Deportation under the criminal code and the Immigration Act, 1919-1936
Dick, Eric Lyle
The 1919 sedition and deportation ammendments in Canada were not merely the product of anti-radical hysteria induced by the Winnipeg General Strike, but were consistent with the ideological propensity of the Conservative-Unionist and Bennett governments to suppress alien and left-wing dissent. This tendency was reflected in earlier, anti-radical enactments by Borden's government under the War Measures Act, providing, among other things, for the summary internment and deportation of suspected alien radicals. For the most part the stringent measures passed in 1919 represented the conversion of wartime powers to peace-time legislation. The conservative ideology that inspired these amendments was manifested in the vigorous application of deportation powers by immigration and other officials during the Red Scare of 1919-20 and the depression of the early thirties. It was further sustained by the stubborn refusal of the Conservative majority in the Senate to approve repeal legislation repeatedly passed by the House of Commons, even in the context of domestic stability in the 1920s. Ultimately, conservative reaction was superseded by liberalism in the form of civil liberties legislation passed by Mackenzie King's government. The emergence of the repeal of Section 98 of the Criminal Code as a major issue in the 1935 Dominion election and Bennett's corresponding defeat had demonstrated the Canadian public's desire that its governments address themselves, not to the suppression of radicalism, but to the solution of economic problems underpinning social unrest.