May 30, 1930 (16th Parliament, 4th Session)


Michael Luchkovich

United Farmers of Alberta


I rise to protest
against our newcomers being made the goat of all our social and industrial discontent. Only recently the remark was made by Bishop Lloyd about our newcomers that they had criminal proclivities. I have searched in the report of the superintendent of penitentiaries for the year ending March 31, 1929, and I find that there were 2,769 prisoners incarcerated in our penitentiaries during the year 1929, and that their birthplaces were as follows:
Canada 1,747
Great Britain 326
Other British possessions.... 36
United States 223
Russia 75
Italy [DOT] 66
Austria-Hungary 78
China 62
Roumania 16
Other countries 140
These statistics prove that only 12 per cent of our newcomers are to be found among the prisoners in our Dominion penitentiaries. It is not my intention to take up much of the time of the house, but I wish to deal with certain discriminatory statements which have been made against our newcomers. I have in my hand a letter which I received from a young Red Cross nurse in which she refers to a news item that I shall quote later. She writes as follows:
Article enclosed was published in the News of the \Vorld about one month ago. I think a paper of such wide circulation should offer a printed apology for such uncalled for _ and ignorant remarks, which concern the Ukrainian people in the Vegreville district.
I am taking the privilege of writing you a few lines regarding this matter, as you are in a position to make them offer that apology on their front page. _
According to newspaper reports, it is the British settlers that are making all the trouble.
Trusting you will give this important matter your kind and prompt attention, and do all you can to expose these brutal traducers of an honest hard-working and law-abiding people, I remain,
Yours very truly,
(Sgd) E. Yasenchuk, Victorian Order of Nurses of Canada.

The article which this young lady enclosed reads as follows:
Canada's New Problem Alien Menace in the Golden West Bad Old Days of the Gold Rushes Revived ("News of the World" Special) Canadian wheat farmers on the rich corn lands of Alberta and Saskatchewan are seriously perturbed by the continued drought which threatens their harvest, and which may spell ruin to a number of settlers who have laboured hard and sunk their capital in creating farms on the wide Western prairies. Only in scattered districts where there may have been local showers will there be any wheat crop worth harvesting. To add to the troubles of British settlers a number of Russians, Galicians, and other migrants from eastern Europe have recently swarmed over the western portions of Canada. They have been encouraged by the Dominion authorities, who, it is alleged, have not exercised due care in their selection, with the result that many districts are becoming unfit for decent Britishers to reside in. Complaint is made that the authorities do not trouble to inquire into the character of these people, so long as they can prove that they have financial resources sufficient to take up holdings. There is a large settlement of these undesirables around the town of Vegreville, which was until recently a prosperous community of Englishspeaking yeomen, but which is rapidly degenerating into a hotbed of vice and lawlessness such as characterised the mining camps of other settlements during the hectic days of gold rushes some fifty years ago. Gambling hells, gin palaces, and dancing saloons have made Vegreville and other towns the haunt of every grade of alien rascal in search of "a good time and easy money." Cunning frauds by "real estate" tricksters have resulted in scores of settlers being cheated in the purchase of farms. Illicit stills remain unchecked, and commercial morality in these districts has almost reached vanishing point. Canadian police are too busy to bother much about such matters, as they are fully occupied in dealing with serious crimes of violence and outrage that have occurred since the influx from eastern Europe. Indeed, matters have reached a point when the police have been glad of the aid of a number of Canadian ex-service men. who settled in the area immediately after the war, and have recently banded together to put down the worst forms of violent crime and so afford mutual protection against the criminal propensities of these alien ruffians. Former members of that famous corps -the Alberta Dragoons-have recently tracked down one of the worst gangs of Galician horse thieves and treated them to that rough-and-ready justice which, it is hoped, will have convinced them of the error of their ways, as they fled in terror across the open country after being stripped and flogged by the angry troopers.

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