Volume #23 - 417.|
Extract from Minutes of Meeting
of Interdepartmental Advisory Committee on Immigration|
April 23rd, 1956|
Mr. Jules Léger, (Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs)
Mr. A.H. Brown, (Deputy Minister of Labour)
Dr. George Davidson, (Deputy Minister of Welfare)
Mr. A.F.W. Plumptre, (Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance)
Mr. S.J. Chagnon, (Assistant Deputy Minister of Agriculture)
Mr. V.J. Macklin, (Privy Council Office)
Mr. D.B. Dewar, (Privy Council Office) (Secretary)
Mr. T.P. Malone, (Department of External Affairs)
Dr. W.H. Frost, Dr. R.D. Thompson, (Department of National Health and Welfare)
Mr. S. Pollock, (Department of Finance)
1. The Chairman said that if the Committee agreed, he would report on his recent trip to Europe by referring briefly to each country visited.
2. In the United Kingdom the high level of economic activity was likely to give Canada more and more difficulty in recruiting immigrants. Employees seemed to be in a position to select their employers, and, in the same spirit, prospective emigrants tended to give long and serious thought to the question before deciding to migrate. There appeared to be two schools of thought in the U.K. regarding emigration; one school favoured emigration particularly to Commonwealth countries, including Canada, while the other was opposed to the loss of manpower, particularly skilled workers. Colonel Fortier said he was recommending an increase in the number of immigration offices in the U.K., and increase in their staff, and the moving of the Liverpool office to a more central location in Leeds or Manchester.
3. Good reports of Canada had created an atmosphere favourable to emigration from Belgium and Mr. Fortier's visit had been widely publicized and commented upon favourably in the Belgian press. Some overcrowding in the farming areas of Flanders favoured the movement to Canada of a good type of immigrant from that area.
4. Germany was in a boom period and did not want to lose skilled workers through emigration. Indeed, Canada was one of the few countries still recruiting freely in the German Republic, and there was a danger that restrictions might be imposed upon our work. Germany was not able, however, to absorb the large numbers of refugees from the East Zone, although she liked to see the refugee flow continuing. A good number of the refugees were farmers and Germany favoured their emigration to countries needing that class of worker. At the request of the German Government, the Canadian office was to be moved this year from Karlsruhe to the Bonn area. Canada was considering placing it in Cologne.
5. Italy had re-organized its emigration service and was developing a consistent policy on emigration. The Italians were pressing especially for movement of close relatives, and it was noted that the number of close-relative applications was quite high, 22,000 at the time of Colonel Fortier's visit.
6. The number of applicants from Greece was very high, and the flow to Canada from that country could be increased. The problem was that ICEM was pressing Canada to process their cases at the neglect of close-relative and open placement applicants, who were numerous. This Canada could hardly accept.
7. There was a high number of applications from Israel, but it was very difficult to process them for security and medical fitness. The situation there was always under study.
8. We cannot expect a large number of immigrants from the Scandinavian countries because economic conditions were good and governments objected to propaganda activities of immigration countries. This was particularly true of Sweden and Norway. The situation in Finland was more hopeful, however, and Denmark was a little freer in permitting meetings and film showings.
9. The emigration service of Portugal had been very impressive. There was a source in Portugal of engineers, draughtsmen and artisans, a good number of whom were trained in the English system of measurement.
10. Although it was doubtful that a satisfactory migration from Spain could be achieved at present, there probably were thirty to fifty thousand persons who were potential emigrants to Canada. There had been a large movement to South America, but many emigrants had returned home because the reception facilities were not satisfactory. Indeed Spain was considering joining ICEM in order to become associated with an organization that might arrange better reception facilities for her emigrants.
