June 21, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


James Shaver Woodsworth


Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Centre Winnipeg) :

Mr. Speaker, I take it that this
report of the committee really has the effect of side-tracking the bill, and that no action wilt be taken along this line at this session. I am not sufficiently familiar with the procedure of this House to know whether a recommendation of this charac-tre would even bind the Government to introduce legislation along this line at the next session. I noticed that it was stated in committee, I think by the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. McMurray) that even if this bill were passed in this House, it 'would be rejected by the Senate, because of the one who introduced it. It seems to me that is rather a serious reflection upon the Senate, for I take it that any bill ought to be discussed and decided upon on its merits, and not because of the particular individual who brings it before the House. Further than that, it would seem to be a very strange thing if this House should be dissuaded from presenting a piece of legislation for fear the Senate would reject it. I take it that it is our duty to bring before this House these measures which we consider in the general welfare and to treat them on their merits.
There are several things to which, it seems to me, attention ought to be called. After all the various meetings of the committee only three minor recommendations are brought in. I would call attention to the fact that the bill provided for certain revisions with regard to two different parts of the Immigration Act. The amendment to the act was passed in 1919. And an amendment to that amendment passed

Immigration-Criminal Code
a few days later. The report does not deal at all with the original amendment; but refers merely to the amendment to the amendment, leaving the original amendment, which is absolutely vicious in character, altogether untouched. We are told in the recommendation of the committee, that these words should be repealed.
Or is suspected, of belonging to.
I agree with that; it is good as far as it goes. But that would still leave the amendment untouched. The committee recommends that we should take out the retroactive sections. That, too, is good as far as it goes. There is further recommendation that these clauses should not apply to Canadian citizens. They do not apply today, and that is the very point of the bill. It is barely possible that relief may be given to one particular class, the British citizen who has been naturalized in Canada, although, so far as my study of the bill goes, I think there is just a possibility that it might not apply to him. As the bill stands it means that any one born outside of Canada, whether alien or British-born, is liable to deportation. The essential part of this legislation lies in this. Section 41 in the amendment, which is not touched, and which as well as the amendment to the amendment, provides that certain classes shall be incapable of becoming Canadian citizens since they are not able to establish domicile. The section reads:
Provided that the time spent by a person while confined in or an immate of any penitentiary, gaol, reformatory, prison or asylum for the insane in Canada shall not be counted in the period of residence in Canada wh.ch is necessary in order to acquire Canadian domicile, and provided further that no person who belongs to the prohbited or undesirable classes within the meaning of section forty-one of this act shall 1 be capable of acquiring Canadian domicile.
Now turn to section 41-not the section 41 to which the Chairman of the committee made referecne, but section 41 of the original amendment-which reads:
Whenever any person.... shall by word or act create or attempt to create riot or public disorder in Canada, or shall by common repute belong to or be suspected of belonging to any secret society or organization which extorts money from, or in any way attempts to control any resident of Canada by force or threat of bodily harm, or by blackmail, or who is a member of or affiliated with any organization entertaining or teaching disbelief in or opposition to organized government; such person for the purposes of this act shall be considered as belonging to the prohibited or undesirable classes, and shall be liable to deportation.
That is to say, whether a man has been in this country one year or twenty years,

whether he has been naturalized or not, if he is deemed undesirable according to this classification he is incapable of obtaining Canadian domicile and in that case is liable to deportation. Let me say in passing that while the committee recommends that the section in Chap. 26 should be amended by striking out the word "suspected", that word still stands in this section of Chap. 25.
Any person suspected of an offence under this section may forthwith be arrested and detained without warrant by any officer foi examination and deportation.
Now, the Minister of Immigration (Mr. Stewart) has been advocating a particular immigration policy during the past few weeks. Some members on this side have opposed that policy. The hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Garland) has (been rigorously opposing that policy in so far as it relates to juvenile immigrants. Well, suppose his opposition becomes obnoxious to the Minister of Immigration. He thereby becomes undesirable; he may be classed as an agitator, and I presume there would be some presumptive evidence to substantiate that classification in the fact that he comes from Ireland. Under the circumstances there is nothing whatever in this act to prohibit the Minister of Immigration from declaring my hon. friend undesirable and deporting him to Ireland without trial. It is that sort of thing we want to put beyond the range of possibility. We want to see to it that the hon. member for Bow River-this is purely a supposititious case, of course,-if he is regarded by the minister as undesirable, shall be tried before a jury, and that the matter shall not be disposed of by a minister of the Crown. I shall move, seconded by the hon. member for East Calgary (Mr. Irvine) :
That the second report of the Special Committee on Bill No. 16 be not concurred in but that the same be sent back to the Special Committee to amend the bill by providing that no one shall be deported for any political offence committed in Canada without being granted a trial by jury.
It may be that there were some clauses in my bill as introduced which did not exactly meet the situation. I quite conceded that at the time, and when the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) suggested that the matter be referred to a special committee I very gladly accepted the suggestion, because it seemed to me only reasonable that in the committee the whole question could be better threshed out and what was faulty in the wording of the bill could be improved so that the result aimed

Immigration-Criminal Code
at might be achieved. I fully agree with the finding of the committee that it is highly desirable that the whole Immigration Act should be redrafted. It has been amended and reamended until it is exceedingly difficult to ascertain exactly what its purport is. But I should like to see the provision which I propose incorporated in the act at this session of Parliament. It has been admitted that this legislation was placed on the statute books during a time of hysteria, just after the war, and hon. members on both sides of the House are agreed that it is no longer necessary. Indeed, Sir, I can hardly conceive of a Liberal government, headed by a Prime Minister who is the grandson of William Lyon Mackenzie, refusing to grant us legislation of this character. My amendment provides that no one shall be deported for any political offence committed in Canada without being granted a trial by jury. This legislation which I seek to amend is not intended primarily to keep people out of the country; its purpose is to deal with people already in Canada. I am not referring to the question of political offences committed in the Old Country by prospective immigrants, my proposal has reference to any offences that may be alleged to have been committed by people in this country. Nor am I speaking of that class of immigrants who may be physically or mentally defective, who may become paupers, or who may have committed some crime other than political. I am speaking purely of political offences, because it is in this respect that our objection applies. I am not condoning political offences, but I do say that, when such an offence is alleged to have been committed, the whole question should not be decided in camera by a minister of the Crown but rather that the people of the country, through a jury, should give their decision as to whether or not the offence has been committed and hence that accused deserves deportation. When introducing this bill I made an appeal to French speaking Canadians to join with English speaking Canadians in giving this measure of relief to the British-'born in this country. Personally, I have no particular concern in the matter as I happen to be Canadian born; yet as a Canadian it does materially affect me, for I feel ashamed that our statute books should contain legislation that deprives my British-born friends and comrades of their right to trial by jury. And I would speak not merely of the British-born but also of the foreign-born in this country. We are 2103
spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to attract immigrants, and certainly it ought to be the proud iboast of Canadians that any man who comes here to make this country his home will at least get a fair chance. In North Winnipeg members of the Canadian Club have erected a flag pole from which they sometimes fly the Union Jack, hoping in this way to make good Canadian citizens of the foreigners who are living in that section of the city. I would suggest that you may fly the flag for a long time, but you are not going to make the foreign-born good Canadian citizens as long as there is gross injustice existing under that flag.

Full View