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


Grote Stirling

National Government


I think it is a good thing the hon. member for Kamloops (Mr. O'Neill) has raised this question, if only for the purpose of ventilating it. Hon. members will recall that on several
[Mr. O'Neill.3
occasions since Japan entered the war I have discussed the Japanese situation in the house. I have asked questions, and I have warned the government, particularly in the earlier days of this movement of Japanese, that they were running the greatest risk of trouble if they looked upon the whole area of British Columbia east of the protected area as a district into which the Japanese might percolate at will. It is true that those warnings gradually had some effect. But the people I represent, particularly those in the Okanagan and in the valleys contiguous thereto, are still looking with a considerable amount of apprer hension to what may develop at any time because of the truculence of some of the Japanese who are being allowed to reside for a time in those areas.
Two or three hundred of them have been placed in camps along the side of the Hope-Princeton road. When they first took up their residence in those camps the people of the locality, going out to see what they were doing and whether they were accomplishing anything, were shocked to find one guard lying on the side of the road-within touch of his rifle, true, but the rifle not being in his hands. So far as I am aware that guard was the only one at the camp. At that time work was supposed to be under way for the purpose of completing the road. There was no road machinery, and the Japanese were there with long-handled shovels, taking a shovelful of dirt, walking several yards with it and throwing it over the edge. I do not emphasize that point particularly because there are difficulties in connection with providing road machinery. From the answer to the question I asked the Minister of Labour the other day I presume the government has in hand the acquiring of all available road machinery in these difficult days. But several times over, during the earlier part of this difficulty, I was told by ministers that the interior of British Columbia must bear its share of this trouble. The inhabitants of the interior fully realize that; but what the government has apparently been unable to realize is that through that area, the fruitgrowing section of British Columbia, there has been for years past a collection of Japanese. These were people of Japanese origin, some of whom were born in this country and some who were not. When the trouble broke out I believe a certain number of them were removed for internment. That matter however has been treated secretly, and I cannot assert it with confidence. I believe there were some 750 Japanese in that interior part with which I am connected. The inhabitants living up there did not see any reason why the Japanese should be allowed to leave the

Japanese Nationals
protected area and wander in by day, by night, by automobile, by bus and by train, and take up residence within that area. That they have done so tnere is no doubt whatsoever, but what their numbers are is hard to come by.
When I was home at Easter I made all possible inquiries to endeavour to ascertain how many had so come in. I found it was quite impossible to do so, because of course the Japanese are not desirous of making known how many came in. But there are so very many more Japanese faces seen on the streets of those towns and villages, and seen on the roads and the farms, that it is quite obvious that a very considerable influx took place at that time.
The desire of the government has been to deal as best it can with the 24,000 or 25,000 Japanese which it was their purpose to remove from the protected area. As no other part of Canada in those earlier days showed any great desire to receive these Japanese residents, the people I represent could not see that when they already had placed about 750 of these people they should have others numbering four figures-and if this had not been stopped it might have been five figures-forced upon them. Because to the oriental mind the Okanagan valley and the industry carried on therein is a desirable haven.
The difficulty in that connection is now in the hands of the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent), and to that point I shall allude for a moment. For many years past it has been the custom for a farmer growing truck or vegetable crops to enter into what is known as a crop share agreement with those who are ready to do the labour. Those labourers have to a great extent in past years been Hindus, Chinese, and Japanese. No difficulty was experienced with respect to the crop share agreement between a white farmer and a Japanese who in past years had entered into such an agreement. But when these newcomers of Japanese origin showed their desire to enter into crop share agreements with the white farmers, it became evident that they could do so only if they received permits from the Minister of Justice under order in council 4657, I believe it was. When I had primed myself with certain information with regard to these crop share agreements I asked the Minister of Justice how many permits he had issued. His answer was "none". My information is that crop share agreements have been entered into by Japanese who were newcomers, contrary to the order in council, and in considerable numbers. At the moment the Minister of Justice, through the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, is making an investigation.
In the constituency of the hon. member who raised this question there have been alleged instances-I use that word because I have not definite proof-where intermediaries have acquired land which has subsequently been occupied, though it may not be owned at the present time, by Japanese who have come in from the protected area. If that be true, and it is being looked into, it is a definite infraction of the order in council that is being administered by the Minister of Justice.
These are things at which the people I represent look with a great deal of concern. At the back of their minds there is the thought that if these people are allowed to enter, to occupy, to lease and perhaps eventually to own land, there will be a repetition of what happened in the state of California in connection with foreign labour. The Italians came into their fruit valleys in an insidious manner, and now they own the valleys completely. There will be a repetition of what has occurred in another part of my constituency where the Doukhobors are located. They acquired a piece of land here and a piece there because of their habits they frightened white possessors of land away from the neighbourhood, and the areas are becoming more and more Doukhobor year by year. That is the fear at the back of the minds of the population of my riding. I think it is high time the matter was discussed in this house and that the government definitely recognized this real fear which exists.

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