Volume #15 - 755.|
IMMIGRATION FROM INDIA
Acting Under‑Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to High Commissioner in India14
TOP SECRET ||
February 14th, 1949|
Dear Mr. Kearney,
We were interested in receiving your letter which we arbitrarily gave the date of October 26, 1948,15 in answer to Mr. Pearson's letter of August 12,16 on the subject of Indian immigration to Canada, in particular your suggestion for a modificationof our immigration policy to permit the entry for permanent residence of a small annual quota of Indian citizens. This was considered in the Commonwealth and Consular Divisions and referred to the Department of Mines and Resources as well as to all our missions in Commonwealth countries.
2. Dr. Keenleyside wrote to me regarding your letter on January 19. A copy of this letter, which I think you will find very interesting, is attached.
3. As you may have noticed from the Minutes of the Heads of Division meeting of January 24, an Inter‑Departmental Committee has been constituted to review and revise the Immigration Act and Regulations. This is a matter in which this Department, as well as the missions abroad, have an obvious and considerable interest. The Inter‑Departmental Committee which has been charged with the work ofexamining the existing Act, has not been given any authority to consider any alteration of its basis, under which the flow of inunigrants to Canada is controlled by Orders‑in‑Council. However, this may not necessarily preclude us from making recommendations if we feel these are desirable, and consideration is being given to this matter by the Divisions concerned. We are happy, therefore, that you have taken some trouble to give us your views on this subject. Our officers who deal with relations with China and other Far Eastern countries, as well as those concerned with the new members of the Commonwealth in Asia, have been giving consideration to the consequences of our present policy of excluding persons of Asiatic race. They have been much attracted by the arguments in favour of a quota system and are preparing memoranda on this subject.
4. During the coming weeks, when the Immigration Act will thus be under careful examination, we will be glad to receive any views that Heads of Mission may wish to make.
5. We will not attempt, therefore, to prepare any general answer to your letter of last October. There are, however, one or two comments which might well be made at this time. In reply to paragraph 2 of your letter it may be said that Mr. Nehru did not at the meeting of Prime Ministers in London last October raise the subject of Indian immigration within the Commonwealth. These informal meetings deliberately avoided any specific issues between different members.
6. In paragraph 7 of your letter you raised the intriguing suggestion that it might be possible to arrange to have the few Asian immigrants who might come to Canada under a quota scheme reside in provinces other than British Columbia. While it is true, of course, that under Section 95 of the B.N.A. Act, the provinces have concurrent powers of legislation respecting immigration, these in fact have to be pretty well limited to settlement arrangements within provinces. The question of entry to Canada itself is a matter exclusively of federal jurisdiction. It is a fundamental principle that there should be freedom of movement between the provinces for all persons, including aliens in peacetime, although in wartime restrictions have been placed on the movements of enemy and other aliens. While, therefore, certain administrative arrangements might be made to encourage certain types of immigrants to settle in certain provinces, there would be no possibility of preventing them from moving to some other part of the country if they desired to.
7. We have been puzzled by the point raised by Dr. [D.P.] Pandia which you quote in paragraph 8 of your letter to the effect that the Canadian‑born Indian men choose their wives in India with the result that Canadian‑born Indian women must remain spinsters. It is rather difficult to understand why this should be the case especially as the number of men in the Sikh community far exceeds the number of women, and we do not know whether it is a general phenomenon among the Sikhs resident in and about Vancouver. In any event, it was certainly useful as an argument for Dr. Pandia, to seek some relaxation in our regulations so that fiances of Canadian‑born Indian women could come to Canada. This type of case was covered in Dr. Keenleyside's letter to Sardar Malik of June 25, 1948, a copy of which you have.
140n ne summit dire, d'aprés le dossier, si cette ébauche fut envoyée A Kearney. Elle comical, néanmoins, les vues des directions consulaire et du Commonwealth en ca qui a trait aux leures de Kearney et Keenleyside. Leslie Chance inscrivit on commentaire à l'effet que ceci n'était pas as question which is going to be settled very easily or very quickly and I should have thought that it is better to let it stand as it is at the present.. Son homologue, en tant que chef de la direction du Commonwealth, R.A. MacKay, affirma qu'il «would seem to us inadvisable to take any initiative in a manner of this kink (Note du 21 janvier 1949, DEA/50017‑40).
15Volume 14, Document 815.
16 Volume 14, Document 814.