EXCLUSION OR INCLUSION?:
FEMALE ASIAN MIGRATION IN THE MAKING
OF CANADA AS A WHITE SETTLER NATION
School of Women Studies
Toronto, Ontario M3J-1P3
In this article, I explore the ways in which concerns over nation, `race’, gender and sexuality shaped late nineteenth and early twentieth century debates on whether Canada should exclude or include female migrants from China, Japan, and India into the emerging nation-state. In the late nineteenth century, Canadians began to debate whether to allow female migration from China, Japan and India. The vast majority of those who participated in the debate argued that female migrants from Asia should be excluded, as their exclusion would insure that male migrants from Asia would be rendered as temporary residents. On the other hand, there was a small but vocal minority who argued that female migrants from Asia should be allowed into Canada. As the presence of single male Asian residents raised the specter of inter-racial sexuality, these Canadians suggested that it would be prudent to include female migrants from Asia within the nation-state. Through an examination of government and public documents, I trace Canadian administrative and public debates about female migration from China, Japan and India between 1867 and 1920. These debates raise important questions for scholars who study the relationships between nation, `race’, gender and sexuality. First, it points once again to the importance of gender in constituting the racialised practices of the nation. Second, as most scholars have focused on the exclusionary aspects of nationalism, it complicates our understanding of race, gender and nation by illustrating that racialised politics of nation can lead to not only exclusionary practices, but also inclusionary practices.
EXCLUSION THROUGH INCLUSION: FEMALE ASIAN MIGRATION IN
THE MAKING OF CANADA AS A WHITE SETTLER NATION
In this article, I explore the ways in which concerns over nation, `race’, gender and sexuality shaped late nineteenth and early twentieth century debates on whether Canada should exclude or include female migrants from China, Japan, and India into the emerging nation-state. In the late nineteenth century, Canadiansi began to debate whether to allow female migration from China, Japan and India. The vast majority of those who participated in the debate argued that female migrants from Asia should be excluded, as their exclusion would insure that male migrants from Asia would be rendered as temporary residents. On the other hand, there was a small but vocal minority that argued that female migrants from Asia should be allowed into Canada. As the presence of single male Asian residents raised the specter of inter-racial sexuality, these Canadians suggested that it would be prudent to include female migrants from Asia within the nation-state.
This debate raises interesting questions for scholars who study the relationships between nation, `race’, gender and sexuality. First, it illustrates the economic, social and political forces that have led to the inclusion of Asian male and female migrants into white settler nationalist projects. Second, it demonstrates the ways in which the inclusion of female migrants from Asia was seen as a strategy to figure Canada as a white settler society. As I will argue, during the nation-building period, arguments for the inclusion of Asian female migrants were based on the same white nationalist discourse as were arguments for exclusion. Since much of the feminist literature on nationalist discourses has focused on processes of exclusion, this article offers to complicate our understanding of the way in which the racialised politics of nations shape not only practices of exclusion but also practices of inclusion.
In this article, I trace Canadian administrative and public debates about female migration from China, Japan and India between 1867 and 1920ii. I begin by locating these debates in the emergence of a white settler nationalism in Canada. Drawing on both primary and secondary material, I outline the ways in which the emergence of a Canadian nation led to exclusionary practices, and the ways in which the demands of a capitalist economy led to the inclusion of Asian male migrants in Canada. Next, I discuss the ways in which scholars have conceptually highlighted exclusionary residency, citizenship and immigration policies when exploring the racialised and gendered imaginaries of the nation. I argue that focus on exclusionary practices obscures the economic, political and social forces that led to the inclusion of Asian male and female migrants within the nation-state. Based on my archival research, I explore the forces that have shaped practices of exclusion and inclusion of Asian female migrants into a white settler nationalist project. My main focus, however, is on the debates for the inclusion of female migrants from China, Japan and India. I illustrate the ways in which concerns with the public and private manifestation of `race’, reproduction, sexuality and nation, which had been deployed to exclude women racialised as outsiders, were also drawn on to make the case for the inclusion of female migrants from Asia. I conclude by discussing the ways in which politics of inclusion were tied to new forms of racialised regimes of gender and sexual regulation as well as new forms of domestic and spatial arrangements. As a result, I suggest that late nineteenth and early twentieth century debates of including Asian female migrants represented refined practices of exclusion.
The Canadian Context: White Settler Nationalism And Practices of Exclusion
In 1867, John A. MacDonald, the first prime minister of Canada, articulated the vision of the nation-building project when, in a speech to Parliament, he proclaimed that Canada was "a white man's country". Constructing a white settler nation involved marginalising indigenous people from the emerging nation-state, and continuing to recruit white settlers to occupy the lands appropriated from indigenous peoples (Valverde 1991; Roberts 1979; Perry 1997). In addition, constructing a white settler nation was tied to exclusionary practices, as a set of legal and social practices emerged that marginalised those racialised as `not white’ from the nation-state.
