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Whence They Came

Barbara Roberts

5. The Alien Bolshevik Menace, 1910-1920s

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1The Canadian Department of Immigration moved into a new phase of deportation work in the latter stage of the First World War, with the deliberate and systematic deportation of agitators, activists and radicals. Some of these were people who had not done anything illegal, but who were considered undesirable on the basis of their political beliefs and activities. The threat they posed was not to the people of Canada, but to the vested interests such as big business, exploitative employers, and a government acting on behalf of interest groups. The radicals represented a new target group for deportation. Before, they had been removed on an individual basis, when possible. Now, they were to be dealt with as a group. Looking at the practices of the Department in this period gives insight into what the Department did when there was no legal basis for declaring such a group undesirable. It is important to understand that these people (to whom the Department tended to refer interchangeably as anarchists, agitators, IWW, Bolshevists, and, during the war, enemy aliens) were designated as undesirable not by legislation (as were, for example, immigrants with tuberculosis or venereal disease) but by employer blacklists and complaints, by the surveillance networks of the industrial and Dominion Police, the Royal Northwest Mounted Police (later the Royal Canadian Mounted Police), and U.S. intelligence, as well as by a certain anti-labour agitator tradition in immigration policy.

2Much of the Department’s activity tended to focus on the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), in the early part of this period, making them a convenient illustration for this discussion. Before the Wobs, as they were called, were proscribed by an Order-in-Council passed under the War Measures Act, they were not an illegal organization in Canada. From 1918 to 1922 they were illegal, along with twenty other radical groups. After 1922, when the Justice Department ruled that there was nothing in the IWW constitution that was contrary to the provisions of the Immigration Act, they were declared legal again, insofar as immigration was concerned. In other words, before the period, 1918 to 1922, it was not legal to exclude or deport Wobblies simply because they were IWW members. It was not legal, but it was commonly done by the Department. In some cases there were clear illegalities in the actions of the Wobs, but in other cases, while the real reason for exclusion or deportation was being an IWW member, the nominal legal cause was criminality, for example, or becoming a public charge, or illegal entry. Thus in some cases the Department satisfied the letter, while violating the spirit of the law. In these circumstances, very careful attention was necessary in the preparation of cases. Thus, in order to justify what were shady and unfair, if not illegal, practices, the Department’s documentation of its work became ever more complete and precise, and at the same time, more misleading. Legal reasons were sought that approximated the facts of the case, and the case was carefully made to fit the nominal legal causes for deportation. This active deportation work was carried out at a level of thoroughness that would not be exceeded until the police raids on communists in the early 1930s.

  • 1 Public Archives of Canada (PAC) Record Group (RG) 76, File 900111, see Mayor of Winnipeg to Minist (...)

3Although the Department had earlier tried to deport prominent radicals such as Emma Goldman in 1908, and it seems likely that some of the deportations of East Indians from British Columbia in this period were connected with alleged radical or seditious activity, the rise of Departmental concern over agitators parallels nicely the rise of organizing drives and strikes in Canada by IWW members and other labour radicals. References in the files to the problems of eliminating “agitators” appeared regularly by 1912. The Vancouver Immigration agent, for example, complained that some of these immigrants arrested by the Department (after local police had failed to convict them for vagrancy) were retaining lawyers and fighting deportation. It was in 1912 that the IWW led a major strike against British Columbia railway construction. The strike was multi-ethnic, well organized, and successful enough to upset, more than usual, employers and politicians who demanded that Wobblies and their ilk be deported on account of these activities.1

  • 2 File 563236, Deputy Minister of Justice to Acting Minister of Justice, 6 November 1913. This omiss (...)

4In theory this was not so difficult, as many of these Wobblies were from the United States. Labour organizers and strikers were notoriously liable to arrest on charges of vagrancy, rioting, or assault, because no matter what the law said, striking was regarded by employers and local interests, and often by local police as an activity that should be treated as if it were illegal, reprehensible, and immoral. Yet the actual illegality of the IWW, and of labour organizing, was not so much a fact as it was wishful thinking. For example, the Department of Justice ruled in 1913 that there was not “anything in the Immigration Act which would justify refusing them admission to the country on the grounds of their being labour agitators.”2

  • 3 On the former, see McCormack, Reformers, p. 130; see also D. Bercuson, Fools and Wise Men. The Ris (...)

5These legal niceties crumbled under the wave of anti-radical hostility that became conveniently and inextricably mingled with anti-alien feeling by 1918. There were in effect three currents of repression that came together: attempts to suppress enemy aliens, who might threaten the war effort; attempts to suppress labour agitators, who were blamed for growing labour unrest and militancy as workers became angered by increased exploitation under the guise of the war effort; and finally, attempts to suppress foreign radicals, Bolsheviks, or whatever the current bogey was called. This is not to say that there were no real threats posed by the existence and activities of each group; there probably were. The point is that it was very convenient for employers and the government to see labour unrest, the growth of political and social radicalism, and the increase in militancy in general as an expression of the influence of dangerous aliens, rather than as a response of Canadians to Canadian conditions. From this, “it was a simple step” for those who believed that labour unrest was due to foreign agitation “to proclaim that all strikes were treasonous.” Harsh actions, however repressive, taken against the treasonous in wartime can be justified by the exigencies of national survival. Actions taken against the potentially treasonous were in the same category, justifiable in the hope of nipping treason in the bud before it flowered in a permissive atmosphere. As Laine has pointed out in connection with the Finns, “the repressive measures and oppressive tactics of the Government... were designed to keep the Finnish radicals and their comrades in their place.” Laine has commented that the government used tactics against socialists and other dissidents that would not have been tolerated if used against the general public. Yet the government had traditionally used similar tactics against one segment of that public: immigrants. What the government did to certain groups of immigrants during the war – to enemy aliens and dissenters, to paraphrase American historian William Preston’s study of similar repression in the United States during this period – was different in degree rather than in kind, to what it had done to certain individual immigrants before the war.3

6The question of what the general public would tolerate is a difficult one in connection with deportation. Because public charge deportations, statistically the most frequently cited legal cause, originated in complaints by municipal officials, it is clear that there was little resistance from such officials to the deportation of public charges as long as the procedures were properly carried out. Because deportation hearings were closed administrative affairs, the general public knew little of them anyway. Anyone asking would hear government propaganda from all save a few leftwing groups. Even to suppose that the general public might react negatively to deportation, especially deportation of dissenters, if it knew the whole story, is not sensible. What made it possible for the government to carry out its programme of repression was the “Red scare” climate based on anti-Red hysteria, stirred up by employers, government and the press, but shared by everyday people. If the “general public” refers to everybody except trade union activists, leftists and reformers, and most recent immigrants, then the general public seemed to care little about what the government did to the excluded.

7Perhaps another factor in this question was the nature of the anti-Red repression in Canada. While in the United States there was a good deal of individual, private anti-radical action (by organizations like the Ku Klux Klan), in Canada

  • 4 Bercuson, Fools, p. 99.

the campaign against radicalism and Bolshevism was initiated, orchestrated, and executed by the federal government according to the laws on the books, or created especially for that purpose.4

  • 5 Ibid., pp. 101-3.

8Despite the fact that “very few of the groups kept under government surveillance were actually illegal,” the claim has been made that the government “never exceeded its legal authority” in repressing the radicals, “because it did not have to.” Even the Department of Immigration did not exceed its legal limits, according to this view, although admittedly certain parts of the Immigration Act were in “violation of the spirit of common justice.”5

9This impression, based on claims made by the Department itself, is false. The Department did indeed exceed its strict legal authority, despite its sweeping powers to act against aliens and radicals during the war.

  • 6 PAC MG 26 HI(a) V 104-OC519(1), Militia Department Records, Leonard, St. Catherine’s, to Captain C (...)

10Wartime anti-radical programmes of the Department of Immigration grew out of pre-war practices of dealing with labour agitators. Labour militance was not only a challenge to the establishment but, with the advent of the war and partly, but not entirely, because of its perceived foreign origins, a threat to the state, in the view of many military officials. Lieutenant Colonel R. W. Leonard’s perspective was representative. He saw the IWW (synonymous with labour activism) as a subversive movement whose origins and purposes were alien to Canada. Its dangerous influence was widespread. In Northern Ontario, under the guise of the U.S.-proscribed Western Federation of Miners (now transmogrified into Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers) the IWW had successfully been recruiting not only the “foreign element” but English-speaking workers. There was no doubt that the IWW was foreign, full of “Finns, Polacks, Austrians and Hungarians and some Irish, and I believe it to be a thoroughly disloyal organization. This is borne out by some recent reports of labour troubles in Canada which have been fomented by enemy labourers.”6

  • 7 Ibid., 13 August 1917, and RG 76, File 917093, 4 October 1917.

