Ralph Bronson COWAN

COWAN, Ralph Bronson, B.A., B.J.

Personal Data

York--Humber (Ontario)
Birth Date
May 6, 1902
Deceased Date
April 21, 1990
journalist, manager

Parliamentary Career

June 18, 1962 - February 6, 1963
  York--Humber (Ontario)
April 8, 1963 - September 8, 1965
  York--Humber (Ontario)
November 8, 1965 - April 23, 1968
  York--Humber (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 175)

March 25, 1968

Mr. Cowan:

I spoke to the Chair earlier and stated I wished to speak on the subject of immigration. I had no comment to make on

the manpower estimates but I have some comments to make on the item before us, 15c.

Those who are interested in the operation of this department know that drastic changes have been made with regard to the treatment of immigrants and would-be immigrants coming into this country. At the present time I am wrapped up in the interests of three men from Greece who are anxious to settle in Canada. Two of them are in the riding of York-Humber at this time. The third returned voluntarily to Greece where he is endeavouring to get back to Canada with landed immigrant status. I must say that this shepherd boy is receiving fine co-operation from the Canadian immigration officers in Athens.

At the moment I am more interested in the two would-be immigrants now living in York-Humber. I have advised the minister more than once that I was anxious to see these supplementary estimates called so that we might discuss a few of the features of the Immigration Act. I have coming up on April 3 a hearing before a special immigration officer in Toronto regarding one would-be Greek immigrant, and on April 9 I have an appearance before the immigration appeal board in Ottawa regarding the second. There are circumstances arising in connection with these cases which I believe apply to the entire immigration department and which need to be straightened out in a hurry.

I am sorry I have not had the opportunity this year of attending the sittings of the special joint committee of the Senate and House of Commons on immigration. I did attend them at some length a year ago and two years ago. Although not a member of the committee I exercised my right as a member of parliament to attend. I believe some fine changes were made in the administration of the act after suggestions put forward by the hon. member for Essex West, the hon. member for Hamilton West and myself. But there are still some snags in the administration of the act which need to be straightened out and I trust hon. members will bear with me while I elucidate.

One of these Greek immigrants came to Canada on a visitor's visa. Everything was in order. His relatives in this country are well able to look after him until he is well established. Of course, there is a ukase to the effect that he cannot accept employment, but he is not protesting against that at all. I shall take first of all the case of a 39 year old would-be immigrant whose people have done so well in this land that they are now living the lives of a retired lady and gentleman,

March 25, 1968

owning considerable property in the borough of York and the city of Toronto.

This man applied for landed immigrant status. What I protest against is the fact that when he was given a hearing by the immigration department no friends were asked to be with him. Then somebody shows up and gives him a written note assessing the kind of immigrant he is likely to be and the kind of man he is likely to be. According to the details set out in the regulations and according to the forms supplied by the Department of Manpower and Immigration, immigrants can sometimes qualify with 35 points, sometimes have to have 40 points and at other times 50 points.

[DOT] (4:10 p.m.)

What I have objected to and objected strenuously, and I do so again now, is the fact that when this man is given his rating and is not given enough points to qualify for landed immigrant status, there is nobody there to advise him and help him. It is almost an examination. In fact it is an examination that he is being given, but he does not realize that he is being given an examination. Then in due course he gets a letter through the mail telling him he has been assigned a certain number of points and that he has not made enough points to qualify for landed immigrant status.

When the would-be landed immigrant receives that notice, having had this first examination against which I protest because it is done in the dark and behind closed doors without any advice being available to the would-be immigrant, he has to leave the country. I hate to use the word deportation. I do not think it should be used by the Department of Immigration. When it tells a man he has to leave the country it does not have to tell him he is being deported, but this is what it does. He has to show up at the deportation office on a certain date and he is deported. When boys in the army overstay their leave they are not called deserters the very next day. They are described as absent without leave. Why don't you call the boys who overstay their leave in the army deserters just as you call these would-be immigrants to Canada deportees the moment someone says they do not have enough marks to qualify to remain in the country?

In the case of this 39-year old Greek, the gentleman with whom I am going to appear before a special inquiry officer on April 3, it does not take a lot of mathematics to subtract 39 from 1968 and find out that he was born in 1929. He came into this country in the month of July or August of last year to visit


Supply-Manpower and Immigration relatives, an aunt, an uncle and cousins. After he had been here a while he thought he would like to remain in the country and he made a formal application to the immigration department to remain. Unknown to his friends, and I call myself a friend of the family, he was given an examination in some office and later he was advised he had not secured enough marks to stay in the country.

