Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Two Reports from BC Legislative Committees in 1879 on Chinese People

I posted a similar legislative committee report yesterday from 1885, here are two from 1879.   The terminology they use about the Chinese is pretty damning especially calling all the women prostitutes.

Your Committee appointed to draft a Report upon the Chinese Question, beg to state that, in the absence of any statistical information on the subject, they have felt some embarrassment in dealing with it.

There are various opinions as to the number of Chinese in the Province, but 6,000 is within the mark.

The acknowledged strong and growing antipathy to their presence in the community is attributable to several causes, of which the following would appear to be the most prominent :—

1st. Their moral and social condition is degraded in the extreme. A large majority of the men are in a state of semi-bondage, if not of absolute slavery, while all the women are prostitutes and are daily bought and sold as such. A state of marriage is unknown amongst them; hence the influence exerted upon society by such wholesale vice cannot be otherwise than highly pernicious, as no attempt is even made at concealment.

2nd. They are also undesirable settlers as they are wholly opposed to any assimilation or amalgamation of races or to becoming a portion of the permanent population of the country. The wealth gradually acquired by them is from time to time transmitted to China, and the Province is impoverished to the extent of and in an inverse ratio to their gains.

3rd. Their system of Coolie labour defies competition, as the low rate of wages paid is insufficient to support ordinary labouring classes, hence the Chinese are gradually monopolizing and controlling many industries which have hitherto afforded employment to the permanent population of the Province. This fact is not alone calculated to drive many valuable settlers elsewhere, but is likely to seriously discourage desirable immigrants
from coming to the Province.

4th. It is well known from experience that slave labour has a degrading effect wherever it exists, as it causes an unconquerable and not unreasonable prejudice on the part of the free members of a community against engaging in any work similar to that performed by the Coolies in their midst.

The great groups of Colonies constituting the Australias and New Zealand, are now unitedly moving the Home Government to aid them in restricting, if not in stopping, the further influx of Chinese to their shores. The Committee would recommend that advantage be taken of this circumstance, and that the Dominion Government be respectfully requested to co-operate with the other Colonies of Her Majesty's Empire, and add its powerful influence with a view of securing the object mutually aimed at, namely the restriction of further Chinese immigration to British Columbia, as well as to the Colonies referred to.

GEO. A. Walkem

Your Committee appointed to consider the question of Chinese Immigration as it affects this Province, and to devise means, if possible, to arrest or materially diminish it, have felt much embarrassment in framing their report, in consequence of the scanty information at their command with respect to the views held and the course taken upon the subject by older communities ; and this embarrassment has rather been increased, than otherwise, by the recent action of the President of the -United States in vetoing an Anti-Chinese measure, passed by Congress in the interests of the neighbouring Pacific States. The measure referred to, as the House is doubtless aware, was not dissimilar in some of its provisions to the Queensland Act, which received the Imperial sanction notwithstanding the existing Treaty between Great Britain and China.

It has, however, been admitted that this Legislature has no power to pass the Queensland Act, as its provisions would interfere with trade and commerce, and thus conflict with the British North America Act, which confers the regulation of that subject upon the Dominion Parliament.

As the Australias are now organizing a combined movement to obtain, if possible, from the Imperial Government such measures of protection against the further influx of Chinese into their country, the time would seem opportune for united or independent action on the part of the Dominion in the same direction.

Your Committee have ascertained that several measures of an .Anti-Chinese tendency, and more or less restrictive in character, have been passed in New Zealand, and in Victoria and other Australian Colonies, but have been disallowed by the Home Government.

It is, therefore, respectfully suggested that an Address to the Dominion Government should be passed by the House, setting forth the baneful effects of the presence of Chinese in our midst, and the necessity of such measures being adopted as will effectually prevent their further immigration to the Province.


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