CANADA AND IMMIGRATION
AN ADDRESS BY
PROF. WATSON KIRKCONNELL, M.A., Ph.D.
Chairman: The President, Mr. W. Eason Humphreys.
Thursday, March 23, 1944
MR. W. E. HUMPHREYS: Canada has many obligations,--not the least of these is the question of receiving people from other lands who may desire to become Canadians. I suggest that this difficult,--yet most vital question of immigration is an obligation to be considered both scientifically, and, with equal care, morally.
To assist us, Professor Watson Kirkconnell, M.A., Ph.D., F.R.S.C., of McMaster University, is about to speak to us on:
Born in Port Hope--receiving his education at Queen's and Oxford Universities,--Watson Kirkconnell has been honoured by learned societies in France, Britain, Hungary,
Poland, and Iceland,--and in Western Canada he devoted much study to the racial problems of this Dominion.
Dr. Kirkconnell is President of the Canadian Authors Association,--and is himself author of some thirty publications,--among them: "Canada, Europe and Hitler", and "Twilight of Liberty."
Our guest is a master of languages,--in fact,--I think I may say that he makes a hobby of the study of foreign languages. Immigration, however, has also been one of his special studies, and today he gives us the benefit of his own views to help place the problem in perspective. Gentlemen I cannot resist telling you that in the sixth century, St. Benedict laid down immigration rules for his monastic order.
We might do well to ponder those rules. They were that
"If any pilgrim monk comes from distant parts and wishes as a guest to dwell within the monastery, and will be content with the customs which he finds in the place ... he shall be received for as long a time as he desires. But if he hath been found gossipy and contumacious in the time of his sojourn as guest, not only ought he not to be joined to the body of the monastery, but also it shall be said to him, honesty, that he must depart. I f he does not go, let two stout monks, lit the name of God, explain the matter to him."
Gentlemen: Dr. Watson Kirkconnel will now speak to us on "Canada and Immigration."
DR. WATSON KIRKCONNELL: Mr. President and Gentlemen: The subject on which your executive has invited me to speak today is one of absorbing interest to thoughtful Canadians. We are still in the throes of a great war, "in a time of the breaking of nations", and the vast human movements of our day must surely jolt us into wide-awake concern over the future of our own country and the future of the Empire. How may we hope to prosper? Are there strict limits to our destiny? What considerations should shape our population policies when peace returns again?
In the forty minutes at my disposal, I want to analyse three great aspects of our national life
(i) Our effective area, from the standpoint of immigration.
(ii) Our resources, by which to provide for population growth.
(iii) The present character of our population, and the lessons to be learned from it.
Before I launch out upon the stormy waters of statistics, however, I should like to put on record two or three qualifying principles
(i) The present urgent need, on grounds of Christian compassion and sheer humanity, to provide shelter for a few thousand tormented refugees from Europe should be kept distinct from the larger problem of post-war immigration.
(ii) Post-war immigration policy should visualize and provide assurance of relatively full employment for our population, regardless of racial origin. Until the Canadian economy has made due provision for the millions of Canadians now in the armed forces and in special war industries, we have no business to jeopardize their economic security by pouring in extensive immigration.
(iii) Immigration should be under the direct control of the government, without any subsidiary arrangement with private interests.
And now to come to grips with the realities of our Canadian economy.
Few subjects are so completely misunderstood by Canadians as the extent of their country that is available for settlement. Our vast area on the map inspires the patriot to make speeches on the unlimited expansion of population that we may look for. It likewise moves the heart of our humanitarian citizens with pity for the crowded peoples of other lands, of whom it is our immediate Christian duty to import one or two hundred millions--lest they move in and take over anyway. But let us get down to statistics. The over-all area of Canada is estimated at 3,750,000 square miles. The Canada Year Book, however, lists two million square miles as "waste land" and another million and a quarter square miles as "fit for forest only". The 1940 edition, at page 251, states that only 8.6 per cent of Canada's area is arable. This amounts to only 325,000 square miles, or the combined area of Texas and Okhlahoma, and three-quarters of this is already being used for field crops and pasture.
