March 22, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)



In reply to the suggestion of my hon. friend (Mr. Paquet) that there should be a moral examination of the immigrant before he leaves his own country, I would point out that, while that would be possible in the case of immigrants from the continent of Europe, it seems to me it would be either difficult or ineffective in the case of immigrants coming from the British islands. On the continent there is a general system of supervision of the people; a record is kept of every individual. Consequently, as I have suggested, it would be possible, in the case of immigrants from the continent of Europe to arrive at a very fair idea as to their conduct by such a scheme of investigation as my hon. friend suggests without unduly and unreasonably hampering the immigration movement. But I fear that, in the case of British immigrants who come from a country where there is no such system of keeping records of individuals, the result would be to hamper desirable immigration to a degree that would be beyond the benefit that we should derive. The deportation provisions of our Act are, I think, reasonably effective in getting rid of the morally unfit. That is the purpose, at any rate. And I think that the purpose is fairly served. So that, when an immigrant arrives in Canada, if we find within a reasonable time that he is morally unfit, we can, under the Act, return him to the country from whence he came at a minimum of expense to Canada. This fact -that they can be returned and that the expense of return has to be borne by the transportation company, and the effect of failure by the unfortunate person who is deported-seems to me to be a fair deterrent. I think the House will find, as we wrork along the lines of our present Immigration Act, that the effect will be to restrict the coming of the undesirables through the knowledge that if they come they can and will be sent back.
As to the suggestion that there should be a medical examination on board the ship on the way out, I quite appreciate the great advantage there would be in adopting such a plan. Certainly, it would give an opportunity for physical examination which does not exist in the rush and hurry that occurs in the landing at the ocean port. But, on the other hand, there would have to be considered the very large expense that would be involved in making such an examination as is proposed. But, if the matter is fairly examined, and if the
immigrants who came last year and those who are coming this year be considered rather than those who came years ago before we put in force the restrictive and selective provisions of the Act under a selective and restrictive policy, I think it will be found that the conditions are not such as would reasonably require the additional expense that would be involved in my hon. friend's suggestion.

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