The "Open" Door of Canadian Immigration - 1900

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Despite the argument that in the beginning of the 1900's, Canada's immigration policy was the most unrestrictive one, compared to those of other nations, from a history student's point of view in 2007, the "Open Door Policy" seems to have been quite selective about who it allowed entry into Canada. The fundamental factor that made the Canadian immigration policy a major hindrance to many types of people who wanted to emigrate was the prejudice with which the Canadians developed many beliefs. One of most significant of all was their racism over Asians. An epitome of a government action that was discriminating against Asians was the dramatic increase of the Chinese head tax in 1904, from $50 to what is ten times greater than that, $500. To compound the situation, the government banned the existing Chinese immigrants from bringing their wives or new brides into Canada. (Class handout #2) This policy was issued by the Canadian government to reduce the number of Chinese immigrants flooding into their lands. Firmly believing that the Chinese men are too poor and different to fit in the Canadian society, the Canadian government barred as many Chinese immigrants as they could. Compared to the modern family immigration policy, the policies at the time were much more discouraging. Nevertheless, the dispiriting policies did not only aim the reduction of Asian immigration but surprisingly, even Europeans. The "Prohibited Classes" in the "Chapter 93 An Act Respecting Immigration", again issued by the government, was a list of the classes of people forbidden to mark footsteps on any Canadian grounds. The list included those such as "dumb, blind, or otherwise physically defective unless…they have sufficient money…" or "prostitutes…pimps and persons living on the quails of prostitution…" (Class Handout #3). The immigration authorities rated them to be "unsuitable" for Canada, possibly interpretable as "not high enough" or "too vulgar" to belong to the British Canadian society;...
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