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


Alan Webster Neill



I am not going to bandy words with the Prime Minister. I am not in a position to do so. Perhaps I had better confine myself to saying that that is a very generally held opinion in British Columbia. This man was always ready, in letters to the press, and speeches, and one thing and another, to boost the supposed necessity of certain rights for the Japanese: "Why not give them votes," and so on; "they are British subjects". I can only repeat that unfortunately there is that coincidence between his being brought here quite recently and the knowledge that he does hold these views of the situation. As to the other man, the Prime Minister does not refer to him, but the situation is nearly the same as far as he is concerned.
I want to pay a tribute to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell). Although working
Japanese Nationals

under a considerable handicap, he has done his part in this matter as far as he could; and as the hon. member for Kamloops said, whenever there was occasion to put his foot down he put it down, and when these people staged an incipient revolt he said, "They will be interned", and they were interned next morning. That is the kind of bold policy that we require. But he has been handicapped by the officials over there as well as some of those here. It is a hard thing to handle, because these chaps about whom we are talking have not been interned, except, of course, a number of them who became rebellious.
Under the labour commission they were paid 25 cents an hour, but they had to pay their board and contribute something toward the keep of their wives, so that by and large they figured that they did not have much left, whereas if they went on a sit-down strike, or if they were insolent to their guards, they were liable to be interned. So that the worst that could happen to them would be to be interned, and then they would get 20 cents a day and would not have to work at all. When they are interned they can devote their energies to making representations to whatever nation represents them-I am not sure whether it is Spain-submitting their complaints to that representative, and if they do not get the treatment and the food to which they think they are entitled under the Geneva convention, they have an excuse to grumble. They can say that they do not care whether they go to school or not, because the worst that can happen to them is to be interned and therefore they are better off. That, I admit, has handicapped the minister.
The hon. member for Fraser Valley (Mr. Cruickshank) said that there was considerable discontent in British Columbia with the gentleman who has been handling the security commission. I have not the time to look up the facts now, but a few weeks ago I quoted a case where the Japs had engaged, not in any sit-down strike, but in open revolt in the immigration buildings in Vancouver. They tore away everything that was tearable and threw it out of the windows; they broke windows and threw out the frames and everything else that was movable. The disturbance had to be suppressed by soldiers, who came out with their bayonets, and when the Japs saw this they collapsed. But when the matter came to be commented on by the chairman of the commission he merely dismissed it with a wave of his hand and said that it was nothing more than a demonstration of a spirit of good humour and playfulness-exuberance, he
called it. I suppose, if they had dropped bombs on the place, or if they had inflicted [Mr. Neill. 1
injury on the guards, it would have been regarded as playfulness just the same. He pooh-poohed the whole thing as if it were merely a spirit of good humour and raillery. That is the way he described it, but that was not the way it was described by the people in British Columbia.
There are three things that I should like to urge upon the government at this time. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) will correct me if I am wrong; but he wrote to me the other day to the effect that in view of complaints which I, in common with others, had made with regard to the inadequacy of the guards and the handicap under which they were operating, the whole matter would be looked into. There was no earthly hope of maintaining proper supervision with three men bearing rifles having to look after 300 men. These Japs could easily get round these men, ask for a match or something of the sort, and stick a knife into them. What control would three men have over 300 under such circumstances? I brought the matter to the attention of the minister, and he said he would endeavour to have a senior official of another department sent there to investigate the situation, because these guards do not care to talk. If the situation gets abroad, the first thing you know, a newspaperman comes on the scene and asks the guards questions. He will ask a guard what he knows about the situation and, if the guard is not a fool, he says, "I know nothing." That is easily understood; his job is at stake, and while he may talk to someone else, he will certainly not discuss matters if he is afraid that he may get into trouble. It was proposed that a senior official be sent out to talk to these men, to get them by themselves and elicit the actual facts. If that was done-and I hope it was-then I suggest it is about time we had a report on what took place.
The next suggestion I wish to make is with regard to the police force. I submit that a larger police force should be placed in these camps. It is altogether inadequate to have three men guarding 300-300 men wandering about loose. I suppose the guards sleep sometimes, and that would mean that if they worked in three shifts, only one would be on duty at a time. If this were a guard of honour it would be all right, but this is war, and these are brutal, cruel people. There may be some good ones, but we do not know which is which. There may be some men there who mean us no harm, but there are undoubtedly others who are there for a deliberate purpose which is injurious to the country. We cannot therefore afford to play with the thing. It would be all right if we were not at war, but under

Javanese Nationals
present circumstances, where these men are less than a quarter of a mile from a bridge which could be blown up, cutting British Columbia off from the east, the matter becomes one of very grave importance.
Following the remarks of other members, the third point on which I wish to speak for just one moment is this. I have already referred to it, but I cannot too soon reiterate it now so that it will not be said afterwards that the government did not know about it. It is the feeling of the people in British Columbia, and it would be the feeling of the people in the rest of the country I am sure, if they were wise and informed, that at the close of the war these men should not be sent back to British Columbia but should be expatriated. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) talks about feelings of humanity, but I suggest that our duty is first to the people of Canada. This has been a canker all along, and it will become worse and worse-it is nothing but a canker in the heart of the country. These people are breeding rapidly, and they have but one mind: first and last
they are Japanese. This is the time to take the necessary action in regard to them, when there are but 22,000 or 23,000, and not when we are overrun with 200,000 or 300,000.
I would impress upon the minister the importance of looking into these three points that I have brought up: first, a definite report on conditions; second, with regard to increasing the police force; and, finally, the question of disposing of these Japanese at the end of the war. I suggest that we should make up our minds now and prepare for the post-war situation, because I do not think we should contemplate for one moment sending these Japanese back to British Columbia. We should expatriate them to Japan at the end of the war.

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