Mr. Angus Maclnnis (Vancouver-Kingsway):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to take advantage of this debate to say a few words on a particular phase of immigration matters that I have taken up with both the present minister and his predecessor. I am not going to go into the question of general policy now, but will deal with the policy of the department respecting certain people found more generally, I think, in the province of British Columbia.
The hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Philpott) referred to the East Indian residents of British Columbia, and I can save time by saying that I agree with what he said and support him fully in the points he raised. I wish to take up the case of other persons of Asian origin in Canada, the Chinese. It is just possible the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Philpott) may have touched on this, too; I went out of the chamber while he was speaking, and I do not know.
I am sure the minister will know, even although he did not hold his present office at the time, that the Chinese benevolent association of British Columbia presented a brief concerning immigration laws and the citizenship act to his predecessor, the present Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris). I must say that I am in complete agreement with the association when they say they want to be put on the same basis as other residents in Canada in regard to immigration. I do not believe that is too much to ask.
I see the minister is paying attention, and he will find on page 3 of this brief-I am sure he has a copy of it on file-a request for modifications. Under that heading they say this:
As you know, the Chinese benevolent association has, on behalf of its members, long pressed and
still presses most strongly for the repeal of the discriminatory order in council P.C. 2115 and of the footnote thereto, and for the repeal of P.C. 2826 which replaces former orders in council P.C. 2743 and P.C. 4849. If, however, the total repeal of the aforementioned provisions of the immigration regulations is at this time impossible, we would petition for at least the following modifications to the immigration regulations.
I am not going to take up the time of the house by reading the modifications particularly requested. I do insist, however, that we should not have in this country two classes of citizens or even two classes of residents. What we do for a resident, let us say of Swedish nationality who is not a citizen, we should do for a resident of Chinese nationality, Japanese nationality, or East Indian nationality who is not a citizen. I feel the house will agree with me when I say that is not too much to ask.
Now I shall read the last request made by the Chinese benevolent association. I am going to say a few words about that, and then I shall conclude my remarks. This is clause (g) of the modifications the Chinese benevolent association would like to have made:
That in special cases or merit where circumstances of hardship exist, close relatives of Chinese Canadians such as parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and stepchildren, and children not otherwise admissible because of their age, be allowed to immigrate to Canada at the discretion of the minister of citizenship and immigration.
The particular persons to whom I am going to refer do not fall within any of the particular relationships mentioned. During last winter it was brought to my attention by a person of Chinese nationality resident in Vancouver since 1910 that for a number of years he had been supporting two grandchildren in China. I believe the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Campney) has full knowledge of this case as well, because I discussed it with him. He told me he knew this gentleman, who is a merchant in Vancouver.
This man emigrated to Canada in 1910. He went back to China twice, once in 1917 and once in 1925. On one of these occasions he was married and lived in China for some time. His wife lived in China until about a year ago. She stayed there from 1949 until 1954 solely in order to look after these two grandchildren. I believe it was the father of the children who had deserted the family. I took this matter up with the present Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Pickersgill) and he informed me, I think quite correctly, that under the regulations as they now exist there was nothing he could do. I am in the very happy position that in any cases I brought before either minister I received a most courteous hearing and possibly the most assistance they could give under the regulations.
I believe that a certain discretionary power should be given the minister to deal with cases such as I have mentioned, when he thinks the weight of evidence presented to him indicates that certain persons should be allowed to enter the country. I quite appreciate that this is a great deal of power to put in the hands of a minister, but I am sure no minister of immigration would misuse a power of that kind. He is far more likely to be strict in the other direction. I would hope that the government might give some thought to this matter, because I think it is a very worthy point.
They should give some particular thought to the removal of the discrimination that now exists in connection with immigration matters pertaining to persons of Asiatic origin in view of world conditions at the moment, and particularly in Asia. We should be very careful that we do not discriminate or do anything that would indicate to the people of Asia that we consider them of any less importance than or in any way inferior to the citizens who may come to us from any other country.