This point cannot be too strongly and frequently stressed. Canada could give away over 90 per cent of its territory and still retain all of the land that is available for permanent settlement. One sack of coal delivered in a two-ton truck remains one sack of coal.
It is on this more modest basis of settlement that we need to estimate the possible population of Canada. In terms of our more restricted area, the population of Canada is not 3 per square mile but 35.4 per square mile, or more than twice the density of Texas. The density for the entire United States in 1920 was 35.5 per square mile. On a New World basis, we are not so glaringly underdeveloped.
Over against the congested populations of Europe or India, however, we, like the United States, may seem to be prodigally provided with elbow-room. If peasants in the Balkans can raise a family on five acres of land, why cannot Canada, by comparable concentration, add several millions to its population?
It may be admitted at once that after centuries an ultimate swarming of this sort may come. Permit me to summarize, however, certain reasons why it is not likely to come in our time
(1) Most of the arable land in Canada is already owned and occupied. He would be a bold bureaucrat who would ask the average Ontario farmer to move over and make room for 19 other families on his 100-acre farm. The whole trend of agriculture in the world today, moreover, is toward larger farm units and greater mechanization, calling for fewer hands to work. Part of the exodus from Western Canada is due to the fact that every combine deprives at least five men of a harvest job. "A large farm that formerly took on 30 men in the spring and another 120 to 150 during the harvest now employs only 14 men throughout the year. An average small farm will employ 2 to 3 men instead of 8 to 10." (H. B. Butler, International Labour Organization, 2nd Supplementary Report of the Director, p. 10). The big collective farm in Soviet Russia represent the same tendency on a large scale. For Canada to defy the whole trend of our time, and revert to a peasant economy, simply to get more population, seems uncertain of success.
(2) Peasant concentration involves poverty beyond anything we can conceive. The value of all the agricultural output of Hungary, per capita of the rural population, is only about sixty dollars a year, and the standard of life is catastrophically low. Scientific agriculture, including the extensive use of fertilizers, may raise the output per acre considerably, as in the case of Denmark, but one must remember that in Denmark over four-fifths of the arable land is in farms of over 25 acres each. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1943, ed., vii, 205.)
(3) Climate is another factor. The short growing season limits, in most of Canada, the possibilities of the crop year; while the severity of our winters calls for considerable expense in fuel and heavy clothing.
(4) Accessibility to markets is a vital factor. It is scant comfort to a man on virgin soil in the remote Peace River country to get 100 bushels of oats to the acre if it costs him 37 cents a bushel merely to get it out as far as Edmonton. Or again, were the black soil of the Red River Valley close to New York, it might support ten times its present number of market-gardeners. But geography has doomed it to a restricted local market. It is not a matter of time, but of costs. Aeroplanes could rush Manitoba lettuces and celery to New York in a single morning; but the expense of shipping, whether by plane, train or truck, will always be many times that of shipping from New Jersey or Connecticut. New methods of dehydrating vegetables and fruits may help somewhat, but competitive transportation costs still remain. Intensive agriculture requires proximity to large centres of population, and that condition is lacking in the case of most of Canada's agricultural areas.
Certain blue-eyed optimists, however, have no misgivings. All you have to do is to pour in new population and it will create new wealth and new demands for goods. One such opinion that I have on file reads: "The great American depression was due in part to the closing of the immigration gates. There might not have been so much unemployment had a steady stream of immigrants, worth perhaps $10,000 apiece on the hoof, come into the country between 1920 and 1929, creating immediately a demand for housing, foodstuffs, cotton-goods, etc.".
This is an egregious error. The potential value of each newcomer may indeed be $10,000 to the country; but unless he can earn wages, or create immediate wealth on the land, or bring capital with him, his effective demand for goods and services is precisely nil. He creates a demand for nothing but relief. He can no more contribute to the development of the national wealth than can a billion tons of molybdenite in the heart of Ungava, a thousand miles from a railway. If he represents labour in excess of the country's economic development-determined by resources, capital enterprise and effective markets-then he will fail to find employment and will prove a sheer loss to the Dominion.
