Mackenzie King

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On May 1, 1947, in a speech before parliament, Prime Minister Mackenzie King outlined his government’s position on Canada’s
immigration policy. King noted that:
The policy of the government is to foster
the growth of the population of Canada
by the encouragement of immigration.
The government will seek by legislation,
regulation and vigorous administration, to
ensure the careful selection and
permanent settlement of such numbers of
immigrants as can advantageously be
absorbed in our national economy.... With
regard to the selection of immigrants,
much has been said about discrimination. I wish to make quite clear that Canada is perfectly within her rights in selecting
the persons whom we regard as desirable
future citizens. It is not a “fundament
al human right” of any alien to enter
Canada. It is a privilege.
It is a matter of domestic
policy.... There will, I am
sure, be general agreement with the view
that the people of
Canada do not wish,
as a result of mass immigration, to make
a fundamental alterati
on in the character
of our population. Large-scale immigrati
on from the Orient would change the
fundamental composition of the Canadian
population. Any considerable Oriental
immigration would, moreover, be certain
to give rise to social and economic
problems of a character that might lead to serious difficulties in the field of international relations.
1
King’s statement affirmed Canada’s longsta
nding policy of regulating immigration for
purposes of nation-building. This entailed distinguishing
among “preferred,” “non-
preferred,” and “excluded classes” of people. Whereas preferred immigrants from the British Isles and northern Europe were highly
sought after and aggressively recruited,
non-preferred immigrants from southern and
eastern Europe were
granted entry during
periods of economic growth but regulated more closely during bad times. Non-white immigrants from outside of Europe were
completely excluded through...
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