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Argument advanced by Native Sons of British Columbia in opposition to granting of oriental franchise Native Sons of British Columbia 1930

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Native Sons of British Columbia
In Opposition to
Oriental Franchise
Canadians have been watching with considerable trepidation the
World arming for a recurrence of an era of bloodshed. The Dominion
Government, fearful of the future, has voted what to a small population
such as ours must be regarded as a considerable sum for defence of this
country. In other countries new concepts of government foreign to our
ideals of Democracy, and which are based on force are curtailing and
brutally stamping out personal liberty and the rights and inheritance of
In such a World—a World gone mad—is it not time for Canadians to
stop and carefully consider their future; to maintain a firm hold upon
realities, and to stand unitedly to maintain that individual freedom that
has constructed the democratic institutions that we enjoy?
Is the time ripe for us to experiment; to lower the guard that we
kept up in more tranquil times? We think that you will agree that it is
Yet, today, we have some of our own people, advocating what must
be considered only as a most dangerous expedient—the enfranchisement of
Orientals: Urging, counselling and assisting the endeavors of peoples whose
funadmental ideals, whose outlook on life, whose traditions and whose
economic concepts are antagonistic to our own appreciation of a democratic
This is no time to even consider such an enlargement of our most
sacred privilege as free citizens of the Dominion of Canada. Native Sons
of British Columbia are unequivocally opposed to extending the franchise
to the Asiatic races, and they call upon every thinking Canadian to join
with them in impressing the Dominion Government and the Parliament of
Canada the terrible risk such enlargement of citizenship would mean. We
believe that it is incumbent upon us, the sons of the pioneers of this
Western country to seek to arouse the public to the full portent of this
request to share in our heritage.
Many of us can well remember the days when the Orientals—then
comparatively few in number—were our servants; we saw them leave
those humble domestic and manual pursuits in which they were engaged
and become the competitors of our farmers; then, gradually they entered
into trade and the business occupations of our urban life, and invaded
the professions. Once our servants, now our competitors in industrial
occupations and commercial and economic spheres—today they are demanding full citizenship—give it to them and tomorrow they will be our
This is no idle, biased prediction born of prejudice—it is the story
so often repeated in the history of a dozen lands. You all remember how
the Danes won Britain. They edged in gradually; the price—their promised
full price for armed assistance against the enemy of the land—was a small
plot of earth that could be enclosed within a bullock hide. You know
the result.
Asiatic peoples have many admirable qualities. We admire them for
those qualities. We give and are willing to give to them the full measure
of the protection of our laws—but we do most strenuously oppose giving
them the right to participate in the making of those laws.
The plea is being made that Asiatics who were born within Canada
have the right, by the accident of birth, to enjoy the franchise upon
attainment of the full age of twenty-one. They have been educated in
our schools, have the veneer and polish of our Western culture, and in the
presentation  of  their  argument  to   a   Committee  of  Parliament  last  year
made, as was to be expected, a pleasing impression.
The delegation that attended at Ottawa last year was composed
entirely of Japanese, therefore it is without any nationally directed intent
that we must mainly direct our argument against Japanese. We admire
the Japanese as a people in their own land; we sympathize with them in
many things, but we must respectfully deny to them, to the limit of our
ability, the right to sit in our councils, and fashion our destiny.
When the Japanese delegates appeared before Parliament they told
but half the tale. They did not reveal their true purpose. They appealed
for the vote for Canadian born Japanese. But following their attendance
on the Parliamentary Committee Mr. S. I. Hikwawa, one of the delegates,
attended the Youth Congress in Ottawa and there he spoke of that which
was nearest to his heart. He said, in part:
"The total number of Canadian-born Japanese is only a matter
of 1,200, but we are sufficiently aware of our political obligations and
the rights of citizenship to demand the rights to which our birth
entitles us. Our parents are also discriminated against, and we fight
for their rights as well as our own."
So the fight that is being waged is not alone for the Japanese who
were born in Canada, but for those who were born and reared in Japan
as well—and at the taking of the census of 1931 there were 13,803 male
Japanese and 9,539 females, or a total of 23,342 of those nationals in the
Dominion. And of this substantial number no less than 22,205 were resident
in British Columbia. This is a number larger than the entire population of
this province at Confederation.
But, the Japanese do not form the entire picture, for the privileges
of citizenship extended to the Japanese would automatically bring similar
rights to the Chinese and other races, or bring about the enfranchisement,
within a few years at least, of a total of 84,548 Asiatics, of whom 50,951
were domiciled in British Columbia in 1931.
