or mental incompetence. Section 7 permits the minister to exercise discretionary powers. Although I am not challenging that provision it was my understanding until very recently that the minister felt he was under an extreme injunction not to exercise this discretionary power. Therefore I presumed that few, if any, persons in this category were allowed into this country.

[DOT] (5:10 p.m.)

My involvement with this section of the act comes about through an individual case. I shall not take up the time of the committee to relate all the particulars. Suffice it to say that two families from a South American country had satisfied all the requirements of Canadian immigration law and were deemed eligible to enter Canada as immigrants. However, they

March 25, 1968 COMMONS

were prohibited from so doing because one person, one dependent, in this two-family group was considered mentally incompetent. In all other respects the applying families met the requirements of our immigration law. Ironclad guarantees were given with respect to the employment of these people in this country and with respect to financial arrangements for housing and so on. There was no good reason to deny these families entry as new Canadians except that possibly they could not leave one member of the family behind. The mother was very old and one brother was mentally incompetent.

The minister has the power to use discretion in these matters. I am not suggesting he should not have that discretion. I was surprised to learn from the hon. member for Spadina, who spoke last Friday, that 176 mentally incompetent persons in 1966 and 179 mentally incompetent persons in 1967 were allowed into this country despite the provisions of section 5 of the act. The minister was able to use his discretionary power and allow them in. I do not challenge that but I wish to ask the minister one question. He must use some criterion. He deals with every case on its merits and it would be hopeless for him to try to explain how he justifies every decision to allow persons into this country. I know he must take into account the circumstances applying to other members of the immigrant's family. But surely it is possible for him to indicate in a general way what circumstances must obtain before he is prepared to issue a permit for the entry into Canada of a dependent person who is mentally incompetent. If the minister will not answer now, perhaps he will take my question as notice. I intend to debate it with him at some opportune time in the future.

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LIB

Ralph Bronson Cowan

Liberal

Mr. Cowan:

Mr. Chairman, I was waiting to hear what the minister might say in answer to the hon. member for Springfield. I do not wish to speak at length on the matter. I was happy to receive the assurance from the minister that the points system is not an established sacred cow. I must tell him that from the advice I have from the Toronto immigration office it is an established sacred cow there at the moment. I am glad to know that the minister will disestablish that situation.

There is one point I want to emphasize to the minister and it is this. What is the competence of the examining officers in the first place? I have already extended public thanks, and I have done so privately as well, to the minister for having granted a special permit

DEBATES 8017

Supply-Manpower and Immigration to a gentleman and family from Jamaica. I sat through the hearing in Toronto before the special inquiry officer on the Jamaican's application. We were accompanied by the minister of his church, Pape Avenue Baptist Church, and heard the questioning of the Jamaican citizen who is now in Toronto. The questions were fired at him by the special inquiry officer. I would have presumed that he was an able, well educated man who knew what he was doing. He asked the Jamaican what was the date of the armistice in the first world war and the Jamaican said November 11, 1918.

The inquiry officer fired another question. He said, "What was the date of the armistice in the second world war?" That was the first moment I intervened. I was called a counsel, although I am not a lawyer. The only way I could get into the hearing was as the Jamaican's counsel. So I said to the special inquiry officer, "What are you talking about? No matter what answer this Jamaican gives you he will be wrong because there was no armistice in the second world war. It was unconditional surrender." Judging from what some members of parliament have told me, a peace treaty has not been signed yet between Germany and the allies, so the investigating officer's question was wrong. Peace not having been signed, the war is not over technically. So I said, "There was no armistice in the second world war. No matter how this fellow answers he is going to be wrong and either way you are going to dock marks off him."

To show the mental capacity of that special inquiry officer I would point out that there was a transcript made of the questions and answers, and because my interventon showed that the special inquiry officer was not master of the situation-he did not like to be shown up in this way-there were some changes made. If you will look at the departmental transcript of the hearing you will find that he has changed his question. In his question he now says, "What was the date of the end of the second world war." I am shown as objecting. "I object to the question because there was no armistice in the second world war." If the examining officer has no more intelligence than that shown by his secondary question, it does not say much for him. He altered his question without making any contact with me. I intervened because of the falseness of his first question. The altered transcript shows that the special inquiry officer is not very bright.

March 25. 1968

8018 COMMONS

Supply-Manpower and Immigration

I think that in the first instance we should have higher quality judges in the department.

I agree with the hon. member for York South. More than one man should be required to make this life or death decision affecting the welfare of families. I do not know whether I would agree that three people of the quality of the one I have just described are better than one good, intelligent man, but certainly I believe the quality of the examiners should be raised.

Since the minister has been kind enough to say that the point system is not sacred I should like to ask him what is the meaning of the paragraph on page 6 of the regulations dated September 12, 1967, which reads:

The regulations also provide that either a nominated relative or an independent applicant who comes to Canada as a visitor and then applies to remain permanently will have to meet slightly higher selection standards than if he had applied overseas.

