||January/February 2001 issue||
History of Canadian immigration policy
Visible majorities |
Immigration timeline: 1900 |
Immigration timeline: 1950
Immigration timeline: 2001 |
Diversity facts |
Movement of immigrants into Canada largely unrestricted,
although a Chinese Head Tax was introduced in British Columbia
in 1885 to restrict Chinese immigration (it would be the first
of such measures, which lasted until the 1940s).
Prior to 1906, the immigration laws used dated back to 1869.
Frank Oliver, a former newspaper publisher who sat as a Liberal
MP between 1896-1917 made one of the first steps in 20th century
toward defining immigration laws, following in the footsteps
of Sir Clifford Sifton. In fact, he defined the term "immigrant."
He barred a broad spectrum of people and increased government
power in the area of immigration and deportation of persons chosen
with these new, harsher laws. He also established a $25 landing
fee by order of council added to any tickets purchased and/or
funds brought into the country. A $500 head tax was imposed on
On January 19, 1962, the Honourable Ellen Fairclough, Minister
of Citizenship and Immigration, virtually eliminated racial discrimination
through the introduction of a new immigration act.
This new act stated that any unsponsored immigrant that had the
required education skill or other quality was able to enter Canada
if suitable, irrespective of colour, race, or national origin.
However, there were provisions: they had to have a specific
job waiting in Canada or be able to support themselves until
one was found, they could not be criminals or terrorists, and
they could not suffer from disease that could endanger the public
health. The only catch to this act was the favourtism toward
Americans: they could sponsor more relatives than immigrants
from other countries.
Pearson government introduces White Paper on immigration
policies. This document shows that Canadians should accept and
encourage as many immigrants into Canada as possible, stating
immigration has increased national population and economic growth.
It outlines how Canadians should accept those who can adapt to
Canadian society and barring those who can not adapt. Pearson's
document also makes admissions to certain immigrants for humanitarian
or compassionate reasons.
The Points System is established, judging immigrants on qualifications
such as language and skill. This system attempts to remove all
discrimination and prejudice because of Canada's cementing role
in diplomatic mediation and international peacekeeping. During
this time, the pattern of immigration swerved from Europeans
to Asian immigrants, concommitant with Canada's increased trade
with third world countries (Japan becomes Canada's third largest
source of trade after the U.S. and Britain).
The immigration act that formed the laws we follow today was
intended to promote Canada's demographic, economic, cultural
and social goals. This new act encouraged family reunification
and attempted to fulfill Canada's international obligation with
the UN, made in 1951.
This act was non-discriminatory in its policy and required cooperation
between all levels of government. Thus, the federal government
had to consult with the provinces regarding planning and management
of Canadian immigration.
There are four basic categories for landed immigrants in Canada
following this act. The fist classification is family; second,
humanitarian, including refugees, persecuted or displaced persons;
third, independents who followed their own initiative to immigrate
to Canada; and finally, assisted relatives.