11Anti-alien paranoia was further heightened by anticipation of anti-conscription activities, by late 1917. Brigadier General Henry Ruttan wrote from Winnipeg to Major General Willoughby G. Gwatkin, the Chief of General Staff, that there were many enemy aliens in the vicinity, “organized and fully under the control of Social Democratic Labor Leaders,” who could quickly turn out 3-4,000 for demonstrations. If this group joined English-and French-speaking anti-conscriptionists under Social Democratic leadership, real problems could result. Ruttan advised increasing the supply of ammunition and maintaining troop levels until conscription was operating smoothly. Dissent from conscription was intolerable. Those who were “fond of talking and acting in a disloyal manner and who offer or incite resistance to conscription should be summarily dealt with.” Similar conclusions were drawn by other military men. The Chief of Staff of the U.S. War Department warned the U.S. Military representative at the British Embassy in Washington that a Canadian IWW member in North Dakota was recruiting his fellows to go to Canada to start anti-conscription riots. His source of information was the U.S. Department of Justice.7

12The Department of Immigration was important in the government’s war against radicals. The Department responded to pleas from various sources to keep the IWW out of Canada, by patrolling usually isolated and unguarded border areas, and increasing and toughening up inspections of incoming immigrants in order to try to detect IWW members. The Department tried to reassure those requesting IWW alerts. Technically, it explained, the Immigration Act did not give it the legal authority to deal with IWW entry attempts, because the “fact that a man belongs to the IWW is not in itself sufficient” to exclude or deport him.

However, there are usually other features connected with the majority of these cases which enable us to deal with them and you may rest assured that the Department is alive to the importance of the situation.

  • 8 File 917093, Scott to Harvey, McCarter, Macdonald and Nesbitt, Cranbrook, British Columbia, 1 May (...)

13The Department was firmly on the side of those who opposed the Wobblies: “I have no sympathy with the IWW movement,” explained Canadian Superintendent of Immigration Scott to an American anti-radical group.8

14Requests for action against the IWW came from the private sector, and from within the government when officials acted in response to appeals from employers and employers’ groups. For instance, the Minister of Labour forwarded letters from Canadian corporations requesting suppression of the IWW and asked Immigration to co-operate. Moreover, the Minister forwarded such appeals to Prime Minister Borden and asked him to instruct the RCMP to help out. The reply to this particular request reveals something about the duration of the anti-radical work of the Department, as well as something about its methods.

  • 9 Ibid., Minister of Labour to Scott, 16 July 1917; Scott to Minister of Labour, 17 July 1917.

For some time past – in fact for years – our officers have been alive to the danger of the IWW movement.... Although it may not always be possible to reject one of these men solely on the ground that he is a member of that organization, yet, there are usually other circumstances... and our inspectors are, as a rule, very careful to do this.9

  • 10 Ibid., Scott to Minister of Labour, 28 July 1918.

15In another instance Scott reassured the Minister of Labour, “I do not think any of our men would knowingly permit a member of the IWW to enter, if there is any way by which he can be rejected.”10

16From the U.S. authorities warnings came also. In one instance the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) told the U.S. Immigration Inspector at an Idaho port to warn his Canadian counterpart of the entry into Canada of a German IWW leader, for the purpose of labour agitation, and perhaps for other reasons. The man was supposed to be Germanborn and a naturalized American citizen. “Although either of these statements may be wrong,” said the FBI, “he is certainly of German extraction and is a good man to watch.” The Department replied,

  • 11 Ibid., 24 July 1917.

I do not know whether it will be possible to reach Lintz under the Immigration Act but I would suggest a real effort in that direction. His name is in itself sufficient cause to pick him up for examination as a suspected enemy subject.11

  • 12 Ibid., Scott to Travelling Inspector for Alberta and British Columbia, 25 July 1917 and 2 August 1 (...)

17Scott told the Canadian inspector to detain Lintz if he could not prove U.S. citizenship. The United States at that time regarded any male aged fourteen years or older who was not a naturalized citizen as an enemy subject, regardless of his other citizenship. “A similar interpretation on our part might be useful in a case like this,” if it were possible, mused Scott. “However, there may be something connected with the manner of his entry, possibly under Subsection 10 of Section 33, which will enable you to deal with him,” advised the Superintendent. The warning against Lintz set off a manhunt by the police, and Bruce Walker, the Commissioner of Immigration in Winnipeg, echoed the determination of his superiors in Ottawa in promising to deal with the man. “As soon as he has been located I shall doubtless find some means of sending him back whence he came.” Unhappily for the forces of law and order, despite an intensive investigation that included the use of an undercover agent who tailed Lintz for several weeks and illegally opened Lintz’s mail, nothing could be found against him before he left legally several months later. Lintz had been carefully shadowed, reported the Mounties, and although he was a “noisy and extreme socialist,” there was no evidence that he was a member of the IWW, nor had he organized for the Wobblies in Canada.12

  • 13 Ibid., 11 August 1917.

18This failure to “get” anything on a man considered undesirable for political reasons was irksome to the Department. There were other cases, often frustrating. The Immigration Commissioner at Winnipeg appealed for more power in August 1914. He wanted to be allowed to take some other course of action than the legal channels of deportation. He had already carried out several arrests, prosecutions, and deportations of Wobblies, and felt that, while normally deportation would be an adequate measure, it was not enough to deal with such “considerable numbers” as there were present in his region. He feared that several of these deports had written to invite all of their friends to come to Canada and make trouble. “When they are known, it is easy of course to reject them,” but the problem was that they could not always be spotted. The official in Winnipeg wanted simply to hand over to the U.S. authorities those Wobblies caught in Canada, without going through the legal procedures of deportation.13

19Superintendent Scott refused to countenance such an arrangement, because there was no procedural machinery to “order these deportations in a peremptory manner.” Instead he suggested that the Winnipeg official continue to use the “strongest endeavours” to keep out the Wobblies, and failing that,

  • 14 Ibid., Scott to Winnipeg Commissioner of Immigration, 17 August 1917, my emphasis.

to arrange for their arrest by our own officers or by the police of any admitted who in any way lay themselves open to arrest, even though their breaches of the law be technical rather than serious.14

20This was more or less what the man in Winnipeg had been doing. Some cases were easier to arrange than others. For instance, the official described to his superiors in Ottawa one case involving the arrest of John Keeting, who had “created an agitation and a disturbance by openly advocating the views of the IWW” while riding on a train. “I had this man arrested” and tried for deportation under Section 41 of the Immigration Act, “relying particularly on these words:” shall by word or act create or attempt to create riot or public disorder in Canada’. “The tactic was successful; Keeting was found guilty, fined and imprisoned, and then deported. This action was at least based on some case in law, however farfetched that law’s interpretation. Others were even less substantial, although equally successful. RCMP and Department of Immigration officers arrested those members of the IWW who got into Canada, and the Department brought charges against them.

  • 15 Ibid., Winnipeg to Ottawa, 16 August 1917; Commissioner of Immigration at Winnipeg to Scott, 18 Se (...)

While our legal action in these cases has not rested upon a very solid foundation, yet we have prevented any serious numbers of the members of this organization from entering... and so have been able to control the action of those who have succeeded in getting through.15

  • 16 Ibid., Vancouver Agent to Scott, 10 April 1918.

21Other actions of the Department were at best questionable. In one instance, the Vancouver agent found two men and a woman, all Canadians, selling leftist literature and newspapers, including the IWW newspaper. The agent explained that because at the present time, such literature was “coming in through the mails... and being sold on the newsstands” quite legally, and because he could do nothing under the Immigration Act since all three were Canadians, he had let them go. But he informed local officials that these three agitators were coming, so that when they approached company towns by boat, they would not be permitted to land.16

  • 17 Ibid., Inspector Jolliffe, Vancouver, to Scott, 3 September 1918, and 5 September 1918.

22In some cases the Department found itself unable to do anything to prevent agitation by particular individuals such as Ernest Lindberg. He had been arrested for vagrancy in Vancouver; the agent wanted to deport him, but Lindberg claimed to be legally landed and domiciled. This was indeed the case; Lindberg had been in Canada for eight years and could not be deported. The Vancouver Immigration office was deeply regretful that they could take no action. “On account of this man’s IWW activities, his deportation if it could have been effected would be very satisfactory to authorities here.”17

  • 18 McCormack, ibid., pp. 149-152.

23By 1918 increased complaints from employers blaming labour unrest on IWW agitation added to official alarm. The government identified the “IWW menace” with “enemy conspiracies... against the war effort.” The IWW were believed to be financed by enemy agents. The Dominion Police established an IWW section (a forerunner of the 1930s’ Red Squads) and spy and police reports identified numbers of “foreigners” who were Wobblies. Although Commissioner Zachary Wood of the Dominion Police did not subscribe to the notion that the IWW posed a real danger, he was in the minority. Borden listened to the hardliners. When he asked Montreal conservative lawyer C. H. Cahan in May 1918 to study the problems of radical elements, Borden had already concluded that labour militancy was part of a Bolshevik conspiracy more dangerous to Canada than were the Germans. Since in Cahan’s view Russians, Finns and Ukrainians should be treated like enemy aliens because they were “bolshies”, he was not particularly troubled by questions of legality or logic.18

  • 19 Militia Department Records, Cahan to Minister of Justice Doherty, 26 September 1918.

