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Anglo-conformity

By R.B. Bennett
Leader of the Conservative Party 1927-38, Prime Minister of Canada 1930-1935
House of Commons Debates, June 7, 1928, pp. 3925-7.


Right Honourable Richard Bedford Bennett. . . Read the history of the United States, read what is written in every magazine in that country by thoughtful men, and you will find that the principle of the melting pot has failed; and they are quite apprehensive. Every thoughtful man in the United States, every keen observer, every man who travels, every author, everyone who shapes and moulds public opinion in the universities and in the great foundations-all these are bewailing the fact that uncontrolled immigration has been permitted into that country, to such an extent that there is now in the United States a polyglot population, without any distinctive civilization, and one about which many of them are in great despair . . . it is because we desire to profit by the very lessons we learned there that we are endeavouring to maintain our civilization at that high standard which has made the British civilization the test by which all other civilized nations in modern times are measured . . . 

. . . These people [continental Europeans] have made excellent settlers; they have kept the law; they have prospered and they are proud of Canada, but it cannot be that we must draw upon them to shape our civilization. We must still maintain that measure of British civilization which will enable us to assimilate these people to British institutions, rather than assimilate our civilization to theirs. That is the point; that is all that may be said with respect to it, and it is the point I desire to make at this time. We earnestly and sincerely believe that the civilization which we call the British civilization is the standard by which we must measure our own civilization; we desire to assimilate those whom we bring to this country to that Unemployed demonstration civilization, that standard of living, that regard for morality and law and the institutions of the country and to the ordered and regulated development of this country. That is what we desire, rather than by the introduction of vast and overwhelming numbers of people from other countries to assimilate the British immigrants and the few Canadians who are left to some other civilization. That is what we are endeavouring to do, and that is the reason so much stress is laid upon the British settler, not upon the Englishman as the hon. member for Southeast Grey (Miss Macphail) said, but upon the British settler as indicating that standard of civilization on which we build our institutions and to which we hope to be able to make those who come to us not conform but assimilate, so that they may play the part in it that we ourselves play, that they may realize that the same conditions exist as in days gone by, when the people said "wherever the king's writ ran, there was freedom and liberty of conscience." So everyone who lives under British institutions in that part of the Empire which we call Canada may have freedom and liberty, regard for law and order and a desire for an ordered government of which they and we may well be proud. That I say to my hon. friend is our reason, rather than the reason which he suggested this afternoon.

As far as I can see it is the purpose of all governments to maintain that position; that is the intention of all governments, but we do say that there has been a singular lack of appreciation of that position during recent years by the present government. In various sections of western Canada they have planted colonies from far-off lands, who have settled upon the soil and maintained their own peculiar civilization rather than become assimilated to that British civilization which should prevail in this country, because there has not been a sufficient leavening of it to ensure that result. That is one of the complaints we make . . . 

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