For the proof of this, let me appeal to the actual history of immigration into Canada. The simple truth is that during the 80 years from 1851 to 1931 the total immigration into Canada was almost exactly the same as the total emigration out from Canada, chiefly to the United States. The late M. C. MacLean has shown that if there had been neither immigration nor emigration during those years, our own natural increase would have given us a population at least as large as we have today. The net result of the immigration was the replacement of a considerable number of native Canadians by new-comers from abroad.
Over the period as a whole, Canada always had twice as many new settlers available as she could absorb. For example, in the decade 1871-1881, the immigration doubled, but only one immigrant in five remained in Canada. In 1881-1891, the immigration increased two and a half times, but only one in nine remained. In the decade 18911901, six out of every ten immigrants left Canada. In our most phenomenal period of influx, 1901-1911, some 1,848,000 entered Canada, but the emigration was around one million. Between 1921 and 1931, we received a million and a half new citizens, but lost a million and a quarter. During the whole period from 1851 to 1931, we lost 6,110,000 people to the United States, of whom 1,740,000 were native Canadians and 4,370,000 were immigrants who had found it impossible to get a foothold in our economic life. The U.S.A., with 6 times our farmland, 40 times our coal output, 50 times our iron output, and 850 times our petroleum output, not to mention 70 times our available savings, was apparently able to handle all our surplus.
A minor variant of this story is to be found in the case of the Prairie Provinces, to which some of our optimists would glibly assign a potential population of forty mil lions. Unfortunately, the Prairie Provinces are today failing to provide even for such population as they have. From 1921 to 1936, some 632,000 persons came into the Prairie Provinces from outside of Canada and the natural increase was 522,171. As the actual increase in population was only 458,809, there was an evident loss of almost 700,000 persons who were unable to make a living in the West. For the decade 1931-1941, the Prairies could not even support their own natural increase. During these ten years, as the natural increase in the West was 315,000 and the actual total increase only 45,000, there must have been a net exodus of 270,000.
Neither should we forget that the American frontier has been closed since 1930, and that as late as 1937 Canada still had a million persons on direct relief. Many factors were involved in the depression, but there were grounds for suspecting that our country, as then administered, was not capable of absorbing even our own natural increase.
Let me reiterate the sad truth that emerges from our past experience of immigration. At no time in the past 90 years, apart from the temporary emergencies of war, has Canada ever had a shortage of man-power. We have always had more people than we could digest. Natural increase would have brought us at least the population that we have. As fast as new water ran into our little millpond, just as fast the water spilled over the dam and ran away.
What then is the answer, gentlemen? If we want to have more water, we must build a higher dam. If we wish to have a larger population, we must turn to a wise survey of our resources, a bold planning for their development, a brave capitalization of every authentic project, and an unwearied search for markets to vindicate our expansion. Take care of the development, and the population will take care of itself. But the planning, the investing, the essential brain-and-money work must come first. Unless Canadians are incapable of profiting by past experience, that is the conclusion they will draw from the lamentable story of our losses in population. Instead of indulging in day-dreams as to how many millions can come streaming in through our Atlantic ports, we need to turn to the sober practical problem of so opening up our resources that we may have jobs to offer-jobs for our own native-born and jobs for newer citizens-to-be. It speaks well for the sagacity of the present Premier of Ontario that he is already arranging for a provincial department of Planning and Development. Only so shall we pass from pipe-dreams to realities.