24Cahan was the architect of most of the wartime Orders-in-Council squelching formerly legal activities long distasteful to the authorities. His proposal incorporated police (municipal, provincial, and federal) and private interest organizations into a vast central intelligence and enforcement network aimed at detecting and putting down dissent. He was commissioned by Minister Charles Doherty and Deputy Minister Edmund Newcombe of the Department of Justice (admittedly as a result of his own solicitations) to create just such an edifice.19 Cahanֹ’s repressive proposals began to be passed as Orders-in-Council in mid-September 1918. By the end of the month he was installed as Director of Public Safety. (He remained in office until early 1919 when he resigned because his Orwellian measures were not enforced.)

  • 20 RG 24, Vol. 2543 File 2051, 14 October 1918, 16 January 1919. See Ian Angus, Canadian Bolsheviks. (...)

25Cahan’s demand for draconian internal security measures was the logical outcome of official paranoia about links between foreign agitators, labour unrest, political dissent, and treason. Anti-agitator fears were running rampant in officialdom by the fall of 1918. They were fueled by domestic and foreign sources. The most important domestic sources may have been Mountie spy reports, complaints by employers about labour agitation, and rightwing pressure from men in high places. The foreign sources included diplomatic, military and internal security and intelligence officers of British, American, and other Allied governments. Their fears were exacerbated by the failure of the Allied invasion of Russia to put down the Russian Revolution. The view that labour agitators, IWW members or sympathisers and Bolsheviks were synonymous was strongly in evidence. For example the intelligence officer of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Siberia wrote to Washington that certain Russians leaving Vladivostok should be refused U.S. visas or Canadian entry because they were “under strong suspicion of being IWW or Bolshevik agents.” In December 1918 and January 1919 the Canadian government was approaching academics to give anti-Bolshevik lectures as part of a systematic anti-radical campaign. Some members of the academy did not find the government’s proposal acceptable. University of Toronto President Robert Falconer replied that working class discontent was caused by high prices and unemployment, and antiradical propaganda would simply do more harm. But the few liberal (or more sophisticated) holdouts appear to have been the exception. The popular view in government offices was that all of these tendencies were, in the context of the holy crusade of the war, immoral and should be illegal. And illegal they became. As Ian Angus puts it, “the government outlawed the left.”20 Criminalizing dissent made the Department of Immigration’s political deportation work easier, in part because it made it more legitimate.

  • 21 RG 76, File 917093, Scott to Deputy Minister of the Department of Militia and Defence, 6 September (...)

26By comparison with some other government officials and bureaucrats, the Department of Immigration officials seem almost moderate. Nonetheless, they were frustrated by their inability to deal effectively with the increasing danger that they believed was posed by the IWW. Since the early fall of 1918 Superintendent Scott had been exploring various avenues to increase Immigration’s power to act. Scott wanted to have some kind of regulation put into effect that would “give us a ready means of dealing with these people.” He had written to the Department of Justice to ask for help. Scott had received reports from the Department of Defence and other sources, outlining the extent of IWW and other labour activities. He had seen evidence including “correspondence (intercepted no doubt) between agents of the IWW in Chicago, and persons in Vancouver” that indicated that the IWW was a nationwide problem in Canada. “Judging by the names on the list, most of the members in British Columbia are of foreign birth or origin,” he commented. He also compared the “stringent measures being taken in the United States for the suppression of the IWW,” in contrast to his own relative helplessness. There was an “urgent need” now for some regulation to deal with the IWW under the Immigration Act, Scott argued. At present he had no legal power to exclude the IWW from Canada except by rejecting them as persons liable to become public charges, “which in many instances is rather far fetched.” Scott pointed out that under Section 38 of the current Immigration Act the Governor General had the power to prohibit the landing of immigrants of any class. Scott asked the Department of Justice to rule on whether the IWW could properly be “designated as a class.”21

  • 22 Ibid., Deputy Minister of Jutice to Scott, 9 September 1918. Based on F. D. Millar, “Labour and We (...)

27In fact, the Department of Justice was at this time considering repressive legislation to take care of the IWW and “people of this sort.” Order-in-Council PC 2381 banning enemy alien languages was passed in September 1918; it was aimed at the suppression of union and radical literature. Another Order, PC 2384, passed 28 September 1918, outlawed fourteen radical groups (including a couple of Nationalist Chinese, that is, pro-Kuomintang organizations!) including the IWW, various “revolutionary” and social democratic groups most of whom were not English-or French-speaking. Subsequent Orders-in-Council went further: PC 2525, in effect from 11 October 1918 until 19 November 1919, banned strikes and lockouts and established fines and imprisonment for a variety of activities connected with industrial disputes. Copies of these Ordersin-Council were sent by the Chief of Dominion Police Arthur Sherwood to Scott, for distribution to all Immigration officials. These orders, Sherwood explained, were for the purpose of “stamping out unlawful associations... putting a stop to the seditious ravings of members of these Organizations” and excluding their “vile seditious literature.” PC 2384 was rescinded by Order-in-Council 2 April 1919, and after that date the RCMP could no longer prosecute anyone for possession of IWW literature. Prosecution again became possible under amendments to the Criminal Code passed 6 June 1919, permitting not only prosecution, imprisonment, and deportation for possession of literature, but repealing the right of free speech and making membership in a “subversive” group a crime. The penalty for this crime of mere membership could be deportation or up to twenty years’ imprisonment for “sedition”.22

  • 23 On spies see RG 24 Vol. 2544 File 2051, for example 29 April 1919, McLean to Davis (enclosing a th (...)

28It is important to note that the perceived necessity for such measures was justified by such dubious evidence as RCMP spy reports on legitimate dissenting groups. The RCMP had long been using secret agents to spy on labour unions and various other organizations whose existence and activities were not illegal. Commanding officers instructed their subordinates in the intricacies of selecting and operating such agents. Spies were told to send photographs of their suspects if possible. It sometimes was not. Secret Agent 32 complained that his unionists were “suspicious” and “too wise” to be photographed. Since the spring of 1917 the Mounties had had spies in nearly all the trade unions and left groups. These agents sent in reports underlining the idea that socialists, radicals, Bolsheviks, and foreigners were interchangeable terms.23

29These generally held views of the police, RCMP, and government officials (and probably a great number of Canadians) found expression in the drastic amendments to the Criminal Code and the Immigration Act passed by Parliament in June 1919. It is undeniable that these amendments were aimed at the suppression of the Winnipeg General Strike. But they were not an anomaly caused by wartime hysteria. The political deportations of the Department of Immigration were well within the mainstream of official persecution of dissent. And if the Department behaved illegally from time to time, the private view of government officials, as well as of employers representing business interests, would probably have been that the laws were too lax.

  • 24 RG 76 File 961162, “Report on a conference between Ireland and Blair, Canadian Department of Immig (...)

30In this increasing persecution of radicals and “subversive” elements, Canada was following a path well tread by the United States. This was not the result of coincidence, or even of the two countries choosing comparable responses to similar problems; rather, it was a co-ordinated effort. Canadian officials were in touch with their American counterparts and each warned the other of radical incursions, real or imagined. The legislation of each country had similar provisions: a Section of the U.S. 1917 Immigration Act plus a special Immigration Act of 16 October 1918, were “very much along the line of Section 41 of our own Act.” The U.S. and Canadian Acts had much the same “flaws”, from the point of view of deporting subversives, and so in the United States, “a considerable number of alleged anarchists were arrested and deported during the year on grounds other than the charge of anarchy,” just as radicals were deported on grounds other than radicalism in Canada. Gradually more formal lines of communication were developed, and by the end of 1919, the United States officially notified Canada of impending agitator entry attempts and vice versa: the initiator in this formal arrangement was Canada.24

  • 25 Bercuson, Fools and Wise Men, pp. 88, 89; RG 24 Vol. 2543 File 2051, Cahan to General Gwatkin of t (...)

31Some Canadian officials of particularly severe persuasion felt that existing suppression was inadequate. As David Bercuson points out, many military and law enforcement authorities “advocated internment to deal with alien labour unrest.” Any labour disruption came to be seen as “treasonous”. Reactionaries found it easy to treat aliens as scapegoats; surely no real Canadians would be receptive to Bolshevist ideas, and surely no one unreceptive to such ideas would willingly go out on strike. Never a patient man, Cahan had resigned, claiming that he had no support from the government, which was not adequately enforcing the laws against radical propaganda.25

32On the whole, Canadian officials of the Department of Immigration seem to have been satisfied with their own efforts in comparison to those of the U.S. One commented:

  • 26 RG 76 File 917093, Blair to Ireland, 28 November 1919.

I think we have been more successful than the United States in handling the Bolshevik element so far: at least we have not yet had such an exhibition as is now going on at Ellis Island where a considerable number of the anarchist class are under arrest for examination and they refuse to be examined or to give any information about themselves.26

  • 27 Preston, ibid., pp. 216-8.

33The fiasco at Ellis Island was the result of the U.S. Immigration Service’s policy of mass raids and lockups of radicals. The radicals, after coaching by competent lawyers, had refused to give any information or to respond to questions. The authorities could not deport them for lack of evidence. The American officials had become a laughingstock. They responded by changing the regulations to remove the right to counsel before questioning. The credibility and integrity of the U.S. Immigration Department had been damaged.27

34The occasional American farce did not prevent Canadian officials from following with interest American tactics and attempting to winnow useful techniques from U.S. successes. One such attempt concerned the sailing of 248 deports from New York in December 1919. Secretary Blair wrote to the American Commissioner of Immigration, referring to the press reports of these deportation of “anarchists, communists, extremists... on account of their opposition to law and order,” wanting to know how the U.S. had carried it off, and particularly how they had gotten rid of the Russians.

