Editorial

Both parties say “No” to immigrants but it’s not the voice of Canada

August 31 1957
Editorial

Both parties say “No” to immigrants but it’s not the voice of Canada

August 31 1957

Both parties say “No” to immigrants but it’s not the voice of Canada

Editorial

When we changed prime ministers and cabinets last June, many Canadians hoped and expected that at the same time we were making some changes in our national attitudes. Our safe and guarded attitude toward immigration was among those that had been under close scrutiny by the last opposition and presumably might he modified by the new government.

But it now appears that the cautious, comfortable immigration policies of the Liberals are not only to he continued, but extended. The immigration department has virtually sealed off our borders. “Unsponsored” immigrants — that is, those most desperately in need of a place to live — are for the time being not welcome here. We have turned our hacks on the very people we idealized only a few months ago: the lost and stricken refugees of Hungary.

It’s quite probable that the Liberals, if they were still in power, would be following a similar course. The permanent officers of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration have not changed nor have the cold substantial facts on which their advice is properly based. Yet surely the time has come when facts and statistics are no longer quite enough on which to base an immigration policy.

At a crucial time in this century a troubled Englishman cried out in the British House of Commons: “Speak for England!” On the question of immigration we sometimes wonder whether any Canadian government of this generation has really dared to speak for Canada. To speak for the heart and the vision which we, of perhaps all people on this earth, can most easily afford. We never thought Jack Pickersgill was speaking for Canada when he turned away men of good record and repute because of the color of their skin. We doubt that Davie Fulton is truly speaking for Canada when he turns away the dispossessed of Hungary because they lack “sponsors.”

Within this century, Canada has become one of the world’s major economic forces, as well as a major political force. We can, if we wish, become something indescribably greater than either of these. We can become a moral force of the first dimension. We can show that good will and decency toward one’s neighbors, however naïve and out of fashion they may have come to seem, are still good fields for experiment. We can easily show that the experiment is not expensive. Wc might even show it to be profitable.

But profit and loss, whether we like it or not, arc not the only factors governing the rate at which wc may consent to allow people from less favored parts of the world to come and share our fortune. The inevitable and irresistible surge of the human race toward room to live and breathe cannot in the long run be contained by any nation or by any government. The sensible ones will, of course, try to exercise some measure of direction and control lest the natural and needed movement of people from overcrowded parts of the world to uncrowded parts become a self-defeating swarm or stampede.

But shifts of population — greater perhaps than most of us dream of or care to think about — are one of the simple conditions of livelihood on this cluttered, compli-

4a-well to accept this condition at once and acknowledge it before the world, not by decreasing its intake of immigrants but by stepping up the intake substantially.