Mr. DENIS (St. Denis) (Translation):
Mr. Chairman, the immigration question is to my mind the most important of all those which have been debated during the present
The hon. Minister of the Interior has given us a masterly outline of the policy which he proposes to follow in this respect. I must offer him my sincere congratulations and at the same time promise him my entire support. Our country, although in its infancjq has before it a most brilliant future. It has known days of prosperity as well as days ol depression. At present, it has a population of over 8,000,000. Its territory is very extensive. The natural resources are abundant, in fact inexhaustible. The soil is very fertile and large areas only await vigorous hands to yield crops sufficient to feed the whole of Europe. Although our industries are somewhat
at a standstill, owing to unstable trade conditions, they are gradually picking up as the market becomes firmer. Our labouring class reduced to unemployment through the shortage of work are experiencing a rather serious crisis; however we notice a change for the better in their conditions. Nevertheless, I think it would be a great mistake at present to believe and especially to state, even on the floor of the House that the labouring class are satisfied with their present conditions. I congratulate the government for closing the gates to all the labouring class of immigrants. Its duty at present, is to better the living conditions of the workman by supplying his family and himself with the means of existence; as long as the normal economic situation is not reestablished we must not open wide our doors but keep them well closed.
I consider, Mr. Chairman, that the first duty of a good government is to furnish to all citizens the means of existence, it would be an unnational and unpatriotic policy to bring in immigrants belonging to the labour class, when misery still reigns in many homes as a result of unemployment. What we want, at present, in this country, are settlers, real settlers, it matters little whether they be English, French, Belgian, Italian, Jew or Scotch, as long as they can be assimilated, are sound' of body and mind, are not bolshevists, anarchists, nor socialists, are thoughtful of the moral and religious conditions and obedient to the laws of our country.
For the last few years, Mr. Chairman, farming, if I am to believe the doleful stories of our hon. friends the Progressives, does not give the same returns as it did previous to the war. I am of the same opinion; however, although the Condition of the farmer is very precarious, I think there is some exaggeration. That the western farmer's plight is more serious than that of the eastern farmer, I am ready to acknowledge. The hon. Ministe" gave us the true solution when he said: If we wish colonization to progress in the west, we must avoid past mistakes and not sell to the new settler more land than he can cultivate. The hon. Minister considers that 160 acres of land constitute a large farm; it is, indeed, ample for a settler if he desires to farm it with good results. That there mav be other reasons than those I have just given, that contribute in making farming in the West a poor paying proposition, such for instance as the high price of labour, the high freight rates and lack of transportation facilities, I admit; but I think the keynote of success for a farmer is to make the most of every inch of ground at his disposal and that all his
efforts must be concentrated with that aim in view, bettering as much as possible his method of farming and adapting it to the conditions of his land so as to husband its power of production indefinitely.
I do not wish, Mr. Chairman, to detain any longer the attention of the hon. members of this House, however before closing my remarks I would ask the hon. Minister to use discretion in his choice of immigration agents. Each country has its particular ways and the agent must necessarily be familiar with these conditions. I doubt very much if an agent having only English at his command and unacquainted with the particular ways of the people would be a success in Belgium or in France. Every agent must be fitted for the position, if we wish that the money we are going to vote be profitable to the country.
In the past, Sir, the government made use of the agents of transportation companies. I think it was a great mistake, for these agents were more interested in increasing the number of passengers, so as to show large increases in their business, rather than bring into the country desirable settlers. What we are in need of are settlers capable of being assimilated, sound of body and mind, desirous of entering our country with a view to settling down and become part of the great Canadian family and contribute to its prosperity.
Topic: IMMIGRATION AND COLONIZATION