Despite its claim to whiteness, at Confederation (1867), Canada was far from `a white man’s country’, as it had substantial number of Aboriginal, Asian and Black residents. At Confederation, Chinese migrants made up over 40% of the non-indigenous mainland population in British Columbia.iii Of these, there were 52 female Chinese immigrants. As Anderson (1991) notes, in the early days of Chinese migration, these residents were seen as an important part of the colonial project because Asian migration allowed colonial officials to open up new industries as well as to establish their hegemony in British Columbia. For example, in 1848, an editorial in the Colonist claimed that “The Chinese are a benefit to the government. They are industrious and law abiding people. The government should afford them protection” (cited in Anderson, 1991, p. 5). Importantly, at Confederation, Chinese migrants had similar legal rights as `white’ residents.
Shortly after Confederation, attitudes towards Chinese residents began to shift. White settlers, particularly in British Columbia, began to complain that these residents were never `good citizens’, that they hoarded money, evaded taxes and were more likely than whites to create `immorality’. White settlers began to demand the exclusion of Asians. According to the emerging racial politics, the greatest danger posed to the nation was the continued migration from Asia, which was defined as threatening a white nation building project. Newspaper headlines daily proclaimed that an Asian invasion was taking place. For example, editorials such as this in the Victoria Daily Colonist were commonplace:
If they were permitted to come in unlimited numbers, they would in a short time so occupy the land that the white population would be a minority. If British Columbia is not kept 'white’, Canada will become Asiatic (March 1871, p. 9).
By 1870, the British Columbia Legislature had become increasingly concerned that the province would be `overrun with an Asiatic population’. Politicians began to campaign on the promise of introducing anti-Asian legislation. In 1882, Charles Wilson was elected to the legislature on the promise of restricting Chinese immigration, saying, “We must not overlook the fact that we are establishing a white country” (cited in Anderson, 1991, p 49). In 1878, George Walkem was elected as the Premier of British Columbia on the promise of introducing the Chinese Tax Act. It is in this context that migration from Japan and India began. The first recorded migrants from Japan arrived in 1887, and from India in 1908. Almost immediately provincial and federal committees and royal commissions were appointed to study the `problems’ of Japanese and Indian settlement and migration.
Exclusionary practices began by rendering Asian residents ineligible for citizenship and residency. In the first session, in 1872, British Columbia’s provincial legislature passed the Act to Amend the Qualifications and Registration of Voters which precluded Aboriginal and Chinese residents from voting. Subsequent legislation included changes to federal voter registration acts, citizenship and naturalization acts, and the introduction of laws prohibiting Chinese men from entering into certain kinds of occupations (Bolaria and Li, 1988; Anderson, 1991). From 1872 to 1910 successive governments introduced similar differential residency and citizenship policies for Japanese and Indian migrants. These changes transformed the status of Asian male residents from members of the colonial formation to aliens in the emerging national formation (Dua, 1999).
White Nationalism and the Imperatives of Capitalist Development: Contradictions in Exclusionary Policies
While the years between 1867-1920 witnessed the emergence of a number of exclusionary immigration and citizenship policies, implementing these policies was not as straightforward as imagined. While there was considerable consensus that Asian men should not be allowed legal membership in Canada, Canadians were at odds over whether to prevent migration from Asia. Canadian capital, particularly railway and logging companies, argued that given the shortage of labour, Canada required the migration of small numbers of Asian male workers. In contrast, trade unions, white settlers and British Columbian politicians argued that even small numbers of these men would discourage the continued migration of white settlers (see Bolaria and Li, 1988; Andersen, 1991).
Given the demand for labour, the federal government was reluctant to introduce legislation that would totally ban Asian male migration. As a result, between 1867 and 1920, Canadian policies towards migration from Asia were riddled by the contradictory demands of capitalist expansion and a racialised nationalist project. Resolving the contradictions had a distinct racial and gendered character, and the government introduced legislation that was a compromise, moving to restrict the numbers of migrants from Asia. Given that the Canadian government had different legal and political relationships with China, Japan and India, different measures were employed in each case. In 1887, the federal government implemented the Act to Restrict Chinese Immigration, introducing the infamous head tax as a method of restricting Chinese immigration. In 1908, the Canadian government entered into an agreement with the Japanese government in which it agreed to ensure that the numbers of specific kinds of migrants from Japan did not exceed a yearly quota of 400. In 1908, the Canadian government imposed what was called the "continuous journey regulation" to prevent the entry of those from India.
In addition, the federal government moved to ensure that the small number of men who did enter Canada would be positioned as temporary migrants. It is in this context that the Canadian state’s strategy towards the migration of women from China, Japan and India emerged.