In fact this 39-year old man got 24 marks on an examination that requires him to get 50 marks, and he was told that because he got only 24 points he could not stay. He got a letter from the department that I may yet read to the committee. He was told to get out of the country, that he was not wanted and had not got enough marks. He came to see me with his relations who are Canadian citizens well able to look after him. they asked me, "What goes now"? I said, "The only thing we can do now is fight a delaying action. The first thing to do is to enter an appeal to remain in the country."

We entered an appeal to remain in the country and we went before what is known as a special inquiry officer. They use the initials "S.I.O." in the immigration department to cover them. So we go before the special inquiry officer to argue that this gentleman, this 39-year old Greek, a fine looking man, should be allowed to remain in this country. He can be as big a success here as his uncle, aunt and cousins. The special inquiry officer goes through the usual bland questions and he comes to the point that under education and training, where a would-be immigrant can be given a total of up to 20 assigned points, this chap has been given a total of 4. He is 39 years old and under the immigration examination he can be given 20 points under section 1, education and training, one unit to be awarded for each successful year of education or occupational training. This chap was given 4 points by the first officer who examined him.

When the special inquiry officer who, you might say, was hearing the case again-I am not using the word "rehearing"-came to item No. 1 where this chap had been given only four points by a man I have never seen or met, I raised objection and pointed out that this fellow had been given four points on the basis of one point for each year of formal education that he could prove he had in his homeland. This man was born in Greece in 1929 and his people sent him to school when he was about seven years of age, about 1936. The young lad started school in 1936. He was going to school regularly and he was liking

March 25, 1968


Supply-Manpower and Immigration school. But in 1939 his school teacher was drafted into the Greek army because there was some fear of an invasion from the other side of the Adriatic. The young lad did not have a school teacher although he had a schoolhouse. All school teachers were drafted and his education stopped after three and a half years. We will call it four years because he was given four marks.

As there was no school teacher he worked around the farm with his father and the other members of the family. Very shortly, in came the Italians from the west and they burnt the village, they burnt the schoolhouse, and they burnt the boy's home. I asked him where he went when the Italians arrived. I am speaking of the war of 1939 to 1945. He said that his mother and dad took him up into the hills.

After a year or so in the hills they returned to their burned-out village. The lad remembers them rebuilding the place. They put up what you or I would call a ramshackle building because things were uncertain in Greece between 1939 and 1945. There were still no school teachers. They were in the Greek army, if they were still living. Then the partisans came up from the Aegean sea and internal war raged. They burnt the village again, they burnt the boy's home, and again his mother and father took him to the hills. At the meeting with the special inquiry officer I asked this lad, "What did you live in? Tents?" Through the interpreter he said "Tents? We lived in the hills. There were no tents. The army had the tents."

I give you this example of how this lad survived two invasions of his home town. He had no schoolhouse and no school teacher. When he comes to Canada in 1967 the immigration department wants to know why he quit school so early. I told the special inquiry officer that the fact this man had lived through two invasions was proof he was entitled to every mark in the book because he could survive under drastic conditions. How simpler it will be for him to live in Canada and establish his family in Canada when you consider the conditions under which he lived in Greece.

What is going on in the immigration department? I know of an Irish boy who was brought out to Canada in 1939 because there was a likelihood of bombers coming over from Germany to Ireland. This young lad came to Canada and went to school in Canada, but the Greek boy had to stay in Greece. He did not have the money. His schoolhouse was burnt down, his school teacher was in

the Greek army, and his own house was burnt down.

What was the Irish boy doing at that time? He was getting the best education we could give him in all of Canada. He was going to school regularly. No German bombers landed in Ireland or bombed the village from which he came and, lo and behold, in time we gave him a seat in the Senate and he is a great success. He came over the ocean because there was a war in Europe. But when this Greek boy survives the Italian invasion and the war of the partisans we tell him, "You cannot stay because you do not have enough education. You have only four points and you could have 20." Why do we treat with kid gloves the Irish boy who came here in 1939 and remained far from the field of conflict, and then tell this Greek to go back and see how he makes out if the Turks come in should the Canadian army unit be withdrawn from Cyprus?

I have appealed before on behalf of that shepherd boy being allowed to remain in Canada. The immigration department went to the tremendous length of speaking to the Secretary of State for External Affairs last June, and the Secretary of State for External Affairs advised the immigration department that there was now a stable government in Greece. That was terrific. I have a letter here from the immigration department telling me that the Secretary of State for External Affairs says that conditions are fine in Greece, that they are very stable now following the revolution of a year ago. It will be a year ago in April.