11. In France a surplus population in certain sections is forecast for 1960 and it may reach a total of 200,000 persons. The government is encouraging a dispersal of industry towards centres where the increasing population might be absorbed. It seemed that emigration might be a solution to the problem, especially if the North African colonies no longer provided an outlet within the French union. Colonel Fortier said he had met with an interdepartmental committee of the French Government which was concerned with immigration, and had discovered that it was divided in its views on emigration. The Ministry of Labour in particular was opposed to emigration, and had suggested that the Canadian Immigration Branch should clear the names of all prospective migrants with the French Labour Department. This, of course, was unacceptable. There had been strong French opposition, also, to the suggestion that Canadian officials might tour in North Africa to investigate the situation in view of the large number of enquiries about emigration to Canada arriving from North Africa at the Paris office. North Africans would be good immigrants with a pioneer instinct, but it was possible that the French, in order to keep North Africa French, would make every effort to prevent emigration.
12. Mr. Léger remarked that the situation in North Africa was fluid and in a matter of some months Tunisia and Morocco might be virtually independent states and might accept a Canadian application for a consulate.
13. Colonel Fortier said that another problem in France was that the Canadian office in Paris was too remote from districts of emigration. Since France was also a country of immigration, she could not permit Canadian immigration offices to be opened throughout the country. Possibly, however, consular offices could be opened at two or three places in France in which some of the medical, security and recruiting offices now in Paris could work.
14. Immigrants from the Netherlands now benefit from a subsidy provided by the Dutch Government, and could obtain additional financial help, through the Canadian assisted passages scheme. The Dutch Government dislikes the assisted passages scheme, because it leaves the emigrants with a debt to pay after arriving in Canada, and has been trying to get Canada to agree to accept an ICEM subsidy. This has been resisted because Canada has not wanted to extend the activities of ICEM. Accepting ICEM subsidies would mean that continental emigration would be subsidized, while Canada had refused the U.K. subsidy scheme. Dutch immigrants can move more cheaply to Australia, which accepts the ICEM subsidy scheme, than to Canada. It was unlikely that the pressure being exerted by the Netherlands for a subsidy would be relaxed in the coming months, because the Dutch government, which is committed to a scheme of subsidized passages, is facing an election this year. The Netherlands would also consider their bargaining position strong, because of its favourable economic position.
15. The government in Austria was concerned about the Canadian assisted passage loans scheme being available to Austrian skilled workers and their dependents, and presented the same argument heard in France, that applicants for assisted passage should be cleared through the Ministry of Labour. Colonel Fortier pointed out that such a restriction could possibly drive would-be emigrants from the Canadian Government to racketeer lenders. A satisfactory solution to the problem would probably be worked out. Canada had been obtaining a very bad press in Austria. The need for a good film on Canada and a better system of disseminating information on this country abroad was very great, both in U.K. and on the Continent.
16. Colonel Fortier expressed his thanks to the Department of External Affairs for the co-operation and help he had received from their officers abroad.
17. The Committee noted the report of the Chairman and agreed that the main problem for Canada seemed to be to sustain a fairly stable level of immigration year by year. When conditions in emigrating countries were favourable to migration and Canada was accepting large numbers of immigrants, the flow tended to increase sharply. A recession in Canada, however, created hardships for immigrants and a bad opinion of this country in nations of origin which ultimately depressed the flow. The real difficulty seemed to be that since the reputation of Canada as a country of immigration lagged behind actual conditions here, the peak periods of demand and supply for immigrants tended not to coincide. This difficulty was complicated by the fact that bad news about Canada receives greater publicity than good news. In addition the condition of the economies of emigrating countries had a substantial, but probably secondary influence on the potential flow.
II. CONTINUED PARTICIPATION IN ICEM
18. The Chairman invited the Committee to consider the question of continued participation in the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration. The question had been considered about a year ago, and the Committee had decided then that although the original purpose of ICEM had been fulfilled, the organization continued to provide some useful services to migrants. In addition, Canada's withdrawal might cause the organization to collapse, and other less desirable organizations might assume its functions. For these reasons, the Committee had recommended that Canada should remain in ICEM for a definite period, following which our position should be re-examined. The Cabinet had subsequently decided, however, that although Canada should retain membership until January 1, 1958, we should indicate to ICEM that we intended to withdraw then and that we thought the organization should come to an end. ICEM had not been informed officially of this intention, but the organization certainly was aware of it. The question now was whether any further action should be taken.
(IACI Document No. 32,? Draft Report of the Canadian Delegation to the Fourth Session of the Council of ICEM, dated March 1955, had been circulated.)
