June 26, 1954 (22nd Parliament, 1st Session)


Cairine Reay Wilson


Mr. Justice Wilson:

"But surely, in fairness, the department should indicate what her shortcomings are; that's an illustration of how people coming to this country don't get fair treatment."
That is a fact which is causing concern. On a number of occasions I have been in conversation with people acting for prospective immigrants, although I do not think I have been in actual conversation with anyone acting for a prospective deportee. But where they are acting for a prospective immigrant they may get a rejection letter from the department saying, "We have to advise you that your application for the admission of this person cannot be granted." Then they have the greatest difficulty in finding out from the department the reasons why the application cannot be granted. They ask for a review. The reason they ask for the review is that they hope that in the course of the review some reason will be elicited, and the case against the application made clear to them, so that they will know what case they have to meet and whether in fact the reasons given by the department are reasons which in their opinion are valid, under the present immigration law, or whether they consider the department is misapplying or misinterpreting the present regulations.
But again they may receive a letter to the effect-"We regret to inform you that, after review, it is not possible to grant the application." Then the question will be asked: Where do we go from there? How do we go about discussing the merits of the case with the department, if we cannot be told on what grounds the department rejects the application?
I can see that there is one branch of cases- and I submit one only-where there is justification for not giving all the reasons, and that is where an applicant is rejected on grounds of security. That would be a case where, upon investigation, it has been disclosed that there is some background indicating that, for reasons of loyalty, such person would not be a desirable immigrant. I can understand that the department certainly should not disclose the details, because of the principle which is generally accepted that to disclose the details, where the information came from, when it was received, and so on, would enable those hostile powers, powers which are not friendly to Canada, to get details of our security system. I submit, however, that in cases where it is relied upon as the reason against the admission, still that fact should be stated.
I agree there is justification in that one type of case for the department not to go into the details, but I cannot see any justification in any other instance for the department not
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration to give detailed reasons why it refuses admission, so that the applicant and his representatives will know what case they have to meet and can decide whether to press it further and whether, as I say, they agree the department is correctly interpreting the immigration laws, or whether in their view they are not, so that the matter could be taken further. At the present time they are at a loss to know what to do when they get this polite but improperly blank refusal to grant the application.
In this connection I note the number of cases where, in respect to the application for the admission of children of Chinese who are Canadian citizens, as well as in other cases, this feeling is becoming widespread. The representatives of the applicants do not know where or how to deal with it. I say we are entitled to hear from the minister this morning a review of details of the administrative practices within the department by which they deal with these applications. I urge that in future in all cases coming up for disposal the department should indicate to the applicant or his representative the reasons for its rejection of the application.
There is one interesting set of figures that I want to place upon the record in closing this survey of immigration, Mr. Chairman. The minister told us last night that, according to the review of Canada's absorptive capacity made this year, the government feels that approximately the same number as last year could safely be admitted to Canada. He did tell us, however, that a review of economic conditions in Canada indicated, if I understood him correctly, that prospective immigrants overseas should be given a stark and stern picture of the employment opportunities in Canada so that they would not arrive here and be disappointed on finding that the opportunities are not those which they have expected. If I heard him correctly, he went on to say that as a result of what I might call the stern outline which is to be given to these applicants, there may be a slightly reduced number coming this year in comparison with the number who came last year.
That is a sound policy, and perhaps it is based on past experience. I know cases have been drawn to the attention of hon. members of immigrants complaining that they were given a rosy picture. They came out and found that conditions were different and they felt that they were unfairly treated. That is most undesirable. We want in Canada people who are able to face hardships and surmount them. That has been our tradition; it would be unwise and unfair to encourage people to come

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration here under the impression that there are opportunities which may not be realized when they get here. This emphasizes the need for care, and I am glad that the department is going to follow that policy.
The other day I drew the minister's attention to the case of an immigrant from Germany who, apparently because of misapprehension on the part of the immigration officers, had been given to understand that he could obtain employment as an aircraft engineer. That was his employment in Germany. When he arrived here he found that, by the terms of a regulation made in Canada, he could not be licensed unless he was a Canadian citizen or came from a country where there were reciprocal arrangements with Canada in that regard, and it so happened that Germany is not such a country. I admit this is rather a technical matter, and it is perhaps asking the immigration officer to be superhuman to know all the regulations in that field. I expect the information was given in good faith over in Germany, but I cite it as an example of the care which is necessary so as not to mislead prospective immigrants.
In the picture presented by the minister's review his statement that there might be a somewhat smaller number coming to Canada as compared with last year is interesting. I hold in my hand a survey made by the Canadian Citizenship Council appearing in their publication "Citizenship Items" of February, 1954. I want to place this picture before the committee because I think it would be well for the department and the government to review their impression of the absorptive capacity of Canada. I will read the article in extenso because it is put in a clear and impressive form. It is headed: "How fast are we growing?" Before I get into the article I should say that very frequently the government, particularly, and others, say that we are now taking in all that we can practically absorb into Canada this year, and that Canada's immigration policy is aggressive and contributing substantially to the growth of the nation. The article is as follows:
Some have said "figures don't lie": others that "you can do anything with figures".
We have assembled here, obtained from authoritative sources, figures relating to our population growth during the decade ending June 30, 1951. In that time our population increased from 11,507,000 to 14,009,000 (some 2,502,000, including 349,000 when Newfoundland became the tenth province).
The greatest factor was that of natural increase. Births exceeded deaths by nearly two million.
The net migration figures-that is, immigration less emigration-are rather interesting. During the decade, some 548,000 newcomers came to Canada, while some 388,000 persons departed to take up residence elsewhere, leaving a net gain by migration of only 160,000, or an average of about 16,000