The task will not be easy. Although we have been told on every Dominion Day since 1867 that Canada has "unlimited natural resources", yet our responsible authorities give us no such assurance. Let us run hastily over some of these unlimited resources, so that we may appreciate the problems of the planners
(1). First, take the soil. Here we have about 325,000 square miles, of which 256,700 square miles are occupied. Manitoba and Saskatchewan, for example, report to the Rowell-Sirois Commission that they had virtually no land left for settlement. The main area still available is in the Peace River district, where soil experts anticipate a possible increase, in the next 20 years, of perhaps 250,000 persons. Wholesale clearing by peace-time troops with bull-dozers, so as to give each settler fifty acres cleared to start with, would be one sort of guarantee of speedy and permanent settlement. An experiment at Kapuskasing, in the Ontario Clay Belt, at the close of the last war, where each man was given only ten acres cleared, proved a complete failure,
More serious, however, than this comparative lack of good new land to develop, is the rapid deterioration of the soil in the regions that are occupied. For example, the 1942 report on "Conservation and Post-War Rehabilitation", prepared by the so-called Guelph Conference, presents a picture of grim decay right here in Southern Ontario. Some of you are aware of the report, but we cannot read it too often. Let me quote: "All renewable natural resources of Southern Ontario are seriously depleted. Soil is impoverished; water is becoming less available; what water remains is largely polluted; forest cover is decreasing; erosion is increasing; and wild life has diminished in abundance. . . . In short, unplanned exploitation of the renewable natural resources of the Province has gravely reduced their productivity and has established a progressive degradation which will end in sterility unless control measures are adopted." That is a story that can be repeated of rural Canada everywhere. The verdict of our scientists on our resources of soil is that we have "established a progressive degradation that will end in sterility'.'. Of the 30,000 square miles of farm lands in Old Ontario, upwards of 8,000 square miles are now seriously dismantled, and the process goes on apace. The remedies for the erosion are fairly well known-reforestation, contour ploughing, and the building of ponds and dams-but as the report points out, "it may fairly be said that nothing is being done to cope with it".
Instead, therefore, of gaily counting in advance the millions of new farmers that we are going to settle on our land, we shall need to make sure that our grandchildren do not face an arid countryside of sand-dunes and empty wells and starving live-stock.
(II). Next, let us consider our forests. The Encyclopedia Britannica (1943 edition, vol. ix, p. 504) gives the following rather alarming summary of our present timber situation: "In Canada, the total amount of accessible merchantable saw-timber is estimated at approximately 61 1/2 billion cubic feet and of pulpwood 52 billion cubic feet. The forests are being destroyed from two to two and a half times faster than they are being grown. Taking an annual drain upon the forests of 5 billion cubic feet, the accessible stands of virgin forests will be exhausted in about 25 years. . . [The Canadian supply of pulpwood, though large, is already given so much concern that the exportation of manufactured wood or subject to restriction in several provinces."]
Instead, therefore, of being able to expand our timber-cutting to take care of a larger population, we shall face timber bankruptcy unless we reduce our cut or else eliminate the present loss of a billion cubic feet a year through fire, insects and disease, employ less wasteful industrial processes, and undertake large scale scientific forest culture.
(III). The fishery resources of Canada are very important, as two of the four great sea-fishing areas of the world border on Canada. The total number of persons engaged in fishing or in fish-canning in 1938 was almost 87,000. It is probable, however, that without careful measures of conservation and fish culture, we have reached the peak of development.
(IV). Trapping and fur-farming will continue to be of economic importance, but do not represent a large outlet for population.
(V). Canada's power resources are very extensive, with a possible turbine installation of over 43,000,000 horse power, of which only 19 per cent has been developed. Much of the potential power is isolated, however, in the remoter districts of Manitoba and Quebec, where it must wait on co-ordination with mineral extraction or manufacturing.
(VI). When we turn to mining, today second only to agriculture as a basic industry in Canada, we find the resource that is most likely to permit great expansion in the years that lie ahead. I say "likely", rather than "certain", because prospecting, like horse-racing, is full of unpredictable hazards, and because only limited areas of our great North have so far revealed treasures for the miner.
In the Globe and Mail for May 21, 1943, there appeared a most significant statement by the Hon. Robert Laurier, then Minister of Mines in the Ontario Government. "The Ontario Department of Mines," said Mr. Laurier, "has long been conscious of the fact that the position of its mining industry was not economically sound. It has also been conscious of the fact that the interests of the people of the Province and the Dominion were seriously jeopardized by the fact that proven ore deposits were being depleted at a rate far in excess of replacements."
While this does not necessarily mean that Canada's minerals will soon be exhausted, it does mean that such known deposits as are accessible and capable of being worked on terms of world competition are being used up at a prodigal rate. What we shall need is an extensive and vigorous programme of prospecting for new mines and an endeavour to develop the great known resources of the Canadian prairies, the Subarctic, and even the Arctic archipelago, most of which have hitherto been regarded as being too remote to be of any economic significance.
