April 8, 1927 (16th Parliament, 1st Session)


Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)


Immigration Act-Mr. Bennett
it the policy of the people and government of Canada to place a premium on alien agitators being permitted to rave against the crown of Britain, against the crown of Canada, and against the government in Canada? Since when did we desire to place our imprimatur upon favouring agitators of that character? All we -are doing outside of the Criminal Code now is simply to say that we are not going to the trouble of having a long trial and all the accompanying agitation in the public press, magnifying these men into heroes. No, we are merely going to send them back to the country they came from; that is all.
Take the United States of America. They talk of liberty and freedom, and practise it, they say, more than any other people in the world. Would they permit the repeal of a section such as that? Look at the deportations from that country now. Look at the Canadians they have sent back. Look at England refusing to vise passports for certain persons wanting to enter the United States. Look at the action of the United States with respect to undesirables at Ellis Island and at other points.
Why repeal this section now when the 'effect of it is simply to enable us at a moment of great peril, when we are sure of our facts, to send these undesirable persons back to the country they came from? I do submit, Mr. Speaker, that this is not the time to repeal it. I can see no reason why the government having discharged its duty, as I understand it, to the hon. gentleman, having promised to do something and having done it, should any longer press this legislation in 1927 upon the attention of this House in the closing days of the session, for I know hon. gentlemen opposite are quite as desirous as I am of maintaining law and order in Canada, and are quite as desirous as I am of maintaining our institutions and our form of government, quite as desirous as anyone on this side of the House that there should be orderly and regulated conduct of the business of this country. Then why remove from the Immigration Act this provision.
My friend from Winnipeg, I suppose, would say that the Criminal Code gives us ample opportunity to deal, with these men, but that is the very thing we do not want to use. The United States has found that out by experience, and she simply deports them, instead of exalting these people into heroes, with all the talk about freedom of speech and deporting people without giving them the opportunity of a trial by a jury of their countrymen. That is not the principle of

the law at all. Deportation is not punishment. The criminal law is in operation for the punishment of the offender, and for deterring others; it is to punish those who violate our laws. But deiportation is to send out of our country undesirable citizens, and when this House votes to repeal a section such as that, indirectly it says that it is satisfied that thiaJt class of person is not an undesirable person. To retain the section cannot do harm: it may do good. It cannot interfere with liberty, because it does not deal with British subjects, and since when did an alien have any right to protection in this country other than to be protected in his life and property, and be sent out of the country if he proved undesirable? How many people are sent out of the United States as undersirable? How many are sent out of Russia and other countries? Why should Canada repeal this section which enables us to deal with these people? That is a question I leave with the minister, and I cannot think for a single moment that he is serious in asking us to repeal a section such as this which gives us this protection-a protection that can be put into operation without recourse to the courts of law, with all the costs that go with criminal trials, and all the effort that is made to magnify into heroes these people who would destroy our institutions, and all the talk about the poor stranger and the foreigner within our gates. It is not that. This is merely the exercise of the high right of sovereignty with respect to the citizenship of Canada. It is merely saying that we as a people will keep without our borders undesirable persons who are promulgating these doctrines; that is all, and I do submit that the bill Should not pass.

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