  • 28 File 917093, Blair to Caminetti, 23 December 1919.

We have not so far been able to get rid of our undesirables of this class, particularly those of Russian nationality, while we have not got anything like the number... we would like to get rid of those we have.28

  • 29 File 961162, Blair to Immigration Agent, 18 December 1919. A wartime Orderin-Council ordered the d (...)

35In fact, under the conditions of war, there were several alternative methods of procedure open to the Department. If the prospective deport were of enemy alien origin, an easy solution was to have the person interned, however briefly. In this case the deportation could be carried out “as a matter of course and without any further examination or difficulty.” There was no appeal, no hearing; deportation was automatic. Or, if an alien were caught with any type of arms, he or she could be convicted of violation of the regulation governing the behaviour of aliens, and thus deported automatically under Section 40 (criminality) if the person did not have domicile. It was possible to arrest someone on the grounds of some kind of political “crime” under Section 41, but it was a risky method. If the person turned out to be a member not of a proscribed organization but rather of a borderline one, or if they attempted to defend themselves, the Department of Immigration might find itself in the embarrassing position of “having to put a man on the witness stand without first being able to establish that we have a case against him.” Still, in the case of someone of enemy alien origin, “if it is desired to get rid of him” no matter what the reason, there was one guaranteed method: “the best plan is to have him interned, and then his deportation is very simple.” Deportations which were illegal under the Immigration Act were carried out by this simple expedient.29

  • 30 Ibid., Blair to Colonel Margeson, Pensions Board, Ottawa, 5 January 1920.

36After June 1919, the possibilities were widened by the infamous amendment to Section 41 of the Immigration Act, which defined a prohibited immigrant who could not be legally landed in Canada as anyone interested in overthrowing organized government either in the Empire (at the provincial level in Canada too) or in general, or in destroying property, or promoting riot or public disorder, or belonging to a secret organization trying to control people by threat or blackmail. If someone fell under this Section at any time after 4 May 1919 or even retroactively, “this constitutes evidence that he is still a member of the prohibited classes,” even if this person were not at that time doing anything prohibited.30 The sole exception was someone who was a Canadian citizen by birth or naturalization. British immigrants could not be naturalized (their Canadian citizenship was automatic after the required period here); thus they were subject to this amendment, which caused much outrage.

  • 31 For the blind spot, see ibid.; also see F. D. Millar, “The Winnipeg General Strike, 1919: A Reinte (...)

37The Department had a curious blind spot about British-born radicals. Its officials made statements such as “so far as my experience goes, British-born subjects do not generally side with the classes opposed to continuing authority.” Yet the June 1919 changes were aimed at removing British agitators, particularly those leading the Winnipeg General Strike. The amendments were not successfully used against the British-born in the Winnipeg cases nor, if the Department were to be believed (and it should not be on this point), in other instances. Moreover, provisions added at about the same time to the Citizenship Act provided for “denaturalization” so that naturalized citizens could be stripped of citizenship and then deported. Although denaturalization was possible, it was easier to avoid giving citizenship to radicals in the first place. The Department urged caution in this matter, “with the number of Reds floating about this country, many of whom should be picked up and deported....”31

  • 32 Ibid., Gelley to Blair, 10 January 1920, and Blair to Gelley, 12 January 1920, and passim, January (...)

38Into 1920, the Department continued to respond to the alarms of the police, the RCMP, employers, and American officials about expected incursions of “Reds” into Canada. It reinforced border patrols, intensified inspections, and sent investigators from the Department into reputed trouble spots to search for deportables. In short, it was repression as usual. Yet by this time there was a difference. The beginnings of protest against continuing wartime measures to suppress dissent had appeared in the press and elsewhere. The response of the Department to this challenge was not sympathetic. The Winnipeg Free Press ran an editorial on 6 January 1920 opposing these measures as an arbitrary violation of the right to read and think as one pleased, and so on. Western Commissioner of Immigration Thomas Gelley sent the clipping on to Ottawa with the comment that “It contains some very hot stuff.” Secretary Blair commented rather resignedly, “I am afraid there is a somewhat widespread disposition on the part of the public to discount the need of any further steps to control the element which has revolutionary tendencies.” It was not just the press who were becoming skeptical. A widespread campaign by organized labour bore fruit at this time as well. The Department received dozens of cards urging the repeal of the 1919 Amendments which were a “menace to the freedom of workers” in Canada. The cards gave the numbers of union locals, and were usually signed by members of the executive, most often the President and the Secretary.32

  • 33 Ibid., U.S. Department of Justice to RCMP, 22 January 1920; Commissioner of Immigration Little to (...)

39The liberal ideas of some members of the public had little influence on the activities of the Department. The Red purge was at its height in the United States, Canadian officials still believed there was a menace, and the Department of Immigration continued to behave as if its duty lay in ridding the country of foreign agitators. It is quite clear that the U.S. situation continued to influence the Canadian scene. For example, Canadian Travelling Immigration Inspectors were given copies of a list of questions used by the U.S. Department of Justice to interrogate their “Red raid” prisoners, and were told to use this list as a guide to interrogate suspected “Reds” in Canada. The questions examined not only place of birth, name, employment, citizenship, date and mode of arrival, but also possible affiliation with the Communist Party, names of others likewise affiliated, knowledge of the bylaws, affiliation with other allegedly communist organizations, associates, and bylaws, and a series of questions to establish deportability on other political grounds. Did the prisoner believe in the overthrow “of any [sic] government” by force or violence? in killing public officials? in revolution? anarchy? and so on.33

40A casually selected sample of cases from the Department’s “agitator” file gives a sense of their actions at this time. There was, for instance, Anna Kanasto, who entered by misrepresentation, did not report for inspection when she became an immigrant, and spoke as an organizer for the Finnish Social Democratic Party, thus coming under Section 41 of the Immigration Act and deportable as a radical. The bureaucratic case report masks the real-life events, but some educated guesses are possible. Kanasto may have said she was entering as a visitor, concealing her intended political activities or deciding to become involved only after her arrival. Her change in immigration status may have involved intent, activities, length of stay, or violation of the wartime regulations. She may not have been aware of the legal niceties of her situation. The more arcane points of Immigration regulations were surely not common knowledge among the general public or even among immigrants. The important point in the Kanasto file is the Section 41 liability; the other charges are either preliminary or supportive. The second example is Elle Saborceki, a German national who had arrived in Canada 1 June 1914, and during the war had been associated with enemy subjects. She was allegedly a Communist Party member, a "revolutionist of a pronounced type." Her deportation had been ordered but could not be carried out during the war, so she had been interned and “repatriated” as “a prisoner of war”, 27 February 1920. Saborceki’s “association” could have meant with family members, friends, colleagues; it could have been personal, private, public, political, or all four. Given her nationality and alleged political leanings, it probably was all four. Almost any combination would do to create “crimes” with which she could be charged. Note also that “repatriations” did not appear in the deportation statistics, nor were they governed by the Immigration Act. Once an immigrant was ordered interned, whatever the ostensible cause, she had virtually no recourse and certainly had no appeal rights under the Immigration Act.

  • 34 File 961162, passim, January 1920.

41A third example, David Hirschfield, was a Russian, described as a “tool of others”; after two months in jail for an unspecified but clearly political offence, he had been “brought to his senses.” He had been ordered deported on unspecified grounds, but the deportation was delayed because of problems obtaining his passport. He had been released on $1,000 bond until the paperwork could be completed for his deportation. The fourth example, L. B. Thorp, was an American from Detroit, and allegedly a member of the IWW and the Communist Party Secretary in the Detroit area. His case was in progress at the time of the Department record. Finally, there was Sava Elua, a Russian, arrested under Section 41 and sentenced to two months in jail for possession of forbidden literature. He had been examined for deportation by an Immigration officer acting as a one-man Board of Inquiry, during the time he was in jail. This case too was in progress.34

42There is a wealth of evidence that the systematic persecution of aliens for their political beliefs and activities was part of the work of the Department during the period. Yet this was denied, as, for example, in 1920 in reponse to a question from the British Secretary of State for the Colonies sent to the Governor General of Canada, concerning the alleged “persecution of Russians, in... British Dominions, on account of their political views.” The Department denied that such persecution existed in Canada.

  • 35 Ibid., Acting Deputy Minister of Immigration to Sir Joseph Pope, Undersecretary of State for Exter (...)

So far as I am aware there has been no persecution of Russian citizens in Canada. A number of Russians have been prosecuted for offences under the Immigration Act. Deportation has been ordered in a number of cases. We have 14 of these men detained at New Westminster, British Columbia, pending arrangements for their deportation to Russia.35

  • 36 Record Group 13, Volume 241, File 2321, Pt. Arthur T.L.C. to Department of Justice, 17 September 1 (...)

