UBC Theses and Dissertations
Path dependent : Canada and Great Britain's immigration policies 1945 - present Woznow, Vanessa
After the end of the Second World War both Great Britain and Canada’s immigration policies underwent significant reforms. Great Britain’s transition from country of empire and emigration to independent, immigration nation was met with great resistance on the part of both British society and its government. Racially restrictive legislation aimed at limiting the number of New Commonwealth immigrants was introduced, an action that immediately clashed with Britain’s system of inclusive Commonwealth citizenship. Canada on the other hand implemented liberalizing, non-discriminatory reforms that offered all individuals irrespective of race the opportunity to immigrate, as long as they possessed the human capital required to succeed in Canadian society. This thesis uses the concept of path dependence to explain why, despite strong historical and cultural connections, Canada and Great Britain introduced disparate post-war immigration policies. Historical analysis reveals how both countries’ legislation mirrored socially embedded attitudes and norms, and illustrates the difficulty countries face in an effort to break away from historically accepted and propagated systems and conditions. Britain’s policies were influenced by the historical institution of “Empire,” while Canada’s were motivated by its dependence on immigration for economic prosperity and national unity.
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