March 25, 1968 (27th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Ralph Bronson Cowan


Mr. Cowan:

Mr. Chairman, I was waiting to hear what the minister might say in answer to the hon. member for Springfield. I do not wish to speak at length on the matter. I was happy to receive the assurance from the minister that the points system is not an established sacred cow. I must tell him that from the advice I have from the Toronto immigration office it is an established sacred cow there at the moment. I am glad to know that the minister will disestablish that situation.
There is one point I want to emphasize to the minister and it is this. What is the competence of the examining officers in the first place? I have already extended public thanks, and I have done so privately as well, to the minister for having granted a special permit
Supply-Manpower and Immigration to a gentleman and family from Jamaica. I sat through the hearing in Toronto before the special inquiry officer on the Jamaican's application. We were accompanied by the minister of his church, Pape Avenue Baptist Church, and heard the questioning of the Jamaican citizen who is now in Toronto. The questions were fired at him by the special inquiry officer. I would have presumed that he was an able, well educated man who knew what he was doing. He asked the Jamaican what was the date of the armistice in the first world war and the Jamaican said November 11, 1918.
The inquiry officer fired another question. He said, "What was the date of the armistice in the second world war?" That was the first moment I intervened. I was called a counsel, although I am not a lawyer. The only way I could get into the hearing was as the Jamaican's counsel. So I said to the special inquiry officer, "What are you talking about? No matter what answer this Jamaican gives you he will be wrong because there was no armistice in the second world war. It was unconditional surrender." Judging from what some members of parliament have told me, a peace treaty has not been signed yet between Germany and the allies, so the investigating officer's question was wrong. Peace not having been signed, the war is not over technically. So I said, "There was no armistice in the second world war. No matter how this fellow answers he is going to be wrong and either way you are going to dock marks off him."
To show the mental capacity of that special inquiry officer I would point out that there was a transcript made of the questions and answers, and because my interventon showed that the special inquiry officer was not master of the situation-he did not like to be shown up in this way-there were some changes made. If you will look at the departmental transcript of the hearing you will find that he has changed his question. In his question he now says, "What was the date of the end of the second world war." I am shown as objecting. "I object to the question because there was no armistice in the second world war." If the examining officer has no more intelligence than that shown by his secondary question, it does not say much for him. He altered his question without making any contact with me. I intervened because of the falseness of his first question. The altered transcript shows that the special inquiry officer is not very bright.
March 25. 1968
Supply-Manpower and Immigration
I think that in the first instance we should have higher quality judges in the department.
I agree with the hon. member for York South. More than one man should be required to make this life or death decision affecting the welfare of families. I do not know whether I would agree that three people of the quality of the one I have just described are better than one good, intelligent man, but certainly I believe the quality of the examiners should be raised.
Since the minister has been kind enough to say that the point system is not sacred I should like to ask him what is the meaning of the paragraph on page 6 of the regulations dated September 12, 1967, which reads:
The regulations also provide that either a nominated relative or an independent applicant who comes to Canada as a visitor and then applies to remain permanently will have to meet slightly higher selection standards than if he had applied overseas.
A 24-year old chap to whom I am referring, a Greek, got a total of 45 marks-I have the examination marks right here-on his examination. We were told by the special inquiry officer that he had to have 50 marks because he applied in Canada. Why does the man who applies in Canada have to have five more marks or points than the man who applies overseas? What is the difference? He is not a different man overseas than he is in Canada. In fact, he has had enough get up and go to pay his way out here and also to buy his return ticket. He must have the return half on his visa. And because he has shown some spunk and got here on his own he is told, "You must have five more points than if you had not come here and had applied through any average, regular immigration office in Europe, Asia or South America." I have had South American applicants. Why must people get five more points in Canada than if they applied elsewhere?
Mr. Minister, I have already said I have no complaints with the handling of these cases by the officers of your department. I have congratulated you for your fine spirit and deep concern about this matter. You have said that the points system is not sacred, that you are not going to sanctify the points system in this mundane world. I also wish you would drop the use of the word "deportation" on every piece of printing material that comes out of the immigration department for would-be immigrants.

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