'A brake upon the wheel': Frank Oliver and the Creation of the Immigration Act of 1906

K Tony Hollihan

Abstract


As Minister of the Interior from 1905 to 1911, Frank Oliver held a fundamentally different philosophy of immigration to that of his predecessor. While previous immigration legislation had been open door, and focused on economic criteria, Oliver believed in the effectiveness of a closed door policy based primarily on cultural criteria. The Immigration Act of 1906, resting on the twin pillars of selection and restriction, was designed to establish and implement that criteria. The immigration bill was well received by the public, engendered minimal legislative debate, and was passed substantially as it had first been introduced. Oliver had responded to what Canadians perceived was a national need.

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