Immigration Policy and Ethnic Relations from 1930 to 1980 in Canada

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Immigration policy fluctuated greatly between 1930s and 1980s. In 1930s to about post -World War II, immigrants were greatly discriminated and only few could enter the country.

Great Depression hits Canada in 1930s, the unemployment crisis made Canadians particularly intolerant of immigrants. Immigration would only add more scares for jobs; Canadian men were already “fighting” for jobs in relief camps or anywhere where the jobs were available. “Prime Ministers Mackenzie King and R.B. Bennett reacted to public pressure by severely restricting immigration to a narrow range of "acceptable" applicants - those with money, agricultural skills and British or American roots”, which is a discrimination to other ethnic groups of people with money that wanted to immigrate at that time.

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Canada was again selective of Jews when Nazi persecution in Germany. While other countries were accepting thousands and thousands of Jews, Canada only opened their doors to 4000 Jewish refugees in the thirties.

Canada kept demonstrating its intolerance towards immigrants during World War II as well.

In late nineteenth century, Japanese people were lured to Canada with stories about “easy money and exaggerated living conditions”. Japanese people left their countries and business for better life in Canada but tremendous discrimination with low wages that’s what they faced when they came here. They had to work in “fishing, mining, and lumber industries and on the construction of the railroad.” “In 1942, the federal government labeled 22,000 Japanese Canadians (over 75% were Canadian citizens) “enemy aliens.” On the west coast, government without permission took and sold their property of the fraction of the value. “The RCMP also shut down Japanese Canadian schools and Japanese language newspapers”, Japanese were not allowed to vote and were placed in camps. Canadian government announced that they had to move to east coast of Canada or return to Japan. However, half of them were born in Canada and perhaps didn’t even know the language.

Only closer to 1960s, when Canadian economy was booming, Canada started to accept immigrants from non-white areas such as Caribbean, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

To conclude, it seems that immigration policy and ethnic relations from 1930 to 1980 were only accepted when Canada saw it as a positive outcome for the economy or government. Of course, it is understandable when economy is not doing well, and your own citizens are starving or have no shelter above their heads but some other polices from above were ridiculous and could have been more understanding and rational.

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