June 19, 1942 (19th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)



The hon. member would move the adjournment of the house to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, to wit, the Japanese question in British Columbia. I would point out that an hon. member desiring to make such a motion rises in his place, asks leave to move the adjournment of the house for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, and states the nature of the matter. If I consider it in order and of sufficient public importance I ask if the hon. member has the leave of the house. The hon. member has handed me a written statement. It is a matter which I think is of sufficient public importance; therefore I would ask: Has the hon. member the leave of the house to present the motion he is now making?
And leave being granted:
Mr. O'NEILL: Several days ago, Mr. Speaker, I rose in the house to ask a question with respect to the Japanese situation. At that time I was ruled out of order, which ruling I accepted as gracefully as possible; for I believe I was out of order on that occasion, though I had submitted the questions to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell), and the minister was quite prepared to answer them. I did not receive the written answers to those questions until to-day, and I find them very unsatisfactory.
I might direct the attention of hon. members to the fact that the people of British Columbia are extremely disturbed about the way the Japanese question is being handled, and when I say extremely disturbed I mean just that. I should like to quote from an editorial which appeared recently in the Kamloops newspaper, which, by the way, though not holding the same political beliefs as the government, is quite a friendly paper. It carried a long editorial with respect to the Japanese question, which concluded with these words:
Are Canada and Japan at war? We thought so in British Columbia, but Ottawa is a long way away. What kind of explosion in British Columbia is it going to take so that it may be heard all that distance?
Japanese Nationals

That is the feeling of the people there. I receive communications all the time to the effect that the Japanese camps in northern British Columbia are not properly guarded. They say, for instance, that there is only one gun in a tent in which there are several guards. For that gun there are twelve rounds of ammunition, so that even if you got a Jap with each round of that ammunition there would still be plenty of them left to outnumber the guards in the camps. Things like this do not tend to allay the anxiety of the people, especially since the landing of the Japanese on the Aleutian islands.
Recently when the 2nd battalion of the Rocky Mountain Rangers were on parade in Kamloops and were being instructed by their officer, Japanese were sitting there, listening to the instructions being given by the officer to the men in his battalion. I say to the house that that is not a proper condition to exist. The Japanese in those camps in the northern section of British Columbia are becoming more arrogant every day. As a matter of fact one cannot fire those fellows as he would a man in an ordinary camp who refused to do something he was told to do. In an ordinary road construction camp the foreman may fire a man, but he cannot do that in a Japanese camp. The Japanese have now got to the point where they say they will not do something, and the foreman cannot force them to do it. Then they insist upon removal of the foreman, and in one instance, the foreman was removed.
We want a man at the head of the security commission in British Columbia of the type of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell), who, speaking the other day in the house, said, "If I had my way about it, and a man refused to do what he was told, I would intern him." Some 300 of them are now interned at Petawawa. That is the kind of man we need in British Columbia to handle the Japanese situation-someone who is prepared to do what he thinks the situation demands.
I am told, on what I consider to be most reliable authority, that Japanese are now on strike in the North Thompson area. They are on a sit-down strike. That is not a proper condition to have in this country. How long would you and I last if we were in Japan, and carried on like that? How much longer are we going to pussyfoot with those yellow devils in the west? That is what I would like to know.

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