Provincial statistics reveal that the birth rate among Orientals is
much higher than among our white residents.
The lesson of Hawaii is before us. When the Island group was taken
over by United States there were only about one third of British Columbia's present total of Japanese resident there. The census returns of the
United States Government reveal that in 1930, when the count was made
they were the largest racial group, comprising some 134,000 persons, or
more than one third of the entire population. They are a dominating
factor in the public and political life of the Islands.
Now let us assume that there will be no further immigrants from
Asia within the next fifteen years. This presents the possibility within a
few short years of a solid Asiatic block of probably 40,000 men and women
of voting age will be resident here, with the total increasing every year.
This is a sufficiently large block to practically dictate government as
between parties. But there will, doubtless, be a considerable immigration
within the period mentioned, and particularly so if Orientals are given
the vote; for once enfranchised their peculiar solidarity on issues affecting
themselves would indubitably result in a weakening of immigration
You have the position of the Oriental plea that was masked as one
for Canadian born only, revealed as being in reality a drive for the full
rights of citizenship for the whole of the Oriental races, and that means
for a dominating place in the control of the country.
Again, we view with trepidation the inclusion within our citizenship
of a people who in their religious philosophy regard the sovereign of
another state as the chief symbol or agent of the Diety. No acceptance of
the franchise can overcome that belief. 0 D
Shintoism is the official religion—or philosophy—of Japan. Buddhism
is also largely the cult of a great section of the people of the Island
Empire. When the advocates of Buddhism brought the teachings of that
prophet to Japan it was found advisable to conform to the spiritual doctrines and concepts of the natives, to the extent that Japanese Buddhism
also regards the Mikado as the mortal head of the theology of Buddha.
Mr. D. Goh, eminent Japanese authority, and at one time a member
of the Japanese Consulate in London, writing on Shintoism, says:
"Whilst all other religious beliefs are theoretically distinct from
political usage and institutions, Shinto embraces the Imperial dynasty
of Japan as part of its Godhead, if such a term may be used in this
If on no other ground, Canadians must reject the demand for full
rights of participating in the government of this country to a people whose
religious philosophy so definitely associates them with the Emperor of a
foreign power. Further Mr. Goh says:
"It is my opinion, therefore, that any religion may be established
in Japan, provided it does not interfere with the practice of that filial
and loyal piety which the State demands."
Can a people who have been reared under such direct and implicit
acknowledgment of the divinity of the Imperial person make such loyal
Canadians as to uphold the; Dominion against that Prince? It is hardly
possible, especially when to inculcate those very principles, the Japanese
maintain their own school system in British Columbia. Follow the Japanese children from our own schools each afternoon, and you will find them
go directly to the Japanese schools, where Japanese ethics, Japanese
traditions and Japanese culture is taught to those who aspire to control
the destinies of Canada.
Again, have the Oriental races domiciled in Canada established their
right to the sacred partnership privileges that they demand? Have they
conformed in all respects with our laws? Have they demonstrated that as
peoples they can be assimilated?
The records of public offices must be studied to definitely establish
these facts; but common knowledge testifies to the contrary. It is not
sufficient that those Orientals who have enjoyed the advantage of our
educational facilities ambitiously demand the vote. Not the worthiness
of Japanese alone, but of all Asiatic races must be clearly proven before
such a privilege can be considered. Make no mistake, discrimination can
not be shown in favour of one Oriental race to the disadvantage of others.
If the Japanese are admitted to full citizenship, then the bars must be
lowered to the Chinese, the Koreans, the Manchukaoukans, the Burmese,
the peoples of India and all others who today are here, or who in future
may come to these shores.
It is incumbent, therefore, for us to regard the habits of life, the
observance of laws, the moral, religious and political attitudes of all
Asiatic races before we decide to take such a drastic step as is being
Who that has any acquaintanceship whatever with the Chinese
customs and manner of life—not in China, but in the Oriental quarters
of our own Canadian communities—or who has witnessed the attitude of
passive disregard for Canadian laws on the part of Orientals will say
that these people can be readily assimilated? Chinese who have spent
forty years within our borders, are today just as Chinese as when they
came from their own land. Their traditions, their mental reactions, their
habits and their secret contempt for ways that are not their own definitely
mark them as unfitted to adopt the responsibilities of a democracy such
as Canadians cherish.


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