(VII). Most important of all, perhaps, is the development of new secondary manufacturing enterprises, dependent on the primary extractive industries. What these should be, I feel scarcely competent to enumerate. It might be, for instance, that the field of ceramics could undertake great expansion, or that the use of wheat-straw for paper (now successfully begun) could be much extended. The whole field of industrial chemistry opens up vast possibilities. It would take us 320 years, at our past maximum rate of growth, to have enough people in Canada to consume our present wheat crop; but a large fraction of the same acreage put into cellulose-crops for plastics might help to bring our economy more into balance. Alkalis from brine, nitrates from atmospheric nitrogen, synthetic dyes from coal or wood-pulp, inexhaustible food supplies from sea-weeds and plankton, an expansion of the use of light metals--there are scores of ways in which biochemical and metallurgical science may contribute to the expansion of our industry. The replacement of our crowded urban slums by hygienic homes in healthy surroundings--after the fashion that I admired six years ago in the Scandinavian countries--would give our architects and builders full employment for a generation. Indeed, the possibilities that science, capital and human enterprise might bring to the renovation and enrichment of our industrial civilization; might well transcend all of the difficulties that I have so far outlined and make possible a population far larger than I have envisaged.
Let me emphasize, however, that it can only come by toil and planning. Look after the development and the population will look after itself.
Much of the development, moreover, will need to be positively new. It is well to remember that the addition of extra factories in an existing industry in Canada would not necessarily result in a clear addition to the national output. The United States Commissioner for Labour Statistics stated about 15 years ago that if 200 of the 1357 boot and shoe factories in that country worked full time, they could satisfy the whole existing demand, and the remaining 1,157 establishments could be closed down. Hence, if all of Britain's boot and shoe firms over and above Britain's domestic needs were transferred to Canada, they could scarcely hope to compete in the American market, they might well find the Canadian market already saturated, and they would have assumed the cost of transatlantic shipping as an almost fatal handicap in the European market.
That brings me to the all-important but all-uncertain question of markets. For economic expansion, we must have access to extensive and varied markets, and our Commercial Intelligence service will be taxed to the utmost in its endeavours to find an outlet for Canadian products. Mr. C. M. Croft, the director of that branch of the Department of Trade and Commerce, has even pointed out that at the end of the war some of our former markets may be permanently lost to us.
We shall also need to consider the necessity of import trade. The Canadian manufacturer cannot expect to have the Canadian market entirely to himself if Canadian products are to be sold abroad. As Lord de la Warr recently warned the Canadian Club of Toronto, "there is only one recognized way of payment-by accepting goods". The whole development of the Canadian economy is going to be conditioned by our import and export trade, and until we know more of such post-war factors. Much of our planning is pure guess-work.
In spite of all these elements of uncertainty, some of you may still he expecting me to give actual estimates of the numbers whom we might take in under the most favourable conditions. Let me refer again to the past. Our previous maximum in growth was 180,000 a year, during the decade 1901-1911, when we were opening up the Prairies on a large scale. If we had another Northwest to settle, (which we have not), or if, as the only possible alternative, we could develop our mineral resources and existing farm output to an equivalent extent and find new markets for that extra amount of trade, then we might hope again to reach that peak growth of 180,000 a year. Our own natural increase, however, is 130,000 a year, and if a closed American frontier did not permit us to give the States an annual gift of 130,000 Canadians, then the most we could hope to absorb from abroad would be 50,000 immigrants a year. At that rate, it would take 20 years to bring in one million new citizens. Our own natural increase in itself, if we can maintain and retain it, will give us a population of 20 millions to provide for by the end of the century.
THE WANING ANGLO-SAXON
Many of us are interested, however, not only in the size of the Canadian nation but also in its character. Here, too, we must face the facts. According to the 1941 census, our total population of 11,506,655 falls into three main groups:
Anglo-Saxons 5,715,904 or 49.7 percent. French 3,483,038 or 30.3 percent. Others chiefly European 2,307,713 or 20.0 percent.
