« PreviousContinue »
1907, was the exclusion of certain classes including the mentally unfit and physically defective unless there was assurance of family support; those having specified diseases; paupers, and others likely to become a public charge. The terms were general rather than specific, and proved inadequate for the regulation of the numbers coming to the country. As a result of this there was enacted the Canadian Immigration Law of 1910. With as many as half a million people coming into the country each year, it was inevitable that some undesirables should be included; and even though a family guarantee for the permanent support of such persons was a condition of their entrance, a question as to the wisdom of receiving them must arise.
CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP DEFINED BY LAW OF 1910
One of the first provisions of the Law of 1910 determined Canadian citizenship as belonging to (1) a person born in Canada who has not become an alien. (2) A British subject who has Canadian domicile, and (3) a person naturalized under the laws of Canada who does not subsequently become an alien or has not lost Canadian domicile. A woman not landed in Canada may not participate in the Canadian citizenship of her husband; neither may a child not landed be a citizen by virtue of the citizenship of either father or mother. It requires three years for an alien to acquire domicile.
ACT OF 1910 DISCUSSED The law specified the prohibited classes in greater detail than the preceding law, but as these were still further extended by the law of 1919, it is not necessary to enumerate them here. The Act of 1910 provided machinery for carrying out and, if occasion should arise, for interpreting the provisions of the law. This consists of a Superintendent and Commissioners of Immigration and requisite offices within and without Canada together with all necessary subordinate officers. In addition to this, provision was made for the creation of permanent boards of enquiry at any port of entry for the summary determination of all moot points in regard to immigrants. From the decisions of these boards, there could be no appeal."
Other important provisions deal with transportation, and prescribe penalties for violation of the law. Moral conditions in steerage are dealt with at length in an effort to safe-guard female passengers. While no special investigations had been made on ships carrying steerage passengers to Canadian ports, enough was known of conditions on ships entering United States ports from the reports of the Immigration Commission for the year 1908, to warrant Canada in taking steps to prevent similar abuses. Many immigrants destined to Canada arrive at American ports, therefore the conditions on ships entering such ports are as important to Canada as on those coming to her own ports. An added reason why the laws of the two countries in such respects should be similar is that persons bound for the United States are often booked via Canada. Both countries are equally interested in any conditions affecting passengers.
LAW OF 1919 FOLLOWS CLOSELY UNITED STATES
LAW OF 1917 After a few year's experience with the law of 1910, this, too, was found inadequate, and a new one embodying many improvements was enacted. This is known as the Canadian Immigration Law of 1919. In many respects, it follows quite closely the United States Law of 1917. Similar problems call for similar solutions, and it is a cause for international gratification that Canada should have the wisdom to profit not only by her own experience with earlier laws, but also by the wider experience of her neighbor. The Canadian law is in some aspects thought to be superior chiefly because of its greater elasticity, due to the regulating power of Orders in Council. The Governor-in-Council has power in certain instances to open the gates or to close them. This obviates
* Smith, A study in Canadian Immigration, page 97-99.
the necessity for endless discussion about interpretation, and will be discussed later.
Since the question of first interest is always in regard to the personnel of immigrants, the provisions of a new law dealing with excluded classes generate widest discussion, and are, in fact, the only ones in which the general public gives evidence of much concern. The excluded classes are enumerated in section three of the Act of 1919, and are as follows: (1) Idiots, imbeciles, the feeble-minded, epileptics, insane
persons and any who have been insane within five
years before arrival,—whether settlers or in transit; (2) Persons affected with any loathsome, contagious or
infectious disease unless of such a nature that it will yield readily to treatment in hospital or on
board ship; (3) Physical defectives, unless it can be satisfactorily
proved that they will not become a public charge; (4) Persons convicted of any crime involving moral
turpitude; (5) Prostitutes and women seeking entrance for any other
immoral purpose, and persons living on the avails
of prostitution; (6) Procurers for prostitution or other immoral purposes; (7) Professional beggars or vagrants; (8) Persons assisted by charitable organizations unless
presenting specific written permission from the
authoritative Canadian officer; (9) Persons who do not comply with the conditions of
entrance, such as possessing the requisite amount
of money, traveling by continuous journey, etc.; (10) Persons likely to become a public charge; (11) Persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority; (12) Persons with chronic alcoholism.
In addition to the foregoing, provision is made for the deportation of any person, who, upon medical examination, is found either physically or mentally unfit to earn a living. This clause is far-reaching in its effect, and is designed to cover exceptional cases not otherwise specified. Weaklings are not useful pioneers in the New World, and Canada does not want them.
SELF LIMITING PROVISIONS DUE TO WORLD WAR
Following the above, are a number of clauses arising mainly from conditions due to the war. Several of these are concerned with the exclusion of persons advocating the overthrow by violence or force of the government of Canada or of constituted law or authority, or organized government in general, as well as those advocating unlawful destruction of property. Persons affiliated with organizations entertaining such beliefs are also debarred from entering. Four clauses are devoted to enemy aliens, persons guilty of espionage with respect to His Majesty or any of His Majesty's allies, and persons guilty of treason. All these were excluded from Canada, but the prohibition against such persons was operable for a period of only ten years from August the first, 1914.
The final cause for exclusion is illiteracy and the specifying clause reads as follows: “Persons over fifteen years of age, physically capable of reading, who cannot read the English or French a language, or some other language or dialect: Provided that any admissible person or any person heretofore or hereafter legally admitted, or any citizen of Canada, may bring in or send for his father or grandfather, over fifty-five years of age, his wife, his mother, his grandmother, or his unmarried or widowed daughter, if otherwise admissible, whether such relative can read or not and such relative shall be permitted to enter."
It is not the intent of the law to work hardship upon any immediate family connections of those already admitted to
· For historic reasons Canada employs a bilingual system.
citizenship; it is to provide for literate settlers; and in its operation actually excludes only members of those races considered undesirable. This follows quite closely the United States literacy test, and was in fact modeled upon it, but its adoption was not accompanied by so much acrid discussion. Many hoped that the test would be made reading and writing as it is in Australia, but in its final form writing was omitted and a subsequent rule makes the test the reading of between thirty and forty words.
LITERACY TEST MAY BE HELD IN ABEYANCE
The effect of the law is partially nullified by the power conferred upon the Minister of Immigration to issue a written permit authorizing any person to enter Canada without being subject to the provisions of the Act. The literacy test could thus be held in abeyance. Most of the objections to a literacy test are sentimental, and hardly entitled to consideration. The fact that illiterate persons have in the past prospered in the New World is not sufficient ground for inviting other illiterates to enter now. Opportunities to obtain the rudiments of an education are becoming more general in all countries, and failure to embrace these in at least a limited degree seems to indicate a lack of perseverance without which an individual is poorly equipped to meet the changed conditions of a new country.
UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES, DEPORTATION MAY OCCUR WITHIN THREE YEARS
AFTER ARRIVAL While immigrants failing to meet certain requirements are prevented from entering Canada, others who have entered are watched over sedulously lest they fall into any of the excluded classes. If this should happen within three years after arrival, such persons are subject to deportation. And, moreover, entire families as well as the individuals involved
* Known as the Dictation Test.