But what do we have now in Greece? I have in my hand the Globe and Mail of last Wednesday, March 20. There is a report of a statement made in the House of Commons under the heading "Cyprus Force Likely To Stay, Martin Says". The report reads as follows:

[DOT] (4:20 p.m.)

The three-month extension to June 26 of the United Nations peacekeeping mandate on Cyprus probably will not be the last, External Affairs Minister Paul Martin indicated in the Commons yesterday.

Andrew Brewin (N.D.P., Greenwood) had asked whether, in view of the improved atmosphere on the Mediterranean island, Mr. Martin could say the recent extension would be the last.

Mr. Martin replied that there had been "some improvement" but not such that this would be the last renewal of the mandate.

About 900 Canadians are in the 4,500-man UN Cyprus force.

Now we have Mr. Martin's factual up to the minute statement on conditions in Cyprus. Do not forget that the Turks and the Greeks

March 25. 1968 COMMONS

are facing each other there over a line of demarcation. The immigration department was putting pressure on this shepherd boy. His family thought that if he returned to Greece they could get him back here again more easily than if he stayed and fought with the officials and the appeal board. His Greek relatives in Canada raised the money and it cost them $424 to return the boy. I know their situation. They have a small restaurant.

Last Tuesday morning on the C.B.C. program "Preview Commentary" there was a ten minute commentary by Peter Mellors. We all know that since it was on the C.B.C. it must be true and factual. Mr. Peter Mellors was introduced as a resident of one of the islands of Greece. He gave a very factual rundown of the conditions there. I was interested in this rundown because I was waiting for an opportunity to speak about these two Greeks who wish to remain in Canada.

I wish to thank the C.B.C. for the very prompt co-operation I received in this regard. They gave me the transcript on Friday and I had asked for it on Tuesday morning. Some of you may have been waiting for Max Ferguson and may have missed Peter Mellors. He said:

Nobody outside of Greece can have any idea of the unending flood of propaganda the Greeks have had drummed into them since dawn last April 21st. And in every other socially and economically backward, I should say developed, country the radio is the most powerful means of thought control. It gets right into the homes spreading its insidious message as the children are being got ready for school, as the housewife does her chores, as the husband has the mid-day dinner and as the family gathers in the evening. They might not agree with this, they don't even have to listen to it, but the poison does its work all the same.

The Greek radio has never been anything but the mouthpiece of the party in power.

That is quite different from Canada, you know.

So the colonels are really only following the principles of the despised politicians in offering every hour on the hour an orgy of self-congratulation. The Prime Minister, Mr. Papadopulos, has been inundated with telegrams from the length and breadth of the land praising him for his surprising leniency in extending the recent amnesty to all the regime's political prisoners. Surprising indeed, that the amnesty had extended to about 10 per cent of such prisoners, but that is the sort of details the radio doesn't bother to report. Th same selectivity is used about the U.S. and other nations of the free world. American space achievements are the wonder of the universe, while the Russian efforts in that direction are dismissed with hardly a mention. As for Vietnam, that war has been won by our gallant American allies over and over.

In the grand old democratic days, Greeks could compare what the radio told them with what was in the newspapers. That would be a pointless exer-


Supply-Manpower and Immigration cise now. The newspapers outdo the radio and even vie with each other in piling praise on Mr. Papadopulos and his highminded, patriotic, incorruptible and, of course, tremendously efficient cabinet colleagues. Report control in Greece doesn't end with the radio and the press. Special stamps were issued celebrating the April 21st revolution, stamps were cancelled with slogans extolling the virtues of the national government, as the colonels call themselves.

On the island where I live a big poster has appeared showing a labyrinth, sign-postered with those smears of a democratic society that Greeks were saved from by the national government. Anarchy, corruption, communism, of course, and something called red fascism. Most of the shopkeepers have put the posters up so that it hits you when you walk through the door. One or two,

I have noticed, have tucked it away almost out of sight. It's little things like this that tell you what the Greeks think of their government.

In fact, in spite of all the propaganda, not to mention a few good things the colonels have managed to do, the majority of Greeks seem to be thinking less and less of their rulers. What happens is that people have begun to compare the colonels' promises with their performance and no amount of propaganda can hide the fact that things are getting not better but worse, especially economically.

But what can anybody do? The slightest whisper of discontent lands you in jail. The politicians have been cowed, the army purged, the King kicked out of the country. The colonels meanwhile continue on their merry way buoyed up, one can only assume, by their own propaganda.

That report was broadcast on the C.B.C. network as recently as last Tuesday morning. This gentleman whose comments I accept as being factual, and who spoke on the C.B.C. over a broad network, said that things in Greece are getting not better but worse, especially economically. There was a revolution in Greece in April of last year.

