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


Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition):

It is with some hesitation that I intrude into this discussion any views I hold with regard to this matter. In the first place, we are all more or less unprepared to discuss an important matter such as this at short notice, especially those of us who have no official information. Let me say at once to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) that with respect to the humaneness of the attitude of this government, I think the people of Canada will sustain him in the principle he is endeavouring to enunciate. It must not be

Japanese Nationals
said that we departed from the spirit of British fair play with respect to a matter of this nature, not so much because of fear of reprisals, which must be an important and almost a dominant factor in dealing with a matter of this kind but, if I may say so, for our own self-respect. I do not think it should be ever urged that because the Japanese are brutal, because they do not obey the laws and instincts of humanity, we should descend to the same level.
Having said that, let me say that I do believe the administration approached this problem with a good deal of hesitation and delay. I do not believe even the boldest spokesman for the government would say that they adopted a great deal of courage in dealing with this matter at its inception. There must have been in the minds of the administration, those who had studied this question, the knowledge that once Japan was at war with the united nations, we would have to be prepared for the worst with regard to what might happen on the part of Japanese nationals within our own territorial limits. Nevertheless I think the administration dallied with the matter. Finally a policy was established. I do not know who gave birth to it, but at the start it gave promise of developing into a method whereby a solution might be reached. That policy was the establishment of a security commission on the spot; and, looking at the matter as dispassionately as one can, I think the basis of the policy was sound, nor up to the moment have I heard anything which would merit condemnation of the theory behind that policy. But I will say that from the information which has reached me and from all the information that has been placed on record by hon. members from British Columbia, the security commission either found it difficult to act promptly and effectively or did not so act for other reasons.
I suggest to the government that there should be given to the people of British Columbia, our own flesh and blood, a feeling of security with respect to the possibilities that may eventuate from the presence of these Japanese there. This just cannot be done by the methods which I understand are in vogue. For instance, I am told there are three guards in a camp of 300 men, one guard on duty at a time. He carries one rifle and twelve rounds of ammunition. Why, simply to state this is to bring ridicule on the means adopted by the security commission to attain the ends sought.
Let the Minister of Labour, in whose charge this matter rests-although I believe five different departments of government have had something to do with it-set up a force sufficiently large and strong, and sufficiently capable to enforce order and discipline, and to
see that these men work while they are within the jurisdiction of the security commission. Not only that; let it be a force large enough to see that no sabotage is carried on. That is an important point raised by the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid) and other hon. members. They have pointed out that these Japanese are left in a position whereby, with one stick of dynamite and lacking proper care, they could disrupt the transportation systems between British Columbia and the prairies.
Surely this is evidence of weakness. I am not condemning the government. They acted slowly at first. I believe that at least in theory the principle of the system they set up was sound, but it has not had power enough in its elbow. It has not used the power in its elbow to a sufficient degree. I suggest that a force of men be put in there, at the country's expense, to see that there is no sabotage, that there are no sit-down strikes and that discipline is maintained. All that can be done, and done humanely, too. My suggestion to the gov-ernmeilt is to strengthen the force they have there, and to see that when an order is given it is carried out.
I am not saying anything about expatriation after the war is over. I have no doubt that every white man in British Columbia would like to have that policy carried out. It may be a right policy, but I do not like to express an opinion upon it without further information. However, I could certainly visualize the difficulty of carrying out such a policy.

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