April 22, 1918 (13th Parliament, 1st Session)


Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)



Some of them for cause. Quite a number of them were interned more largely under the inspiration of the sentiment of compassion, if I may use the expression, than because of hostility. At that time, when the labour market was glutted and there was a natural disposition to give the preference in the matter of employment to our own people, thousands of these aliens were starving in some of our cities. There were thousands of them in Montreal, great numbers of them in Winnipeg, large numbers in Port Arthur. In many instances we interned these people because we felt that, saying to them, "You shall not leave the country,'' we were not entitled to say, "You shall starve within the country." However that may be, a considerable number for cause, and an additional number for the reasons which I have given, were interned, until at one time we had some seven or eight thousand interned aliens. So that we were not

oblivious of the existence of aliens in this country, nor absolutely inactive with regard to looking after them.
Very shortly after the outbreak of war we established a very general system of registration. We established registration offices in the places throughout the country where there were considerable numbers of persons of alien enemy nationality. We summoned them to register-at Montreal, Sydney, Toronto, Winnipeg and cities throughout the West; among them, I think, two cities of British Columbia. We called for a general registration of persons of alien enemy nationality, and that registration was very thorough and very complete. But there came a time when the persons of alien enemy nationality were registered, and when the work was completed there remained only the task of supervising the reporting of those who had registered. We found that with one or two exceptions the work could be done as effectively through the police officers in the different localities, and we did not feel justified in keeping up offices and large staffs wholly for the purpose of taking these reports. Up to the present day, by the police officers in different parts of the country, under the supervision and direction of the Chief Commissioner of Police, track is kept of the alien enemies. The member for North Simeoe (Mr. Currie) referred to the county of Waterloo as a place w'here there had been no registration office. It is quite true that we did not have a registration office there, but the Chief Commissioner of Dominion Police appointed a representative to gather the necessary information with regard to persons of alien enemy nationality in that district and to take proceedings wherever that might be necessary. People who are familiar with the conditions in that county will, perhaps, see why we did not consider it necessary to establish a registration office there. The great bulk of the people of alien enemy nationality within that county were not people such as you have to deal with in the western provinces, or in the cities of Montreal, Toronto, and other places-that is, recently arrived immigrants. They were, in large volume-the bulk of them, I think- people who had resided there for many years, who were located on farms, established there, known to everybody. The purpose of registration is to acquire information about people, and when you are dealing with an old, settled community, where information with regard to everybody is easily procurable, there is not the same need

to call for registration as there is when you are dealing with a floating or unknown population. However, whether we were mistaken in that, particular-

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