The Ideological Background to Canada’s Immigration

  • William Petersen


In a discussion of Canada’s immigration programme it is very important to distinguish between rationale and rationalization. Seemingly the programme is a balance between Canada’s national needs and the present means of fulfilling them; but both these elements, though usually expressed in rational terms, tend actually to be determined in large Part by a complicated interplay of nonrational group sentiments. The argument that immigration is in the national interest, whether or not it is well founded, can have little appeal in a country that lacks a strong national feeling. The local patriotisms dominant at the time of Confederation have been largely submerged; but under these, couched in geographic, economic, or statistical terms, one can very often discern Particular ethnic or class prejudices. This chapter, then, is intended not as a general historical review of Canada’s immigration but as one focused on the delineation of those values still relevant in setting immigration policy.


Immigration Policy Canadian Society Humanitarian Ground Senate Committee Canadian Manufacturer 
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  1. 1.
    Canada, Senate, Standing Committee on Immigration and Labour, Proceedings, August 1946, pp. 306–10.Google Scholar
  2. 15.
    Cf. Hughes, French Canada in Transition, chapter 2, which summarizes what he calls the pioneer sociological study of French Canada, and Léon Gérin, Le type économique et social des Canadiens (Montreal, 1937).Google Scholar

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© The Macmillan Company of Canada Limited 1968

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  • William Petersen

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