A 24-year old chap to whom I am referring, a Greek, got a total of 45 marks-I have the examination marks right here-on his examination. We were told by the special inquiry officer that he had to have 50 marks because he applied in Canada. Why does the man who applies in Canada have to have five more marks or points than the man who applies overseas? What is the difference? He is not a different man overseas than he is in Canada. In fact, he has had enough get up and go to pay his way out here and also to buy his return ticket. He must have the return half on his visa. And because he has shown some spunk and got here on his own he is told, "You must have five more points than if you had not come here and had applied through any average, regular immigration office in Europe, Asia or South America." I have had South American applicants. Why must people get five more points in Canada than if they applied elsewhere?

Mr. Minister, I have already said I have no complaints with the handling of these cases by the officers of your department. I have congratulated you for your fine spirit and deep concern about this matter. You have said that the points system is not sacred, that you are not going to sanctify the points system in this mundane world. I also wish you would drop the use of the word "deportation" on every piece of printing material that comes out of the immigration department for would-be immigrants.

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LIB

Jean Marchand (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Marchand:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to give a brief answer to the question put by the hon. member for Lafontaine (Mr. Lachance) with regard to Sicilian and Italian immigrants.

We have given priority to all applications made in Sicily; we increased the number of our agents in Rome so that priority is given to all Sicilian immigrants and their applications are considered as fast as possible. Moreover, we have given priority to applications from sponsors of Sicilian immigrants coming from Canada, and that method proved effective. Unfortunately, I cannot give figures to the hon. member this afternoon.

As for the hon. member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Fawcett)-

[DOT] (5:20 p.m.)

I am no more satisfied than is the hon. member with section 5. We know that some illnesses which were incurable years ago can today be cured. This is where we can use our discretion. We shall amend this section as soon as we are able to do so. I shall not advance any argument on the point because I agree the provision should be changed in 1968.

The question has been raised: why should it be more difficult for would-be immigrants to obtain immigrant status when they apply here in Canada rather than in the countries from which they come? The answer is that if this policy were not followed people would not bother to go to our offices in Europe at all. They would come directly to Canada and make application here on the ground that it would be easier and processing would be quicker. If we are to maintain offices abroad, then those who respect our regulations should have some kind of preference. That is why there is a slight difference. We do not refuse applications made in Canada but we indicate it is preferable for application to be made in the immigrant's own country.

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LIB

Ralph Bronson Cowan

Liberal

Mr. Cowan:

To comment on the minister's last observation, I have the minister's remarks here, as he has made them for the past several years, and I notice he points out that in this modern day and age people can be transported much more quickly and easily from one country to another. People come here as visitors and after seeing the country they decide to stay. If a man comes as a visitor he does not apply to the immigration office overseas. Very likely he has only been

March 25, 1968

tempted to remain as an immigrant because of the opportunity he has had to see the country at first hand.

The 24-year-old Greek I mentioned was given 45 points on his examination in Toronto. He was told he needed 50 points because he had applied in Toronto. The question which arises is: Can we send him back to Greece? With the 45 points he was given in Toronto he would be entitled to entry to Canada provided he made his application in Greece. He obtained 45 points in Toronto which he was told-and I was there when this took place-would be sufficient if he applied in Greece. It looks a little ridiculous if, having failed by only five points in Toronto, he buys a return ticket to Greece and passes on the marks he has established in Toronto. Of course, it is a good thing for the air lines. I wish that Air Canada flew to Greece so they could get all the revenue. But I believe the young lad would only pay Air Canada as far as New York and would fly Sabena from there to Athens. The hon. gentleman has been very kind to me in connection with my applications but I must say I do not see eye to eye with him 100 per cent in connection with that last statement.

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LIB

Jean Marchand (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Marchand:

We could probably have a more lengthy discussion on this subject when we amend the Immigration Act, but I am sure the present policy is sound.

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Item agreed to.


DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT


2c. Acquisition of railway cars and other equipment, $76,500.


PC

Robert Jardine McCleave

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McCleave:

I have just one question which I raised earlier in the absence of the minister. Perhaps the hon. gentleman can reply to it now; I have given him notice. It concerns a request by the Shipping Federation of Canada, Halifax branch, and by the longshoremen of the Halifax area for further consideration of a projected increase in pilotage and boat costs for Halifax harbour. I shall not put forward the argument which has been made to me. I think it is really a matter of their having time in which to present their case to the minister and the department. This would be the preferable course. It is a matter of some urgency because the expected increases which have been mentioned were to come through as of April 1. Perhaps the minister could indicate whether their pleas and mine have had some effect.

Supply-Transport

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LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

I am pleased to advise the hon. member that as a result of the representations which have been received I have given instructions that the date be extended by 15 days to give all interested parties a chance to make representations.

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PC

Robert Jardine McCleave

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McCleave:

I am very grateful to the minister.

The Assisiani Deputy Chairman: The hon. member for Trois-Rivieres.

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IND

Joseph-Alfred Mongrain

Independent

Mr. Mongrain:

I will relinquish my turn to the hon. lady from Vancouver-Kingsway.