These figures, however, give us only part of the picture, for populations are not static and it is important to consider the trend of group statistics as well as their quantity at a given moment. Whereas the Anglo-Saxons constituted 60.55 per cent of Canada's population at the first Federal census in 1871, they have now dropped to 49.7 per cent, and that in spite of the immigration of millions from the British Isles. The French, who were 31.07 per cent in 1871, are now 30.3 per cent, but have increased absolutely from one million to 3Y2 millions in seventy years, without the aid of immigration. The "other groups" have risen, largely through immigration, from 8.39 per cent to 20 per cent, although most of the people in these newer communities are now Canadian-born. The Anglo-Saxons have become an actual minority in Canada.
Nor is this all. The Anglo-Saxons, who in 1931 constituted 52 per cent of the population, have for the past fifteen years been contributing less than 40 per cent of the annual births in this country. In other words, only about 40 per cent of the Canadian children of school age are of Anglo-Saxon origin, and their adult generation will be correspondingly diminished. A century hence will see them at perhaps 25 per cent of Canada's population.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE SITUATION
Certain comments are due on this situation
(1) This alarming trend towards group extinction is due simply and solely to the failure of the Anglo-Canadians to maintain a survival birth-rate. They have preferred a high standard of life to a home full of children.
A BRITISH RESPONSIBILITY
(2) To seek a blood-transfusion of British immigration would, if economically possible, prove only a temporary expedient. Birth control is a malady that has advanced even further in Britain than it has in Canada. Mr. Herbert Morrison, the British Home Secretary, has recently summed up the United Kingdom situation in these terms: "On the basis of present trends, if uncorrected, our- population would be halved by the end of this century and nearly half of its people would be over 60. That way lies national extinction." (Cf. Hamilton Spectator, July 27, 1943.) To import confirmed race suicides might retard our disappearance but would only postpone the ultimate day of extinction.
(3) Some good people assure me that the subnormal birth-rate is only a temporary phenomenon, and will rise to normal again, especially if economic conditions improve.
I can only say that I do not know of a solitary case in human history where this trend has been reversed in any class or group where it had become established. (For example, of the forty-five famous old patrician families represented in the Roman senate in Julius Caesar's day, only one was represented by posterity in Hadrian's time, 150 years later.) As for the wistful hope that improvements in national income will do the trick, it seems, on the contrary, a normal phenomenon that a rise in group-income brings a fall in the birth-rate. It is precisely our well-to-do groups that fail most conspicuously to perpetuate their stock. A taste of personal comfort brings reluctance to sacrifice it for the sake of numerous children, unless a strong sense of religious duty sustains the moral fibre. It is an ironic situation that Anglo-Canadians are willing to make every sacrifice in war to ensure the immediate survival of their groups, but do not show the slightest interest in its survival thirty years hence. Their stock is withering at the root, here in the soil of commercial prosperity, and nobody seems to care.
(4) It is all the more important for us to realize the merits of our fellow-Canadians of other stocks, and to work towards a co-operative unity of effort in the up building of our common country. In the course of 18 years spent in Western Canada, I came to know and appreciate many of the newer communities who, for the most part Canadian-born, are blending more and more into our national life. Or again, contact with the literature of French Canada has led me to realize the culture and spirituality that Quebec can contribute to our mutual destiny.
(5) The choice of new immigrants should not be exclusively British. We claim to be fighting in these times against racial arrogance and intolerance. If, then, at the close of this war, one of the gallant young Polish airmen who helped to win the Battle of Britain were to seek entrance into Canada, how could we dare to tell him "None but Anglo-Saxons need apply."? And how could we face his brave Polish-Canadian kinfolk who have been fighting in our own army, navy and air force?