per year. As at least 6,000 of these were dependents, net migration in the decade did not add to the labour force of the country much over -2 per cent each year.
However, this decade included in its first half war years, when immigration was relatively light compared with more recent years. But if we look at the figures for the period of June 30, 1945 to June 30, 1951, we find that immigration totalled 464,000, emigration 293,000, leaving a net of 171,000, or an approximate average of 34,200 per year. This would mean an approximate addition to the labour force of less than 20,000 per year.
I have added the words "per year" because there appears to be a slight omission in the actual text. I continue:
From time to time we have heard, and read, that Canada's absorptive capacity, as far as immigration is concerned, is about 2 per cent a year. Net migration for the decade resulted in an average yearly increase of only .13 per cent, and for the second half, only -28 per cent.
When we first glanced at these figures, we were somehow reminded of Lewis Carroll. The Queen is speaking. "A slow sort of country. Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you must get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that."
The situation, of course, is not quite like that. However the figures do suggest that for the decade period, in order to replenish the loss through emigration, we had to average about 40,000 newcomers per year, and during the second half of the decade, about 60,000. For during the decade, for every 55 immigrants, we lost through emigration 39 persons.
On the basis of that conclusion, which appears to be accurate and to be substantiated by the figures, one can see, Mr. Chairman, that if in order to replenish losses through emigration we had to take in about
60,000 immigrants, then in a year when we take in 168,000 immigrants we are adding to the net population only slightly over 100,000 persons a year by immigration.
Now, in a population of approximately 14,-
500,000 and in a country with the tremendous growth potential of Canada, I think those figures are interesting and they cast an important light on this question of whether we are approaching our absorptive capacity, and I submit that they indicate that the department should take a good new look at this problem from the point of view of ascertaining whether they are in fact pursuing an aggressive and vigorous policy of immigration, as the minister has frequently claimed we are.
I have here a clipping from the Ottawa Journal of May 5 headed, "Harris Defends Government Stand on Quebec Tax". I do not know how that crept in but apparently the minister had something to say on that subject as well. But this clipping contains these extracts:
Canada will have a population of about 23 million In 1974, Citizenship Minister Harris predicted last night.

Mr. Harris, in charge of citizenship and immigration, said in an address over the political free time series of the C.B.C.:
"If I may . . . peer into the future, it would be to say that in 20 years we shall have about 23 million people instead of 15 million people; that we shall be consuming then nearly all the beef, pork and similar farm products that we produce and pay our farmers a good price for them; that our workmen will have a higher . . . standard of living, and that our exports will not be subject to the fluctuations of one or two specialized markets."
All of which, Mr. Chairman, is a very pleasant and gratifying picture and I hope it is fulfilled. But I would submit that the rate of growth as forecast by the minister is perhaps unduly pessimistic, although perhaps it is realistic in the light of the government's snail-pace immigration policy. A growth in population from 15 million to 23 million would mean an approximate growth of 8 million people, and for that to be realized over 20 years would work out, as I calculate it, to about 400,000 people a year. Therefore, on the basis of that figure of
400,000 people, since the present annual net gain by immigration would appear to be approximately 100,000, that leaves the natural increase in the present population to account for the remainder of approximately 300,000 per year. The government has no control over the birth rate; and taking the over-all picture for the rate of growth, at least by immigration, that appears to me to be a very cautious and unduly slow rate of growth to be predicted for this country, particularly in the light of predictions that the twentieth century belongs to Canada. That might have to be modified as a result of government inaction to a prediction that the second half of the twentieth century belongs to Canada, and certainly if this forecast by the minister is to be fulfilled it will have to be postponed further and modified to read that the first half of the twenty-first century belongs to Canada. But I hope that this government will not be in power sufficiently long to retard Canada's rate of growth to that extent.
That, Mr. Chairman, about completes the review I had intended to undertake of the immigration situation in Canada today. We have in the past benefited enormously by the immigration we have had, and we believe that that experience and that pattern can be repeated in the future. We believe, however, that the government is not showing any signs of doing what it said it intended to do, that is, pursue a vigorous and realistic immigration policy, or of pursuing that also within the principle the government itself laid down, the principle of maintaining the ethnic balance of the country.
I submit that the figures I have placed on the record establish the inadequacies of the
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration government's present program in these respects, and I urge the minister and hon. members opposite-as the hon. member for Spa-dina did in 1950-to take out their flints and stones and try once again to strike a spark which will light a fire under the immigration department of this government.

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