June 8, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


Rodolphe Lemieux



The hon. member (Mr. Barnard) is taking a very safe line. I can remember the day when he was more outspoken. I am glad to see him here, and also to see the hon. member for New Westminister (Mr. Taylor), though both are silent to-day. When the present leader of the Opposition (Sir Wilfred Laurier) was at the head of the Government, he increased the head tax from $100 to $500 in response to the sentiment created in British Columbia against oriental immigration. Some months or years afterwards the whole of the Conservative party in that province declared for a policy of exclusion of oriental immigration. I remember that my hon. and genial friend from Victoria was elected on the strength of a certain telegram, which afterwards proved to be a forgery, and he was too much of a gentleman to have benefited by that telegram. But it is a well known fact that the whole of the Conservative party in British Colum-
LMr. Roche.l
bia was apparently deadly opposed to oriental immigration.
If in those days any one had made the loophole that is being made to-day in the law, we would have heard my hon. friend from Victoria (Mr. Barnard) and my hon. friend from New Westminster (Mr. Taylor) blaming the Government for their action. This is the second time that a question like this has come up in this House within a few days. ,1 regret not to see the hon. member for Vancouver (Mr. Stevens) in his seat. He was very outspoken about the question of Japanese immigration. I remember that in the House he censured me because I had negotiated an arrangement, or a treaty, with the Japanese Government concerning a restricted number of immigrants to Canada. Yet, a few years afterwards, the treaty was renewed and it was renewed with a feather in the cap of the Japanese Consul at Ottawa. I forget the terms of the letters which were exchanged between the right hon. the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden) and the Japanese Consul, but it is a fact that the Japanese Consul got the better of the Prime Minister and got better terms than the Japanese Government had obtained before that time.
The other day we were told by the Prime Minister that the question of Hindu immigration was a live one at the Imperial Conference, and that some way or other, Hindu immigration would become the problem of to-morrow as between the various portions of the Empire. What does that mean? It means that if we do not look after our own business primarily and chiefly, we are going to have very serious problems introduced into our national life. I do not blame the right hon. gentleman for having taken part in the proceedings of the Imperial Conference but as a result of that conference, and as a result of the presence lot Hindu representatives, ;Canada, before many months, surely before many years, will have to face a policy of oriental immigration from India. I would like to know where the party of a white British Columbia will be then. We do not hear from the representatives of British Columbia and I think I voice the sentiments of British Columbia to-day when I protest against any loophole being put in the restrictions which have been embalmed in the statute-book. Nobody complains to-day of the restrictions which were imposed upon the Japanese labour immigration, although we were taunted and taken to task by hon. gentlemen opposite, when we

brought that agreement from Japan. It [DOT]was a wise arrangement, it was a good one; yet we were blamed by the hon. member for Victoria, the hon. member for New Westminster and the gentlemen who toddy represent the province of British Columbia. They were elected on a platform of an exclusive white British Columbia and yet to-day they stand for the policy which is being initiated by the present Government. They stand for Hindu immigration in the near future. They stand for a more liberal treaty with Japan and for a more liberal interpretation of the statute which restricts Chinese immigration. I now speak for British Columbia and 1 ask hon. gentlemen to stand by their policy and principles of a few years ago.

Full View