43Although the Department admitted to holding some Russians in this instance, at other times it had denied such detentions. In September 1919, the Port Arthur, Ontario Trades and Labour Council had protested the deportation of Russian radicals and had asked that these people be allowed to choose the Russian city to which they would be sent. The Director of Internment Operations responded to this request by writing to the Department of Justice that since there were no more Russians interned in Canada, no response was needed. Yet other correspondence revealed that the Department of Immigration had a number of “undesirables and agitators”, the majority of whom were described as Russians, held under Section 41 for political “crimes”, and awaiting deportation. Because the paperwork for Russian deportations was difficult to complete, some had been released on bail, others were being held in hospitals or asylums, and still others were imprisoned at Immigration Department Detention Hospitals (which despite their names were used as prisons) at Vancouver, Winnipeg, and especially at Montreal where the central Detention Hospital was located. The Department did not want these “agitators” to mix with other deports, and the segregated care of these political prisoners was a strain on Departmental resources. The Department had requested the use of an internment camp, and had been told by the Internment Operations Office that a camp was available. The Department’s strategy was to designate such an internment camp as an “immigration station” within the meaning of the Immigration Act, thus making legal the use of an internment camp as a deportation detention centre in which “agitator” deports could be segregated from other prisoners. After the Department of Immigration had the Department of Justice verify the legality of this scheme, it was carried out. The internment camp was designated an “immigration station”, and the Russian and other “agitators” became, legally and statistically, mere detainees for deportation for unspecified offences under the immigration Act, rather than internees or prisoners.36

44The Department could then deny any political persecution of Russians or other immigrants. Technically, their denial was true. Radicals were prosecuted for violations of the Immigration Act. The fact that certain political associations, beliefs or activities were in contravention of the Act was not mentioned in the answer given to the British Secretary of State in 1920 or on other occasions. Although the Department’s answer was true, it was grossly misleading. As long as the Department proscribed certain ideas, then political deportations could be carried out perfectly openly, yet concealed by their very legality.

45And so they were, during the war and into the early 1920s. Indeed there were indications that there may have been a movement within the Department to intensify the work of political deportation by increasing its effectiveness. The Winnipeg agent suggested that the RCMP, who were currently being used to help the Department trace and arrest violators, actually be made Immigration agents so that they could prosecute as well as arrest their victims. The legal position of the Department became more difficult after the War Measures Act lapsed, because political deportations had been much easier under wartime emergency legislation. Moreover, in December 1922 the Department of Justice ruled that the IWW was not an illegal organization, because its constitution did not contravene the relevant section of the Immigration Act. Yet undercover surveillance continued. Despite the fact that the Wobblies were neither legally excludable nor deportable as members of the IWW, the Department continued to reject known Wobblies at the border. That this was deliberate is clear from the files of the Department. As the agent at Winnipeg explained to a subordinate,

  • 37 Record Group 76, File 917093, Assistant Vancouver RCMP Commissioner Wroughton to Vancouver Commiss (...)

Of course, if a man is known as an IWW agitator or organizer, our officers at the boundary would hesitate to admit him, and if such a man is found in Canada, and comes before your notice, he could be treated under 33-7.37

46And even though the Department could no longer legally deal with the IWW as an organization,

  • 38 File 917093, Gelley to RCMP Commanding Officer, Regina, 12 September 1923.

with individual immigrants we can deal, however, under the Immigration Act, and in the present circumstances... persons... entering should be held on reasonable suspicion of entering Canada by misrepresentation. No Boundary Inspector in my district would ever dream of admitting any IWW agitators or IWW organizer.38

  • 39 Ibid., Munroe to Gelley, 30 October 1923, Ottawa to Gelley, 30 October 1923.

47There was also a suggestion that the Department would have liked to have gone even further. In one instance, a Travelling Investigating Officer refrained from taking action against two Wobblies out of fear of hostility from the men’s local supporters, rather than out of any legal fastidiousness. The two men were both Canadian, one by birth, the other by long residence. The former did not come under Department of Immigration jurisdiction under any circumstances; the latter could have been deportable under Section 41 if there had been grounds. The RCMP were very eager to deport the two men but could not prosecute them because they had not broken any laws. The Mounties relied on Immigration to deal with the matter, but the Department could not in any case act against them solely on account of their IWW membership since the Justice ruling. The Travelling Investigating Officer concerned feared that if he had taken any “high handed action”, a situation “uncomfortable” for the Department would have been created. He still hoped that the Department could do something, but cautioned that these cases must be handled in a “very politic way” and the Department must be sure to have “very secure grounds before proceeding.” Eventually the situation proved to be too difficult to pursue and the idea of prosecution was abandoned because there was no legal ground for it and none could be created.39

  • 40 Ibid., Calgary Herald, to Minister of Public Works, 23 January 1924; Minister of Labour to Calgary(...)

48Continued IWW activity in the West resulted in continued requests from employers for the government to do something to remove the radicals. The Department of Immigration was responsive to such requests. In January 1924, for example, the Annual Meeting of the Mountain Lumber Manufacturers’ Association called on the government to “rid the country of agitators.” The Minister of Labour subsequently notified Immigration to keep all agitators out of the country. Immigration asked the Association for further information about aliens “advocating or participating in strike agitation among the lumber camps.” The Vancouver Board of Trade asked the Prime Minister to declare the IWW an illegal organization, and wanted all IWW organizers deported and excluded from the country in the future.40

49Eventually, protest emerged within the Department about the illegality of the methods used by the Department to deal with the IWW. Officer Reid, a stickler for detail, discussed the problem with the British Columbia Immigration Commissioner Jolliffe:

As you are aware, we cannot exclude from Canada a member of the IWW solely because he is a member of that organization, and unless he is an idiot, insane person, criminal or diseased, we can only exclude him if, in the opinion of our officer, he is liable to become a public charge.... This has been done... but it is putting somewhat of a strain on the conscience of our officers.

  • 41 Ibid., 13 March 1924.

50One problem was that “in no case is there any danger of an IWW of any standing admitted to Canada for propaganda purposes liable to become a public charge” because such a person would have money from the organization, and “he usually has brains enough to keep him from breaking any laws” while in Canada. This left officers in an awkward situation. “Judging from the telegrams" and letters from the Department asking British Columbia inspectors to keep out agitators, Reid believed “the situation is not clearly understood” in Ottawa. If it was intended to prevent members of the IWW from entering Canada, then the law should be amended to exclude them on the basis of membership. Reid was not refusing to exclude Wobblies. On the contrary, he explained, “we are always willing to try to stop them from coming.” Yet he feared that present practices connected with deportations could not continue. “To pick them up and arrest and examine them “after they had been legally admitted would” only result in unfavourable criticism... and unless you instruct to the contrary, we will not do so."41

51This may have slowed down activity against the IWW but it did not stop it. Immigration was conciliatory but did not back down. Reid’s superior justified the Department’s position:

There has been... a considerable amount of industrial unrest... either started or kept alive by agitators allegedly operating as IWW officers or delegates.... It is the desire of the Department that men of this type be carefully examined and the Act be strictly applied.

52Clearly what was meant here by “strictly applied” was using any technicality in the Act to keep the Wobblies out. This was shown by the detailed instructions issued, including the admonition to use the “liable to become a public charge” category even if it were not likely to be caused by unemployment, but perhaps “as a result of agitating and fomenting trouble in disturbed industrial areas.” In other words, if these men were fired or jailed because of their organizing activities, they might then become a public charge (any resident of a jail was technically a public charge even if they were later found innocent, and even if they had the money to pay for their keep, because such bills were never tendered). Officers did not need to trouble their conscience, because

  • 42 Ibid., Jolliffe to Reid, 26 March 1924.

it is not intended that our officers should be instructed to exclude members of the IWW (as such)... but it is of course intended that our officers shall intelligently apply the Act.42

  • 43 Ibid., Reid to Vancouver RCMP, 14 May 1923 [sic, but internal evidence dates this letter in 1924].

53Officer Reid of British Columbia continued to seek legal ways to deal with the IWW, writing weeks later that several IWWs had entered as tourists, and that if they took even a temporary job, he would “have some ground on which to take proceedings against them.” He asked the Department if their investigations had found cases such as this. Except for catching the men in some violation of the Act, Reid said, “under the regulations as they exist at present, I have no means by which I can effect the return of these men to the U.S.” 43

  • 44 File 267931, Immigration to Deputy Minister of Justice, 7 August 1924. File 563236, Justice to Imm (...)

54The high point – or perhaps low point is more à propos-of the Department’s persecution of the Wobblies was the badly fumbled attempt to deport Sam Scarlett in 1924. The Department must share the credit for this bumbling with the Department of Justice, for the case rested on a tiny technical point of law, and Justice gave Immigration some bad legal advice. The Vancouver office had been concerned about Scarlett but was hesitant to act against him without good grounds. The Department of Immigration wrote to the Department of Justice to ask if Scarlett were deportable under various sections of the Immigration Act. Justice said yes, and a warrant was sent to Vancouver for Scarlett’s arrest and examination. Scarlett was a forty-three-year-old Scot who had first come to Canada in 1903, and then had entered the United States in 1904. In 1911 he became a member of the IWW. He was convicted of seditious conspiracy in a trial of dubious legality, in Chicago in August 1918 as a result of the Red raids and sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment.44 The sentence was later commuted on the condition that he be deported, in January 1923. Deportation was carried out from New York that April.