We hope to see in Canada the perpetuation of a democracy in the British tradition--the tradition built up in this country by Baldwin and Lafontaine, by Macdonald and Laurier. We should therefore give preference in immigration, regardless of race or creed, to those whose political background, intelligence and love of freedom are likely to fit them for such a democracy. Such a principle will give us admirable citizens from Britain; but it will also bring in men and women of the finest type from other lands as well. It is selective immigration, on a basis that will call for a scrutiny of each man's background. Most of Canada's Finns have been praiseworthy citizens, but thousands of Finnish Communists, admitted indiscriminately in the early 1920's, have been a turbulent element in our life ever since. Most of our Doukhobors have been law-abiding and constructive, but the "Sons of Freedom" sect has proven hopelessly antisocial.
(6) If we hope to secure a fair proportion of settlers from Britain, we may need to raise the standard of our labour legislation. During the decade prior to the present war, we lost more people to Britain than we received from her, and that in spite of distinct preferences shown to the United Kingdom (e.g. by Order-in-Council of March 21, 1931). The lack of a social security system in Canada was almost certainly partly to blame.
(7) In the past, we have left our new-comers largely to themselves, without help or guidance. More attention should be devoted to helping them to adjust themselves to the new country and to understand, as a condition of their naturalization, the character of our state and the responsibilities they should assume as citizens.
(8) If the British in Canada, like the British in the world, are a dwindling people in point of numerical strength, we have two serious responsibilities towards the future
The first is domestic. We shall need to be sure that the Canadian civilization of which we now enjoy the economic and political leadership maintains a tradition of indubitable justice. For instance, hundreds of thousands of non-British Canadians, who suffered in undeserved idleness during ten depression years, are today enjoying full employment, their labour earnestly courted by the nation at war. Agitators assure them, however, that when peace-time comes they will be cast aside again to make room for returned men or even for new immigrants from overseas. The assumption is that the revolutionists can lead them into a new order where they can be sure of work. If we fail to provide employment, not only for the returned man but also for the rest of our Canadian people, we shall be playing into the hands of the agitator and shall be storing up trouble for our national future. We have no business bringing in large scale immigration until we can assure reasonably full employment and social security for our existing population, regardless of racial origin.
Second, we need to interpret to our fellow-countrymen the importance of collaboration with the rest of the Empire in a general system of world peace. If the past thirty years have taught us anything, they have surely shown us that isolation from world affairs is impossible, and that if we rush into neutral seclusion like a scared rabbit into a burrow, world forces will none the less inexorably dig us out for destruction. Only as people of good will can co-operate together, can we hope for protection from dark and tyrannous world conspiracies. Britain can no longer police the seas alone; Britain and the United States appear indissolubly bound to common support; and to whom shall we Canadians first turn for cooperative action if not to those nations with whom we share a common loyalty to a common throne? Collective security is vital, on as wide a basis as possible; but how can we hope to co-operate with Russia or China, whose character we see so imperfectly through the mists of propaganda, if we refuse to co-operate with Britain whom we know so well? How can we get along with distant neighbours, if we stand aloof from members of our own household?
Such then are some of the considerations that arise when we consider the problem of immigration in the light of Canada's past and future.
Our resources, though great, have been recklessly impaired and need wise conservation as well as wise development. Our past history points out the folly of bringing in heavy immigration without prior preparation in the opening up of new areas and processes. All our experience is against any sudden and fantastic influx of new population. Our national development, at least in our lifetime and that of our children, is likely to be on a modest scale, with 20 millions as a possible limit for the end of the century.
Yet I cannot see why we should interpret greatness only in terms of numbers. We are the heirs of two great traditions of freedom and civilization, and shall be great in spirit if we are worthy of those traditions. We shall be still greater if we have vision to see our place in a larger enterprise, co-operating freely, not only in the emergencies of war but also in the greater tasks of world peace and world freedom. The Empire as a centralized and expansive power is a thing of the past. The Empire as a voluntary association of peoples, side by side with the United States, as the stable centre of gravity of a system of world security, is the chief hope of the future. And frankly, gentlemen, apart from such a wise and resolute commitment to world issues, I see little hope for this blood-stained world of ours. The forces of disruption and revolution are world-wide and insatiable. If uncontrolled by just and freedom-loving men, they may plunge us into new Dark Ages of destruction. Canada and the Empire will be most truly great as they join with nations of good will to make possible a future for mankind.