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


Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)


I see there might be
a difference in a case of that sort. After the Russian is naturalized he does not, of course, come in under the regular law, and a British subject would consequently be in a different position under the amendment. But what has always been the law is this: a Russian, a Pole, or any one else coming from another country to Canada, was, if he belonged to that class, deportable under the regular machinery of the Immigration Act. Now, in the spring of 1919 it was felt desirable-and, I think, universally felt desirable; it was not a party measure in the least-that that be altered and that the same restraints and powers that had obtained in relation to immigrants from another country obtain in relation to immigrants from Great Britain. The reasons for that, of course, were to be found in the events, the temper and the very atmosphere of the time. There is nothing easier now, in the light of calmer and more peaceful years, when the psychology of the people is changing, and naturally so, as we recede from the war-nothing easier than to look back on those days and to be wise and say: "Oh, all this was just the same as now, though we did not know it; we were deceived by events; we were really ourselves the instigators of the riotous times through which we lived." Well, sometimes it is only an affected wisdom that comes with the years. At the time, the action taken was believed to be the part of wisdom. I am not one of those who feel that immigrants to Canada from the Mother Land should, under normal conditions, be treated the same as immigrants from other countries. I think we must have regard to the unity of this Empire; we must have some regard to citizenship within this Empire in the determination of all our laws. Of that I am convinced, and it has relation to immigration, perhaps, more than anything else. But this law was framed for the circumstances of the time, because we were then having very considerable difficulty with just that class of immigrants, and we felt we had to take some summary and effective method of dealing

Immigration-Criminal Code
with the difficulty if the Government was to do its duty and cope with the situation that confronted it. The amendment passed, and I am not sure that the law was ever acted upon, but I do believe it did good while it was there. I have recollection of one case, but I know it never was acted on arbitrarily. If the minister did concur in deportation under it, he took the precaution first to have an independent investigation held; in the case I have referred to I am pretty sure it was a judge of one /f the courts of Winnipeg who was called in under the Immigration Act and made a party to the investigation, and his report was acted upon. Anyway, the next year the Government, through the then Minister of Labour, introduced a bill to repeal that amendment. It failed to pass the Senate. In the Senate there was no party division; I do not know what the proportions were, but a very considerable number from both parties in the Senate-a very large majority, I think

opposed the repeal. Last year the Government took the same attitude. It felt that the time for the operation of this provision had passed; that it was no longer necessary. Accordingly, the Government introduced into this House a bill-or, rather, took over a bill introduced by the hon. member for Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe) and passed it through this House; but again, under similar circumstances, it failed to pass the Senate. The committee recommends that the course pursued, but not carried to successful termination because of the negative action of the Senate in 1920 and 1921, be pursued again. I am of the same view that I was then; therefore I concur in the report of the committee.
Amendment (Mr. Woodsworth) negatived.
Motion (Mr. Archambault) agreed to and report concurred in.

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