  • 45 File 917093, Blair to Minister of Immigration, “Memo: Appeal of Sam Scarlett,” 24 September 1924. (...)

55In August 1923 Sam Scarlett legally entered Canada. He had come as a harvester, but took work as a machinist, claiming that he had arrived in the Prairies between harvests and the other job had come along while he was waiting for the next harvest. Later he worked as a labour organizer in Vancouver where he was arrested. After a hearing in which the Department tried unsuccessfully to show that Scarlett advocated violence and the destruction of property and did not believe in organized government (which would have brought him under Section 41), he was ordered deported under Section 3, subsections (o), (r), and (s) of the Immigration Act. The case rested on the Department of Justice ruling that the latter two subsections applied to Scarlett because he had been found guilty of conspiring against an allied government during the war, and had been deported from an allied country for this conspiracy. Therefore he was a prohibited immigrant who could not have been landed legally when he entered in 1923. It is unclear why subsection (o) was included in the order, since Justice had ruled nearly two years earlier that the IWW did not come under this subsection. The key points in his conviction, however, were the other two subsections; otherwise he was not deportable. Scarlett appealed his conviction, and his attorneys filed a brief arguing that neither the IWW nor Scarlett advocated anything illegal under the Act. The brief did not touch upon what was to be revealed as the real flaw in the case. The problem, as the Department discovered when it asked Justice for advice about the appeal, was that the United States had not been an ally of Canada during the war, but rather an “associated power”. The case of the Department collapsed, and Secretary Blair noted, “In view of this we must sustain the appeal.”45

  • 46 File 917093, Blair’s memo re: the appeal, 24 September 1924 and passim, September 1924.

56Blair may have been relieved. He had expressed qualms about the case: “I think it would have been better if we had not started this at all,” he had said, “because these upheavals usually do more to spread fire than to quench it.” The upheavals to which he referred were a series of protests and demonstrations, well observed by the RCMP. They reported that the IWW did not expect to halt the deportation, but was determined to use it to promote the movement. The Department had received telegrams from a wide variety of British Columbia unions and other labour organizations, as well as from an MLA from that province. As well, in September it received dozens of letters from concerned individuals and organizations.46 The long (and sometimes successful) campaign by the Department to suppress agitators in response to the demands of employers had received a serious blow. The campaign did not stop, but it fizzled. The Department did not lose its interest in eliminating agitators, but it became very cautious.

57Sam Scarlett remained active. A letter from the Immigration Commissioner at Winnipeg in the summer of 1925 indicated that he remained a thorn in the side of the Department. It was a thorn with which the Department was prepared to live, however. The Winnipeg officer’s superior wrote:

  • 47 File 267931, Commissioner Jolliffe, Ottawa, to Winnipeg Division Commissioner, 23 July 1925. See a (...)

While the Department fully appreciates the undesirable activities of Sam Scarlett, yet it is quite evident that no action at the present time can be taken under the provisions of the Immigration Act, the Justice Department having ruled that the case does not come within the provisions of subsections (o), (r), (s) of Section 3 of the Act.... If the activities of Sam Scarlett are not such that he can be arrested and convicted on any charge... it is hardly probable that the Department could successfully take any action against him in the matter of deportation, particularly when there are no grounds other than those upon which he has already been examined. Therefore the Department is not prepared to sanction any action to arrest and examine Sam Scarlett unless he has been convicted of some offence and sentenced to a term of imprisonment in Canada.47

  • 48 File 961162, 7 March 1925. See Kenneth McNaught, “Political Trials and the Canadian Political Trad (...)

58The return to the pre-war status quo took some time. There were numerous attempts to take Section 41 back to its original form as it had been before the June 1919 amendment. In each case, the Senate rejected the attempt, leading Blair to speculate to the Deputy Minister that this would probably not happen until the government had a majority in the Senate. In fact, Section 41 was not returned to its original wording until 1928. Section 98 of the Criminal Code was not repealed until 1937.48

  • 49 File 961162, Blair to Egan, 7 March 1925.

59The Department liked to claim that “no person... so far as I am aware has ever been deported from Canada under the extended authority” of Section 41.49 If this were true – and it is not – it would not have been from lack of trying. Scott had written to the Department of Justice about legal technicalities of a series of Section 41 deportations that he wished to undertake, just before the Section was amended in June 1919. Scott had reported large numbers of cases coming within Section 41, including

those who have been convicted for being in possession of revolutionary or other prohibited literature of an undesirable nature, and of similarly illegal and disloyal acts, and who are shown to or are known to profess disloyal or revolutionary tendencies.

  • 50 Record Group 13, Vol. 237, file 1432, entitled “Deportation of persons coming under Section 41 of (...)

60Scott asked if these could be deported, even though they had acquired domicile, and even though under the Act at that time they were not classified as prohibited immigrants (which would have annulled their domicile). Scott also wanted Justice to confirm that such persons could indeed be deported under Section 41. On 21 July 1919 Scott wrote again to Justice, saying that no reply to his first letter was now necessary, as “the amendments to the Immigration Act have provided the answer to our letter.”50 The answer was “yes”.

  • 51 Record Group 76, File 917093, Winnipeg Commissioner of Immigration to Scott, 5 October 1917, and 1 (...)
  • 52 File 961162, “Comments by the Minister on examination of aliens under Section 41,” 27 April 1920. (...)

61The files of the Department abound with examples of the use of Section 41. Successful deportations under this Section include those of Charles David Rose, Bernard Reed Thompson, and David G. Miller, David Porter Moon, and Fred Schultz, all of whom had entered from the United States in the fall of 1917. They were all card-carrying IWW members, and had “stirred up trouble” by encouraging their fellow workers to strike for higher wages. They were prosecuted under Section 41 for “attempting by word or act to create riot or public disorder.”51 There were also charged under Section 33: entry without proper inspection. A somewhat later example of deportations under Section 41 (as amended in June 1919) was that of two women, one a Finnish Social Democratic Party member and organizer, the other a German Communist Party member.52

62A particularly blatant example of attempted Section 41 deportations was the case of the “Winnipeg Five”, who had been rounded up in the Winnipeg General Strike raids. It was in order to legalize such proposed raids that Section 41 had been amended in June 1919.

  • 53 See Henry Trachtenberg, “The Winnipeg Jewish Community and Politics: The Interwar Years 1919-1939,(...)

63Three of the five “foreigners” rounded up were Jews. The men were charged with seditious conspiracy, told that they would be deported, and taken to Stoney Mountain Prison. Several weeks later they were moved to the Immigration Hall in Winnipeg. Moses Almazov (né Samuel Pearl), Sam Blumenberg and Michael Charitonoff had all been classified as dangerous enemy aliens and for weeks before the raid had been under surveillance by the RCMP. Almazov, a University of Manitoba student in economics and philosophy, had come from Russia in 1913. He was editor of Die Volke Stimme, and a member of the Social Democratic Party and a communist. The RCMP said he was an “active revolutionary plotter.” He was eventually acquitted by a Board of Inquiry and released after a scolding by Magistrate Noble (illegally appointed to the Board by Immigration authorities).53

  • 54 Record Group 13, Vol. 241, File 2241, Deputy Minister of Immigration Cory to Deputy Minister of Ju (...)

64Michael Charitonoff had been charged with attempting to create riot and disorder. The evidence against him was based on his presence at a public meeting in Winnipeg. He had sat on the platform but had not spoken. He had voted in favour of several resolutions which the Mounties said were not in themselves seditious, but had been supported by rather "hot" speeches. His deportation case was based on this flimsy evidence. Charitonoff was ordered deported by the Board of Inquiry. He successfully appealed the decision. The Department of Justice had ruled that although Charitonoff was “well within the meaning of undesirable,” simply voting for these resolutions was not sufficient evidence for Section 41 charges. He would have been acquitted in a court of law.54

  • 55 See Donald Avery, Dangerous Foreigners: European Immigrant Workers and Labour Radicalism in Canada (...)

65Although the Charitonoff case ultimately had turned on legal points of evidence, another factor was the public outcry following the Winnipeg General Strike raids. The government had been too alarmed at the fuss to make the use it had intended of the amended Section 41. The government was forced to resort to other tactics, including the use of other sections of the Immigration Act, to rid themselves of “troublemakers”. The other four of the Winnipeg Five fared well under Section 41. Only one, Schoppelrei, was deported, and that was for illegal entry. Their Board of Inquiry hearings were important in determining the failure of Section 41 as an instrument for automatically deporting political dissidents, as Donald Avery has pointed out. A group arrested in a second raid four days later did not have hearings before a Board of Inquiry, as provided by the Immigration Act. Instead, they were sent to an internment camp on the order of Judge MacDonald, and “secretly deported” at a later date.55 This was, of course, exceeding the letter as well as the spirit of the law. It was not an uncommon excess.

  • 56 Millar, ibid..
  • 57 Bercuson, Fools and Wise Men, p. 101.

