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


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



We did not establish a registration office in that particular county, hut we did establish a system by which we were able to keep track of the alien enemy population there, just as throughout the rest of the country. It is well that we should have the suggestions which hon. gentlemen have thrown out as to what we might do that might be better; on the other hand, it is well also that hon. members should know that we have not been absolutely doing nothing, waiting to hear from them this evening.
Not only did we have that system of registration and of internment, but we had a very effective system by which the incoming and the out-going of the alien enemy was controlled. This was done under the direction also of the Dominion police, and largely through the instrumentality of the immigration officers. The coming and going was very closely watched and very effectively controlled. I must render testimony to the work of Sir Percy Sherwood. Ever since the war broke out he has maintained a most careful supervision over the action of alien enemies in this country. Reports were received from all quarters in the early stages of the war- in much greater number than they are received to-day-embodying suggestions of groups here and individuals there who were reported as being dangerous. All these suggestions were gone into and run to the ground, even in cases where on the face of them they appeared to be futile. The greatest possible care was taken. At the outset of the war, when we were apprehensive of trouble from the alien enemy resident in the United States-that country then being at peace-we had a most effective system of ascertaining what was going on there, and complete reports were received. That system, of course, is better when carried out quietly. As some evidence that we were not entirely idle, may I not say this: we are in the fourth year of the war; what have we had in the way of outrage or crime or violence from
the alien of enemy nationality? When this war broke out, I was very apprehensive on this subject, and so was tSir Percy Sherwood who set to work to make plans to guard against such occurrences. It goes to show probably that jur apprehensions were exaggerated; it goes to show that some of the fears expressed here tonight of what the alien enemy might do were exaggerated, but if also goes to show that effective methods to keep in touch with what was going on must have been resorted to. Strong testimony that there was somewhere an eye that was watching and a hand that was controlling is to be found in the fact that we have gone as far as we have, and that with this large population of alien enemy nationality, we have had so little of crime, of violence, proceeding from them in this country.
There are just two other subjects with regard to which I should like to say something. There is the question of our conscripting, or compelling to join in our military operations, persons of allied nationality residing in this country. That is a matter on which we have not been idle. Just after the conscription law was passed, following out a suggestion that had 'been made before it was passed and which, at that time, did not seem feasible;, we took steps to make provision, and there is presently a law in force in this country, enacted by Order in Council, under which, if . our allies were ready to take their men home, we provided the necessary machinery for rounding the men up and delivering them to their respective countries. That was passed at the instance of the Italian Consul, the French Consul, the Belgian Consul; and it was passed because we did not want to wait for a treaty. As hon. members all know, we are not in a position to make treaties directly. Everybody knows the slowness of diplomatic action. To; get in advance of the treaties, we passed this law at that time in the full expectation that those respective Governments would be in a position to avail themselves of it. Our part is all ready, and we are ready to carry it out. What happened, unfortunately, was that the respective Governments were not able to find transportation for their men. The trouble is not for lack of our being ready to do our part. Shortage of transportation is the only reason why those have not .'been sent home to join the forces of their respective countries.
As to our conscripting them, that is something we cannot do until the treaties are carried out, and the treaties have to be negotiated and finally executed through

the home authorities. As hon. members know, an agreement Ijias (been come to *with the United (States, lit is delayed awaiting the action of the United States Senate. There is no means by which we can hurry it. We have done the best within our power to press it As regards the treaties with France, Italy and Belgium, the British Government has, I understand, entered into treaties with those countries with regard to the people of those countries within the United Kingdom. They communicated with us some months ago, and we replied asking them to see that the treaty was so extended as to enable us to conscript the men of those nations within this country. I, myself, personally, on more than one occasion have cabled and written pressing for action upon the subject. I am not saying that by way of criticism of the authorities in the Old Country. Doubtless they have many things to attend to at the present moment. I mention the matter only for the purpose of bringing home to hon. members the fact that we are just as anxious as they can be to get that system into operation.
Just one more word upon the subject of how we can deal with the person of alien enemy nationality in the Hvay of compelling him to work. It has been said that we can intern him. Yes, we oan. It has been said that we we can make him register. Yes, we can. We have made him register and we have interned1 him, in the measure which it seemed to us useful to do it. I may say, before I leave the subject of internment, that when we had seven or eight thousand of those people interned, it was costing this country something over $1,500,000 a year. We found that the sentiment of every man who came into contact with the Austrian who was interned' was that he was absolutely not dangerous.

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