Mr. Chairman, last night the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration gave us a brief review of the activities of his department, outlining the work done by the three main branches. In my remarks this morning I shall confine myself pretty well to the immigration branch. First of all, however, I wish to express regret that this
6788 HOUSE OF
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration department seems to be one which is always left until the last minute when intelligent discussion and adequate review are entirely impossible.
The minister has been pressed on a number of occasions this year to bring on his estimates somewhat in advance of the last day. He has indicated from time to time that he feels his department has been adequately discussed on previous occasions. The fact is that we have not had an adequate or full discussion of this department since 1950, and that for the three years since then until the present time the department has in fact been discussed for approximately only three days and one hour. I looked up the record. In 1951 this department was discussed for one day, and that actually was not a full day, the discussion only occupying 22 pages of Hansard which, according to my calculations, would be somewhere between two and three hours. That was on June 28. The session ended that year on June 30.
In 1952 again the department was discussed on only one day, the main estimates occupying again only 22 pages of Hansard or, being generous, a discussion of perhaps three hours. That was on July 4, the day of prorogation. In 1953, last year, it was discussed on three occasions. The first was the end of the evening on April 23 when the , discussion occupied 74 pages of Hansard. The department was called on the next day, April 24, when the full day was devoted to it. However, at that time there were morning sittings and many committees sitting, and in fact one member complained that he had not been able to be here although he had some things he wanted to say. It was not called again until May 14 when it was discussed for approximately one minute, just long enough to carry one item.
These figures show, as I say, that since 1950 we have been able to discuss this department only on two days for about 3 hours each, one other full day, and one hour on another day. And again in 1954 we find ourselves in the position where this department is left until the very close of the session when we are up against a deadline, and because of the atmosphere in which we are now working it is just not sensible to suggest that we can have a proper discussion of the affairs of this very important branch of government.
Looking through the records of past discussions to find out what was said, I find that there is a reason which occurs to mind immediately why the minister should leave his department always until this stage of the session. It has not been adequately discussed since 1950 for the reason that in 1950,
when there was time to have an adequate discussion, the department was very severely criticized. It was severely criticized by a number of members on the government side of the house, who had some quite severe things to say about the policy or lack of policy being followed in the administration, particularly of the immigration branch of the department. I can well understand why the minister, therefore, is anxious to avoid discussion of his estimates so far as possible and has been successful in doing so.
I notice that in the debate of 1950 the hon. member for Rosedale made a fairly extensive review of the department. He made a statement with which, as a matter of fact, I cannot agree, when he said that in our immigration policy preference is given to immigrants of English, Irish, Scottish, French and American extraction. In the course of the same debate the hon. member for Spadina spoke at some length and his remarks will be found at pages 3584 and following of Hansard for 1950. He criticized the policy of the government as being "not a policy at all". He went on to say:
My purpose in speaking tonight is to try to build a fire under the minister and the department so that he may get on with his job.
I regret, Mr. Chairman, that the fire lighted by the hon. member for Spadina, if in fact it was lighted, appears to have burned out some years ago, so what we are doing now is raking over some rather dead ashes.
The hon. member for Spadina at page 3586 of Hansard also spoke in a most earnest manner urging the government to foster immigration from the United Kingdom. I regret to say that it is my view, according to the figures which have been placed on Hansard each year in the course of this review, that that has not been done to the extent it should have been.
What happened after these efforts in 1950? In 1951 we had a good year in immigration. There were some 190,000 immigrants admitted to Canada. The totals admitted during the next three years declined substantially from that level, so that not only have we a decline in the numbers being admitted but it is my view that the policy laid out by the government in 1947 by the then prime minister, and since that time subscribed to and reiterated by the present minister, is not being fulfilled. I have reference particularly to the situation regarding the maintenance of the ethnic balance of this country. If one looks at the figures put on the record again by the minister last night, and I have them in detail before me in a release from the statistical unit of the department, it will be seen that when you have 47,077 from the
United Kingdom plus 9,000 from the United States, making a total of 56,000 of that category admitted in the year, and in the same year you have 68,675 north Europeans, including 35,015 Germans and you have 43,737 others, including 24,219 from Italy, it is not possible to agree with the minister when he says the policy of preserving the ethnic balance within the country is being followed.
From time to time we on this side of the house have made it perfectly clear we do not ask for any special preference being given to any one country as a source of origin of immigration or that we should concentrate exclusively on bringing in immigrants from that country. 1 want to reiterate that position here this morning. We subscribed to the view that Canada should take immigrants who are capable of being absorbed into both our economic and cultural background from any country where suitable immigrants offer. But we do say that should be tempered, if you like, to fit in with this policy of maintaining the ethnic balance and, not distorting the cultural or economic situation in Canada. The figures which I have placed upon the record as to the experience in that regard indicate clearly that principle is not being observed.
We have also, from time to time, criticized the government for apparent inability to work out an intelligent and vigorous application of the assisted passage loan scheme as applied to the United Kingdom, so that we may encourage more immigration from there. I have been given information as to the countries in which that scheme was applied, and the number of immigrants brought forward under that scheme since February, 1951, up to December 31, 1952, which I was given to understand was the last day for which figures were available.