66What the government was trying to do in the war period was “to arrest a movement: it was trying to deport a philosophy.”56 Extra-legal methods were appropriate to problems that did not admit of legal solutions. These methods, like so much that had taken place under the auspices of the Department before this time, were indeed, as David Bercuson has pointed out, in “violation of the spirit of common justice.”57

67The political deportations of the war period displayed the sophisticated and systematic bureaucratic techniques of the Department. During this period, the Department managed to remove a whole category of people by applying to them purely administrative proceedings. Deportation’s function as an extension of exclusion was made clear, and so were some lessons on how to manoeuvre around legal limits. For example, they could find other nominal reasons to exclude or deport; use the double bind tactic of excluding those who admitted their affiliations, and deporting for entry by misrepresentation those who concealed them. There was also the post facto technique: once the political undesirable had been identified, it was a matter of finding the legal grounds to fit the case. Before the war, this had been done on an individual, intermittent, and ad hoc basis. Now it was systematic and deliberate.

68Four conclusions may be drawn from the political deportations of the war period. First, that systematic political deportation existed, overtly within the Department, but to a certain extent concealed from liberals and critics and the public in general. The main technique for concealment was the absence of a category called “political deportation” in the statistics on the causes of deportation that appeared in the annual reports of the Department. Second, from the evidence it is clear that the published statistics concealed the real reasons for deportation behind a screen of bureaucratic categories. Nominal categories could be used to remove a person deemed undesirable on other grounds. For instance, a person deported for having tuberculosis most certainly had the disease; but was that the real or only reason for deportation? The question for the Department was not so much “why is this person undesirable,” but rather “for what legal cause can we deport this undesirable person.” The evidence indicates that this method was commonly used for political deportations. Third, the Department deliberately and systematically extended its policy and role of actively searching out deports, by fitting political deportations into existing categories. Sometimes the fit was crude and obvious, other times easy and unquestioned because of wartime hysteria and the new “undesirability” criteria. But once the deportation of political misfits had begun on a large scale, it continued after the wartime reasons and the legal supports for it had disappeared, and indeed until the target group had itself faded away. Bureaucratic categories, practices and excuses had become self-sustaining. Finally, the question of whether the Department threw out a group depended not on the legal status of the group, but on its political status. If legal deportability confirmed the political deportability, as it did for interned enemy aliens, so much the better, but the a priori reason for deporting enemy aliens was political. In the case of the IWW, the Department continued to act against them whether or not the IWW was at a given moment a legal or an illegal organization: the techniques, not the activities, of the Department changed. The law was not a problem for the Department for much of this period, as the law was changed to suit the political needs of the government; not coincidentally, it also suited the administrative needs of the Department in its own war against radicals and agitators.


1 Public Archives of Canada (PAC) Record Group (RG) 76, File 900111, see Mayor of Winnipeg to Minister Oliver, 9 April 1908; Superintendent Scott to Department of Justice, 15 April 1908; Justice to Scott, 4 May 1908. In a memo to the Minister of Immigration, Scott suggested that “we might perhaps debar her on the grounds of insanity if she attempts to come across the boundary.” Oliver decided against this plan; 15 December 1908. See also File 817610, Vancouver Agent to Scott, 15 February 1912. On the strike, see A. R. McCormack, Reformers, Rebels and Revolutionaries. The Western Canadian Radical Movements, 1899-1919, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1979, pp. 106-9. See also I. Abella and D. Millar, eds., The Canadian Worker in the Twentieth Century, Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1978, pp. 59-72.

2 File 563236, Deputy Minister of Justice to Acting Minister of Justice, 6 November 1913. This omission was deliberate; see Minister of Interior Oliver, House of Commons Debates, 1909-10, p. 5814. Canada did not include the provision because it was not effective in the U.S. See also ibid., p. 5870, Calder, on exclusion of alleged anarchists without proper proof of such beliefs.

3 On the former, see McCormack, Reformers, p. 130; see also D. Bercuson, Fools and Wise Men. The Rise and Fall of the One Big Union, Toronto, McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1978, p. 58. On the last, see McCormack, ibid., Bercuson, ibid., and Edward Laine, “Finnish Canadian Radicalism and Canadian Politics: The First Forty Years," in Jorgen Dahlie and Tissa Fernando, eds., Ethnicity, Power and Politics in Canada, Toronto, Methuen, 1981. On the U.S. scene see William Preston, Aliens and Dissenters. Federal Suppression of Radicals, 1903-1933, New York, Harper, 1963. See also Joyce Kornbluth, ed., Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1964, for an account of the Chicago trial, pp. 319-320; for persecution and prison conditions, pp. 320-322; raids, 324-325.

4 Bercuson, Fools, p. 99.

5 Ibid., pp. 101-3.

6 PAC MG 26 HI(a) V 104-OC519(1), Militia Department Records, Leonard, St. Catherine’s, to Captain Coventry, DIO, Camp Borden Ontario, 30 July 1917.

7 Ibid., 13 August 1917, and RG 76, File 917093, 4 October 1917.

8 File 917093, Scott to Harvey, McCarter, Macdonald and Nesbitt, Cranbrook, British Columbia, 1 May 1917; Scott to Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety, Minneapolis, 16 July 1917.

9 Ibid., Minister of Labour to Scott, 16 July 1917; Scott to Minister of Labour, 17 July 1917.

10 Ibid., Scott to Minister of Labour, 28 July 1918.

11 Ibid., 24 July 1917.

12 Ibid., Scott to Travelling Inspector for Alberta and British Columbia, 25 July 1917 and 2 August 1917 and Winnipeg Commissioner of Immigration to Scott, 27 October 1917. RCMP Report on P. Lintz, MacLeod, Alberta, 31 July 1917. See also RCMP Special Agent’s Report of 3 August 1917, for an explicit reference to illegal interception of correspondence.

13 Ibid., 11 August 1917.

14 Ibid., Scott to Winnipeg Commissioner of Immigration, 17 August 1917, my emphasis.

15 Ibid., Winnipeg to Ottawa, 16 August 1917; Commissioner of Immigration at Winnipeg to Scott, 18 September 1917.

16 Ibid., Vancouver Agent to Scott, 10 April 1918.

17 Ibid., Inspector Jolliffe, Vancouver, to Scott, 3 September 1918, and 5 September 1918.

18 McCormack, ibid., pp. 149-152.

19 Militia Department Records, Cahan to Minister of Justice Doherty, 26 September 1918.

20 RG 24, Vol. 2543 File 2051, 14 October 1918, 16 January 1919. See Ian Angus, Canadian Bolsheviks. The Early Years of the Communist Party of Canada, Montreal, Vanguard, 1981, p. 26.

21 RG 76, File 917093, Scott to Deputy Minister of the Department of Militia and Defence, 6 September 1918.

22 Ibid., Deputy Minister of Jutice to Scott, 9 September 1918. Based on F. D. Millar, “Labour and Welfare Law in Ontario, 1867-1977,” np, nd, and Ed Laine, ibid., p. 28. See also File 917093, Scott to Agents, 18 October 1918; Acting Winnipeg Commissioner of Immigration to Scott, 5 June 1919; RCMP to Scott, 3 July 1919.

23 On spies see RG 24 Vol. 2544 File 2051, for example 29 April 1919, McLean to Davis (enclosing a thirteen-page memo on the extent of spying and nature of conclusions); 30 April 1919, McLean to Davis (enclosing Winnipeg detectives’ report on the One Big Union); 3 May 1919, secret memo passed to Lt. Governor of Manitoba, Inspector General for Western Canada, etc. See also RG 18 B2 Vol. 68 File 18, RNWMP Commander to Superintendent Starnes, Winnipeg, 15 February 1919; on secret agents in various unions, see 15, 17, 20, 24, 27February 1919; Secret Agent 32’s memo, 15 April 1919. On generally held views see William Byron, “The Menace of the Alien,” Maclean’s Vol. 32, No. 10, 1919.

24 RG 76 File 961162, “Report on a conference between Ireland and Blair, Canadian Department of Immigration, and United States Commissioner of Immigration Caminetti,” 24 November 1919. File 917093, Percy Reid, Chief Immigration Inspector, to Minister of Immigration, 12 December 1919. See also Blair to Caminetti, 17 December 1919. Ron Adams, “The anti-communist role of the RCMP in the Depression,” Canadian Historical Association, 1978, says he found no evidence the RCMP and the U.S. exchanged intelligence data in the interwar period. Yet Immigration records show that such practices were well established by the end of the First World War. See for example Blair’s memo about preparing an index to list radicals whose names were sent by U.S. authorities. These names were given by Ottawa to Canadian immigration officials at ports of entry: File 961162, 21 June 1920.

25 Bercuson, Fools and Wise Men, pp. 88, 89; RG 24 Vol. 2543 File 2051, Cahan to General Gwatkin of the Militia, 3 January 1919.