I should like now to refer to the revolution in Cuba of six years ago. You may have read about the 24-year old Cuban girl who was in Vancouver taking part in a gymnastic competition. One might say that she jumped ship. When it was time to return to her country she could not be found. The Cuban people on the team could not find her and returned to their country. The girl showed up a couple of days later in Vancouver. Shortly after I asked the Minister of Manpower and Immigration in the House what action the department intended taking with regard to this Cuban girl whom I have never met and know nothing about. He informed me that he did not have the details but would advise me further the next day. The next day he showed me a detailed statement he had received from the deputy minister of manpower and immigration in which the facts were given about the

March 25, 1968


Supply-Manpower and Immigration girl who had disappeared and was found again in Vancouver.

This girl was applying for political asylum against the Castro revolution of six or seven years ago. She was 24 years old. Since then the Minister of Manpower and Immigration has been his usual gracious self and has inquired into this matter in detail. He told me that he felt inclined to give the girl political asylum from the revolution in Cuba. I told him I thought that was the proper stand to take and congratulated him on it. He told me that in a few days some formal action would be taken. On Friday last the Minister of Manpower and Immigration advised me that a special order in council was going to be passed by the cabinet to grant this Cuban girl in Vancouver political asylum. I congratulated him and told him that he could not pass the special order in council too soon to please me. This situation pertains to a revolution of six years ago in Cuba. I am speaking of a revolution which took place as recently as last April.

That Greek who last summer did not want to return to Greece because of the revolution was told that everything was stable in Greece. I pointed out that things were stable in Paris between 1941 and 1944 under the heel of Hitler. There is no reason that we should play favourites with a Cuban girl with regard to a revolution six or seven years ago and give different treatment in respect of a revolution only 11 months old.

[DOT] (4:30 p.m.)

These Greek men do not want to return to Greece because war could break out there at any time, particularly in view of the situation in Cyprus. We have the assurance given to the Social Credit members some years ago, and I was in the house at the time, that if fighting breaks out in Cyprus the Canadian troops will be withdrawn immediately. We keep the peace as long as there is peace but when it is likely there will be a war we withdraw our peacekeeping troops, as shown by the Suez situation. The same thing will happen in Cyprus because the Social Credit members have the assurance that if fighting breaks out in Cyprus between the Greeks and the Turks the Canadian troops will be withdrawn right smartly.

Why should we send these Greeks back to Greece at this time when they might become involved in a war? They want to escape that possibility. This 39-year old man is married and has three children he wants to bring out to this country where his relatives can quite

ably look after them. He has been told that although he may have survived the Italian campaign and the partisan campaign, he is not too smart and has only received four points for education. What does it matter that his school teacher was drafted? What does it matter that the schoolhouse was burned down? What does it matter to us that he was only 16 years old when the war was over? That is apparently of no interest to the immigration department because he has only four points for education.

In my riding of York-Humber there is a man who asked for landed immigrant status, having come here from Australia. The immigration people in Toronto went over him with a fine-tooth comb. I do not know what marks they gave him but he did receive a letter telling him that he had to get out of the country, that he was going to be deported. They again used this word "deported" which means to me Botany bay for the English and Devil's island for the French. We are still using this word "deported".

This young chap is 23. Individuals of this type never come to me until they receive these deportation letters. That is the first I ever heard from him. This young lad asked me for assistance so he could remain in Canada. I asked him why he had waited until the stable door was shut-it is not locked but it is certainly shut-before he came. I said that I would see what I could do and I made inquiries about this 23-year-old lad from Australia. I found out that he apparently lived until age 16 in a central European country. When he was 16 his father decided there were better prospects for himself and his boy in Australia. They moved to Australia seven years ago. The father took up hairdressing down there and this boy learned the trade along with him and became very proficient at it. This young man today lives within 300 yards of my home.

This young man asked me if I could assist him to remain in Canada. I asked this proficient hairdresser whether he had told the immigration department that he was an Australian citizen. I asked him if he was actually an Australian citizen. He said that the moment his five years were up he took out Australian citizenship. I asked him whether he had told the immigration department of this fact. He said he did not know whether he had done so. He said that he had come from Sydney and that they should know he was Australian. He said he did not know whether he had mentioned his Australian citizenship. I

March 25, 1968

asked him to let me see his certificate. We went up to the place where he was rooming and he went into the bedroom and produced his certificate. It is really something. It has the Union Jack on it in red, white and blue, the Queen's picture, Australian leaves and everything else. This grants him Australian citizenship. He is an Australian citizen sworn before the deputy mayor of Sydney, Australia.