19. The Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs said that as long as we had the problem of finding enough immigrants, we would probably need the services of a good organization to help us. Was it not possible that if we withdrew from ICEM we would be in a worse position than we are now? It seemed likely that an announcement of our intention to withdraw would make us bad friends with some countries, particularly with the Netherlands who were such an important source of immigrants.
20. Colonel Fortier said that Canada had most of its difficulties in countries where ICEM was active. It was not in our interest, therefore, to let the organization grow more permanent by extending its services, if we were to withdraw in 1958. Some other countries, of course, found it difficult to understand the Canadian position, because they benefited from those increased services, which were largely paid for by the United States. The fact remained that ICEM was of little help to Canada. On the contrary, it was diverting some of our potential immigrants elsewhere, especially to Australia.
21. There were certain negative advantages to Canada in seeing the organization continue, but it would not be worthwhile unless the terms of reference were changed. The Italians had suggested that these terms of reference might be reviewed, if Canada was willing to reconsider its intention to withdraw. Colonel Fortier suggested that our best move, if we wanted the terms of reference changed, might be to announce now that we intended to withdraw at the beginning of 1957. Interested countries would certainly make strong representations for Canada to remain a member, and more acceptable terms of reference might possibly be obtained.
22. Mr. Léger commented that such a strategy might be effective, but we would have to be prepared to accept the consequences if it failed. We might be left with no organization at all, or with the prospect of a similar organization under the auspices of NATO or the United Nations.
23. The Assistant Deputy Minister of Agriculture said that his Department was interested in a steady flow of immigrants to build up the domestic market and to increase the farm labour force. He was concerned, therefore, whether ending ICEM would decrease the number of immigrants.
24. Colonel Fortier replied that it would not. Australia was now benefiting most from ICEM. The danger was that ICEM might make bad friends for Canada in countries of emigration, if this country thwarted the wishes of the organization. ICEM was, in fact, trying to make itself indispensable, and our difficulties with the Netherlands were at least in part due to this fact.
25. Mr. Pollock said the position of the Department of Finance was that there was no point in remaining in ICEM if we received no benefits from membership. The Committee had advanced certain arguments in favour of continued membership a year ago, and Cabinet had not accepted them. Unless there were further arguments to put forth, therefore, the Committee had no reason to approach Cabinet again and recommend continued membership. Indeed it appeared that Canada was going to be embarrassed by continuing pressures until our decision was made known. If this were the case, we should announce now that we intended to withdraw from ICEM as soon as possible.
26. Mr. Léger and Mr. Brown both doubted the wisdom of trying to leave ICEM even more quickly than Cabinet had suggested.
27. Mr. Pollock said that rumours of our impending withdrawal had already started a campaign in ICEM against Canada. An advantage of withdrawing very soon would be to put an end to this campaign.
28. Colonel Fortier noted that both Finance and Immigration favoured an announcement in 1956 that we intended to withdraw on January 1, 1957, but for different reasons. He hoped that by giving notice of an early withdrawal Canada could obtain more satisfactory terms of reference for ICEM. The Director of ICEM and his Deputy would be in Ottawa this spring, and it would be useful to be able to tell them confidentially then about the Canadian stand.
29. The Deputy Minister of Welfare said there was no point in going back to the Cabinet and making the same recommendation as a year ago unless new reasons could be advanced in its favour. It might be useful, however, to sound out the Ministers most concerned on the question. If they agreed that membership in ICEM would be worthwhile under better terms of reference, then Cabinet approval might be requested of the strategy recommended by the Chairman.
30. The Committee agreed that the representatives of Citizenship and Immigration and External Affairs should inform their respective Ministers of the discussion, and if the Ministers agreed, should prepare a joint memorandum to Cabinet reviewing the situation and pointing out that:
(a) the early announcement of Canada's intention to withdraw from ICEM on January 1, 1957, might result in this country obtaining through negotiation terms of reference for the organization that would make our continued membership after that date worthwhile; and
(b) that the Director of ICEM and his Deputy would be in Ottawa this spring, and it might be useful to inform them then of the position Canada was intending to take.
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