26 RG 76 File 917093, Blair to Ireland, 28 November 1919.

27 Preston, ibid., pp. 216-8.

28 File 917093, Blair to Caminetti, 23 December 1919.

29 File 961162, Blair to Immigration Agent, 18 December 1919. A wartime Orderin-Council ordered the deportation of all interned enemy aliens who were “dangerous, hostile or undesirable” under order of the Minister of Justice. (The order applied to those interned at the time the armistice was signed, not to those previously interned.) On this see Calder, House of Commons Debates, 1919, p. 1977. According to Joseph Boudreau, “The Enemy Alien Problem in Canada, 1914-21,” unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of California, 1964, 1,644 Germans, about half from British colonies in the West Indies and elsewhere, and 302’ “Austrians” (i.e., Eastern Europeans) were deported as enemy aliens after the First World War. Some of these were deported because of nationality despite the fact that they were established immigrants. Radicals were particularly liable to deportation by this method, especially after 1919. There were 106 “prisoners’” sent to asylums during the war and 103 subsequently deported. See also Desmond Morton, “Sir William Otter and Internment Operations in Canada during the First World War,” Canadian Historical Review, March 1974. The Department of Immigration said there were over 8,000 still legally classed as internees as of 1 May 1919, 6,130 of whom were paroled, 100 being deported. Over 81,000 were still reporting monthly or quarterly: File 884866, Scott to Calder, 1 May 1919. For illegal deportations see RG 18 A2 Vol. 137 (Comptroller McLean’s Letterbook, 27 February-14 April 1919), letter to Scott discussing Thomas Tasckent’s deportation, 6 March 1919.

30 Ibid., Blair to Colonel Margeson, Pensions Board, Ottawa, 5 January 1920.

31 For the blind spot, see ibid.; also see F. D. Millar, “The Winnipeg General Strike, 1919: A Reinterpretation in the Light of Oral History and Pictorial Evidence,” unpublished M.A. thesis, Carleton University, 1970. Roger Graham claims that the real reason that deportation proceedings were never begun against the 17 June 1919 strikers was that the strike had collapsed. So it was decided by Cabinet to go to the courts for criminal trials under the new Section 97A and 97B. Of course, deportation would have been impossible in some cases; George Armstrong, for example, was Canadian-born. The Criminal Code amendments had been recommended by a special Parliamentary committee on sedition and seditious propaganda, appointed before the Winnipeg Strike started, Graham points out. But the June 1919 changes to both the Criminal Code and Immigration Act were’ “obviously designed” to deal with Winnipeg. Roger Graham, Arthur Meighen, Volume I. The Door of Opportunity, Toronto, Clarke, Irwin, 1960, pp. 242-3. For pertinent correspondence, File 961162, Blair to Margeson, 5 January 1920 and especially 8 October and 24 December 1919; 13, 15, 29 January, 4 February, 28 May, and 2 June 1920. See also B. Roberts, “Shovelling Out the ’Mutinous’: Political Deportation from Canada before 1936,” Labour/Le travail, January 1987. On prevention, see File 961162, Blair to Undersecretary of State Mulvey, 9 January 1920.

32 Ibid., Gelley to Blair, 10 January 1920, and Blair to Gelley, 12 January 1920, and passim, January 1920.

33 Ibid., U.S. Department of Justice to RCMP, 22 January 1920; Commissioner of Immigration Little to Travelling Inspectors, 9 February 1920.

34 File 961162, passim, January 1920.

35 Ibid., Acting Deputy Minister of Immigration to Sir Joseph Pope, Undersecretary of State for External Affairs, 26 May 1920.

36 Record Group 13, Volume 241, File 2321, Pt. Arthur T.L.C. to Department of Justice, 17 September 1919; File 2374, Secretary of Immigration Blair to Acting Deputy Minister of Justice, 11 September 1919 and 23 September 1919.

37 Record Group 76, File 917093, Assistant Vancouver RCMP Commissioner Wroughton to Vancouver Commissioner of Immigration Jolliffe, 11 April 1921; RCMP Superintendent for Manitoba District to RCMP Commissioner, Ottawa, 9 September 1921, for example. See File 817510, Vancouver Agent to Secretary of Immigration, 21 September 1921 and Secretary of Immigration to Winnipeg Commissioner of Immigration, 29 December 1922. See also File 917093, Gelley, Winnipeg, to Travelling Investigating Officer George, Calgary, 13 October 1923; RCMP to Deputy Minister of Immigration, 23 June 1923, warning of IWW activity in Vancouver; Jolliffe of Vancouver, to Gelley of Winnipeg, 6 August 1923, concerning rumours of plans for an IWW organizing drive among wheat harvest workers; RCMP memo to officers in Saskatchewan districts, 5 September 1923; Gelley to RCMP Commanding Officer, Regina, 12 September 1923; memo to Travelling Officer George, 13 October 1923.

38 File 917093, Gelley to RCMP Commanding Officer, Regina, 12 September 1923.

39 Ibid., Munroe to Gelley, 30 October 1923, Ottawa to Gelley, 30 October 1923.

40 Ibid., Calgary Herald, to Minister of Public Works, 23 January 1924; Minister of Labour to Calgary Herald, 23 January 1924; Vancouver Board of Trade to King, 23 February 1924.

41 Ibid., 13 March 1924.

42 Ibid., Jolliffe to Reid, 26 March 1924.

43 Ibid., Reid to Vancouver RCMP, 14 May 1923 [sic, but internal evidence dates this letter in 1924].

44 File 267931, Immigration to Deputy Minister of Justice, 7 August 1924. File 563236, Justice to Immigration, 24 August 1924; Ottawa to Vancouver, 2 September 1924. See also Preston, ibid., pp. 145-51.

45 File 917093, Blair to Minister of Immigration, “Memo: Appeal of Sam Scarlett,” 24 September 1924. File 563236, Acting Minister of Justice to Deputy Minister of Immigration, 24 August 1924. File 917093, Commissioner of Immigration, Winnipeg, to RCMP, Regina, 12 September 1924, and to Minister, “Memo: Appeal of Sam Scarlett,” 24 September 1924, copy of the appeal attached to Blair’s memo. File 961162, Immigration to Justice, 24 September 1924, and Justice to Immigration, 24 September 1924. File 917093, Blair’s pencilled note on margin of letter from Justice to Immigration, 24 September 1924.

46 File 917093, Blair’s memo re: the appeal, 24 September 1924 and passim, September 1924.

47 File 267931, Commissioner Jolliffe, Ottawa, to Winnipeg Division Commissioner, 23 July 1925. See also Donald Avery, “Sam Scarlett,” Canadian Ethnic Studies, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1978.

48 File 961162, 7 March 1925. See Kenneth McNaught, “Political Trials and the Canadian Political Tradition,” University of Toronto Law Review, 1975, p. 151.

49 File 961162, Blair to Egan, 7 March 1925.

50 Record Group 13, Vol. 237, file 1432, entitled “Deportation of persons coming under Section 41 of the Immigration Act,” Scott to Deputy Minister of Justice, 23 May 1919.

51 Record Group 76, File 917093, Winnipeg Commissioner of Immigration to Scott, 5 October 1917, and 11 October 1917.

52 File 961162, “Comments by the Minister on examination of aliens under Section 41,” 27 April 1920. In these cases as well as others, other Sections of the Act may finally have been used on the deportation order, although the charge for which they were examined was political offences, Section 41.

53 See Henry Trachtenberg, “The Winnipeg Jewish Community and Politics: The Interwar Years 1919-1939,” Manitoba Historical and Scientific Society Transactions, Vol 35, 1978/79-1979/80, pp. 119-20, 143. On 1 July 1919 the RCMP raided homes of various Jewish activists including Charitonoff, Boris Daviotkin, Max Tassler, Yude Austin, and Henry Geller. Trachtenberg comments that “many Jews lived under the fear of... possible arrest and deportation,” ibid., p. 120. Almazov later moved to Toronto. Blumenberg was freed on appeal and left Canada, possibly to avoid further deportation attempts. On this see Lyle Dick, “Deportation under the immigration Act and the Canadian Criminal Code, 1919-1936,” unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Manitoba, 1978. Transcripts of the Blumenberg, Almazoff and CharitonofF Boards of Inquiry are in RG 18 Vol. 3314 File HV-1(4), 14 July 1919, 16 July 1919, 16 July, 14 and 15 August 1919, respectively. On the presence of Noble on the Board see RG 76 File 653, Blair to Bruce Walker, 17 June 1926.

54 Record Group 13, Vol. 241, File 2241, Deputy Minister of Immigration Cory to Deputy Minister of Justice, 10 September 1919; memo for Deputy Minister of Justice, 12 September 1919.

55 See Donald Avery, Dangerous Foreigners: European Immigrant Workers and Labour Radicalism in Canada, 1896-1932, Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1979, pp. 85-6. The Schoppelrei case was not as clear cut as the cause for deportation might suggest. He had “illegally entered” by coming in as a recruit for the military forces. According to the record, a recruiting officer had told the men to say they were Canadian-born, but Schoppelrei’s counsel was not allowed to say so at the deportation hearings. Another black mark against Schoppelrei was his refusal to inform on his friends, when asked questions at the Board of Inquiry. See RG 18 HI Vol. 4, 17 July 1919. See also RG 76, File 912971, Murray to Calder, 30 October 1919; as cited by Avery. See also F. D. Millar, “The Winnipeg Strike,” chapter 5.

56 Millar, ibid..

57 Bercuson, Fools and Wise Men, p. 101.

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