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


Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Coldwell:

Mr. Chairman, the hon. member for Kamloops has, I think, given a very interesting criticism and review of some of our immigration policies, and I too propose to say something about immigration and then perhaps turn to the other departments of government which are administered by the present minister of immigration.
I think, of course, that immigration, if it is to be successful, must be realistic. It must give the people who come into this country a true impression of the kind of country to which they are coming, the kind of life they may expect to lead in this country, and we who are here already should give them a welcoming hand.
Perhaps I can say this as one who was an immigrant to this country almost 45 years ago. I say this because in my first year or two I fell in among a friendly group of Canadian citizens in western Canada, and through them I became a very happy citizen of this country in which since then my life has been and will be spent.
Therefore, I think that one of the things that the people across our country should do is to do their level best to welcome immigrants when they come into the country and assist them in finding their feet in what is, after all, a very new life for all of them.
During my 45 years' experience in western Canada I have seen people coming into the country who at the time looked perhaps rather difficult to absorb into our Canadian way of life. I am not so alarmed about the ethnic balance as is my hon. friend from Kamloops. In my lifetime I have seen in western Canada people who came into this country from eastern, central, and southern Europe, and I have worked among them and have come to know them very well. I must say that sometimes these people were exploited by those who were already here. But I have had the pleasure over the last number of years of seeing the children of these immigrants-depressed peasants, very often, from those parts of Europe to which I have referred-play a very important part in the life of our country.
Indeed, just over a week ago I had the privilege of being able to accept an invitation to witness the opening of a large Roman Catholic church in my constituency, and I was very happy indeed to meet the new
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration bishop of Saskatoon. Many of the immigrants who came from eastern Europe gave all their children an opportunity to integrate themselves into the life of this country, and among them is the new bishop of Saskatoon who, I am certain, will play a very worthy and important part in the life of the province to which his parents came.
It made me feel a little bit older than I am, because he was born near the town when I was principal at Sedley, Saskatchewan. It made me feel that, after all, life was passing along. I think I had some of his family at school in those days. I just mention that matter in passing, because, as I say, I am not so much worried about the ethnic origin of people who are coming to this country. Of course, I want to see the people who come here become imbued with our spirit of democracy, to understand our parliamentary and other democratic institutions, and to become good citizens of Canada. That I have seen them do. If we have a carefully planned system of immigration I believe that we shall meet with the success that we have met in the past. We have an excellent school system in our various provinces. The teachers in the schools throughout the years have done a great deal indeed to build up the kind of citizenship of which I think we can all be proud, not only in western Canada but all over this country.
What I was going to say is this. I think every care should be exercised to see that immigrants, when they plan to come to this country, are given a correct impression of what they will find when they reach here.
I am also going to say, from my own personal experience, that I was fortunate, as I have already said, about the Alberta people among whom I landed 45 years ago. But I recall an immigration lecture which I heard before leaving Devonshire.
I had bought my ticket to Edmonton, Alberta, in January 1910. Shortly afterwards an immigration agent from the government or from the railways-I forget which it was-visited the little town where I was born and where I was at that time. I went to the lecture and I saw some beautiful pictures of Canada. Among them was a picture of the city to which I was going, namely the city of Edmonton. Then the next picture that was thrown on the screen was that of rather nice-looking girls picking peaches in an orchard. The placing together of those two pictures led me to think that when I got to Edmonton I would find peach orchards. As a matter of fact, I remember driving from Strathcona, as it was then-it is south Edmonton now-into north Edmonton as it is today, because there was no C.P.R. station there then; and crossing the river

valley by bus I saw some cottages with a few little trees that I understood afterwards were poplar trees. I turned to a gentleman whom I had met on the train and had been talking to, and I said, "I suppose those are peach trees". That was the effect of the placing on the screen of two pictures in close proximity.

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