At this point I said to him that as far as I was aware we had not started deporting Australians yet and I told him I would go to see the immigration people the next morning. I went to the immigration department in Toronto and told them the facts of the matter as I have related them to you. I asked how many Australians we had deported in recent years. They could not recall deporting any Australians recently but they got on the phone and to my surprise-

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March 25, 1968

Mr. Cowan:

Mr. Chairman, we are engaged on a study of the supplementary estimates of the Department of Transport. I do not expect to be here tomorrow and I am not sure whether we will reach vote 75c tonight. Therefore I should like to ask some questions on that vote, which deals with a payment to the National Harbours Board to be applied in payment of the deficit expected to be incurred in the calendar year 1967 in the operation of the Jacques Cartier bridge, Montreal harbour. Tomorrow night I am speaking in Toronto on the subject of civic financing, when I shall be comparing the civic financing of Toronto and the civic financing of Montreal.

I have in my hand the report of the Auditor General to the House of Commons for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1967. At page 178 you will find this paragraph-

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March 25, 1968

Mr. Cowan:

Mr. Chairman, I regret that I do not have before me at the moment a letter from the Minister of National Health and Welfare, but as you can see from vote 25c we are asked to authorize payment in the current and subsequent fiscal years of a pension to Mrs. Vera Middleton Ryder in an amount

March 25, 19S8

equal to the amount that would be payable in that year under schedule B to the Pension Act if she were the widow of a lieutenant colonel and entitled to payment of a pension in that year at the rate set out in schedule B to the act, namely, in the amount of $665. Before I make some detailed comments on this matter I should like to ask the Solicitor General who Mrs. Vera Middleton Ryder is and what rank her husband held at the time of his death, since we are asked to assume that she is the widow of a Lieutenant Colonel, which evidently he was not when he passed away. Would the Solicitor General give us some facts in this matter? I have some comments I wish to make, comments that are sincere.

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March 25, 1968

Mr. Cowan:

In answer to the hon. member for Springfield may I say that in the five years I have been talking about the patented water lots and casting aspersions on their title no one has as yet dared to proceed with commercial development on them. I will not live forever, although I presume I might be reelected. However, the Minister of Transport, being a young man and a healthy specimen I would hope will survive me and would do something about this. He is engaged in a scrap right now. If he does not come out the winner, at least the others will know they have been in a fight.

While I am on my feet there is another matter which may not exactly come under the heading of vote 5c. It is, however, a matter which I should like to bring to the attention

March 25, 1968

of the minister. I have in my hand a letter from the Bell Telephone Company of Canada written and signed by a vice president. During the last several months, each month I have been receiving a bill from the Bell Telephone Company of Canada which has been quite amusing to me. It is the only type of bill-I have received five-I have ever received that shows me owing zero.

I was interested when I received a bill from the Bell Telephone Company with five cents postage on it stating that I owed nothing. It came from Montreal. The following month I got a bill showing I owed nothing and there was postage on the envelope. Then I had a third, a fourth and a fifth. The fourth one came with a four cent stamp and I have referred the matter to the Postmaster General. He is looking into it. I wrote to the Bell Telephone Company asking why they send invoices to people who do not owe anything. When I was in active business we saved our money by not sending out bills to people who did not owe us anything. I have a letter here signed by a vice president. The minister will be interested in this paragraph:

When this machine method of government irregular billing was arranged with the Administrative Telecommunications Agency of the Department of Transport it was mutually agreed that "nil" accounts would be rendered to inform members monthly that no long distance calls were made and that there was no balance outstanding.

I should like to ask the minister whether the administrative telecommunications agency of the Department of Transport has such a low opinion of the mental processes of the members of parliament that it feels they must be notified each month that they do not owe an account, so that they will be able to discover that they do not owe an account.

[DOT] (9:00 p.m.)

Of all the things I have read, this is certainly one of the most entertaining I have seen for a long time. It states:

-it was mutually agreed that "nil" accounts would be rendered to inform members monthly that no long distance calls were made and that there was no balance outstanding.

I don't know why the Chateau Champlain in Montreal, the Nova Scotian hotel in Halifax or the Fort Garry hotel in Winnipeg do not write me monthly to tell me that I do not owe them anything. There are certainly enough people who write when one does owe something. In any event the Department of Transport has asked the Bell Telephone Company to send out an account each month to 265 members of parliament to inform them that no 27053-506*


long distance calls were made and that there is no account outstanding. This seems to me to border on the ridiculous. Surely this can be corrected.

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March 25, 1968

Mr. Cowan:

Yes. Mr. Chairman.

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