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NDP

Winona Grace MacInnis

New Democratic Party

Mrs. Maclnnis (Vancouver-Kingsway):

Has

the minister anything to tell us about the state of negotiations between Ottawa and the province of British Columbia with regard to the Roberts bank development?

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LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

We are carrying on negotiations. I have received another letter from the premier which crossed one I had sent to him. We are both interested in getting on with the job. In the meantime we are going ahead with the technical plans for the port. I hope we can reach a satisfactory conclusion because it is important that the port be opened in time to handle the first shipment called for in the contract with the Japanese. We have every intention of seeing that this is done.

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NDP

Winona Grace MacInnis

New Democratic Party

Mrs. Maclnnis (Vancouver-Kingsway):

am well aware that the jurisdiction with regard to the deep-sea port is federal but is there any attempt being made to work out a satisfactory degree of co-operation which will allow some degree of provincial participation or control?

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LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

In my first letter I said we would be pleased to co-operate with the provincial government with respect to industrial estates, the land assembly program for industry which is associated with the port facilities. This could be worked out on the basis of a 50-50 partnership as suggested by the province, or under any other agreed formula.

So far as the port facilities are concerned, I indicated in my first letter that the federal government was willing to accept full responsibility. I also indicated subsequently that we were making a study of the question of ownership and control of port facilities in Canada and that this study might suggest some changes in connection with control, more particularly in connection with local participation in management. However, in view of the fact that this subject has not been studied for

March 25. 1968

Supply-Transport

many years, not during the last 25 years to the best of my knowledge, I feel we should await the results of the study-I hope it will only take a couple of months-before agreeing to any new form of port control. I think this is particularly important because there are some basic questions involved which have to be answered. I do not believe we have sufficient information yet on which to base a policy as suggested.

[DOT] (5:30 p.m.)

On the other hand, it could well be that following the conclusion of the study there would be some recommendation for increased local participation. We have left the door open for this to happen at some future date and have suggested that in the interim it would be in the interests of all parties involved that the federal government go ahead with the technical plans so that the contracts could be called and there would be no delay on the physical works.

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NDP

Winona Grace MacInnis

New Democratic Party

Mrs. Maclnnis (Vancouver-Kingsway):

What has been the response of the provincial government to this proposal?

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LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

The response has been one of continuing negotiation. I have not yet received a reply to my last letter but I think the will exists to try to work the thing out co-operatively. I certainly hope that is the case.

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IND

Joseph-Alfred Mongrain

Independent

Mr. Mongrain:

Mr. Chairman, I want to assure the house right away that I shall be very brief. I only want to deal briefly with two points.

First of all, I must tell the minister that he made a very good impression during his visit to Trois-Rivieres yesterday. I visited my riding this morning in order to listen to comments and read newspaper reports, and that does not surprise me, because such a welcome is customary in our area.

There is only one thing I wish to point out to the minister, and it is that the member for Trois-Rivieres is an independent. Therefore, when the Prime Minister or the leader of any party pays a visit to his municipality, he is happy to welcome him on behalf of the entire population of Trois-Rivieres. If I am saying this, it is because when certain candidates come to Trois-Rivieres, they invite the member, through their organizers, who then makes a point of being present, but he would not want to give the impression that he favours a candidate more than another.

That was my preliminary remark.

My other remark is perhaps more substantial. I remember that the minister said either in the house or elsewhere, that he would consider the advisability of paying some compensation those who suffered damage caused by flooding.

A little later on, I understood the minister to say that he had some misgivings, because it was an act of God for which the government was not responsible.

In the name of all my constituents-and I think this also answers the expectations of some of my colleagues who received the same requests-I should like to ask the minister today to undertake a serious inquiry into the situation. Along with others, I believe there has been negligence on the part of some responsible officials of his department. I do not blame the minister, nor his senior officials, but those responsible who should have foreseen the situation and taken appropriate measures before it was too late.

In my opinion, the least the hon. minister can promise the house and those who have been greatly injured by what has happened, is to set up a neutral and responsible body to study the situation in detail and with all due objectivity so that, if it is proved that responsible officials in his department have been guilty of negligence, at least partial compensation can be given in the most serious cases.

There are some pathetic cases which I find extremely unfair. In fact, for many years, we proved to the people that we were able to make the necessary arrangements in order to avoid a similar disaster, and those people invested tremendous amounts in properties which, in several cases, have a certain value. Today, we condemn them to assume those damages without any compensation, especially if we take into consideration-as I have written myself-the fact that most of those victims are people of limited means, even poor in many cases and doomed to a precarious situation because of that act of God.

I repeat my question so that there may be no misunderstanding on the part of the minister. I do not ask him this afternoon to promise officially in the house that he will give a 100 per cent compensation to those who suffered damages, but at least I should like to know whether he is prepared to make the necessary arrangements so that one individual or a group of responsible, competent and unbiased individuals could study the situation in detail with a view to granting a partial compensation in the most extreme cases, if

March 25, 1968

some deficiency, weakness or neglect can be proven.

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March 25, 1968