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Banner: Moving Here, Staying Here. The Canadian Immigrant Experience


The Documentary TrailTraces of the PastFind an Immigrant
Introduction
Free From Local Prejudice
A National Open-Door Policy
Filling the Promised Land
A Preferred Policy
A Depressing Period

Radical Policies

by Vadim Kukushkin, University of Alberta

The radical changes in Canadian immigration policy introduced in the early 1930s were accompanied by remarkably little public debate. Given the dire economic circumstances of the early 1930s, restricting immigration seemed like a natural course to follow for most Canadians. No mainstream Canadian party, trade union or farmer organization publicly opposed the new regulations. While the press occasionally featured individual cases of immigrant mistreatment, the general principles of the government policy seldom came under fire. Indeed, some politicians demanded even stricter admission policies. Such voices were especially strong in Quebec and British Columbia, where massive immigration had many traditional opponents.

Government repressions against the radicals spurred more controversy. Some Canadians saw the suppression of Communists as a thinly disguised attack on the principles of free speech. Opposition to the government policy was led by working-class organizations, particularly the Canadian Labour Defence League (CLDL), established in 1925 to help workers on strike. It provided bail money and legal assistance to arrested labour activists and circulated propaganda literature branding the government as the agent of capitalist interests. The dominant public reaction to the anti-communist crusade, however, was positive. With few exceptions, the mainstream press hailed government action against communists, whose ideas were viewed as foreign to the Canadian way of life.


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