The ensuing debates and policies not only illustrate the complex array of forces that have shaped the inclusion of female Asian migrants in white settler societies, but in addition, also illustrate the ways in which inclusionary policies can be constituted through the imperatives of a white settler nationalist project. As importantly, the debates and policies illustrate the ways in which inclusionary practices have been gendered.
Nationalism and Exclusionary and Inclusionary Practices
Notably, feminist and post-colonial scholars have offered powerful explanations of the ways in which nationalist projects become implicated in racialised and gendered exclusionary practices. There are three central ideas insights from this broad set of writings. First, as critical race scholars have illustrated, both metropolitan and colonial projects of nation-building have been premised on a discourse of race, and as a result, the exclusion of those racialised as outsiders has been an intrinsic feature of nationalism (see for examples, Balibar, 1991; Goldberg, Miles, 1989). Second, feminist scholars have argued that `race’ and nation have been constituted by naturalizing certain women as the physical and cultural reproducers of the nation. Thus, private and familial spheres become crucial sites for the social construction of the national identities. As a result, feminist scholars have pointed out that the racialised politics of nationalist projects tied domestic arrangements, family, sexuality and morality to the public order and state (for examples, Yuval-Davis and Anthias, 1989; Valverde, 1991; Ware, 1992; Burton, 1994; Stoler, 1995, 1996, 1997; Chaudhuri and Strobel 1992). Importantly, this body of work has also illustrated that associated with the politics of `race’, gender and nation is the regulation of inter-racial sexuality, as “the fear of miscegenation becomes central to the nationalist discourse” (Yuval-Davis, 1997: 22). Third, focusing on white settler societies such as the United States and Canada, scholars have illustrated the ways in which technologies of migration and citizenship have been fundamental to the creation of racialised nations, space and national identities (Lowe, 1996; Dua, 1999; Mongia, 2003; Mawani, 2003).
While this body of work is rich in illustrating the ways in which nationalist projects and their attendant politics of race, gender and sexuality construct notions of insider/outsider, patterns of exclusion, and have come to differentially position racialised minorities and women within contemporary nation-states, it tells us little of the ways in which these same discourses of `race’ and nation can lead to the inclusion of women racialised as outsiders. Notably there is a small emerging body of work that has begun to address the racialised politics of inclusion. Scholars have pointed to three processes as important in leading to the inclusion of those racialised as outsiders: the imperatives of a capitalist economy, shifting discourses on the relationship of citizens to states, and the activities of Asian migrants.
In Immigrant Acts (1996), Lisa Lowe begins to raise the often overlooked question of the ways in which the demands of a capitalist economy lead to the inclusion of those racialised as outsiders. While important for raising the contradictions between capitalism and nationalist agendas, Lowe assumes that the processes that led to the entry of Asian migrants are always located outside of racialised nationalist imaginaries. In contrast to Lowe, Shah (2001) suggests that inclusionary practices are framed by shifting discourses of the relationship between citizens and states. In a study of public heath policies in San Francisco, Shah argues that in the nineteenth century the state was primarily concerned with regulation, and as a result, public heath policies became a technology through which Asian residents were excluded from the nation (see also Mawani, 2003). In the mid-twentieth century, however, the emergence of discourses of entitlement recast not only the state’s relationship to citizens, but also to racial ideologies. While Shah’s study is important in pointing to the ways in which discourses of state and nation can shift and become inclusionary, he fails to explore the ways in which earlier discourses of nation and state allowed for the inclusion of Asian residents. In discussing the inclusion of Asians into the United States, both Lowe and Shah point to the importance of Asian residents in challenging the construction of the nation and exclusive citizenship policies. As Lowe argues, Asian residents have not only been subject to exclusion but also are agents of political change, cultural expression, and social transformation. However, missing in Shah, and to some extent in Lowe’s study, is an analysis of the ways in which processes of exclusion/inclusion are gendered.
My investigation into Canadian polices and practices towards female migration from China, Japan and India provides an important opportunity to revisit the ways in which racialised and gendered discourses of nation lead to both exclusionary and inclusionary practices, and in turn, how inclusionary practices come to be constituted through the contradictions of exclusionary practices. Through an examination of government and public documents, I trace the emergence of state approaches to female migration from Asia. My investigation draws on three sources of data. The first comprise government documents. Since female migration from China, Japan and India was not recorded in a singular policy statement, but was a position that was implicitly understood and acted upon by government officials, I examine a range of government documents, including parliamentary debates, reports of government commissions on immigration, and immigration records. The documents examined span the period from 1867 to 1920. Second, in order to place the position of state officials in the context of social concerns with migration, race and sexuality, I investigate the coverage of Asian male and female immigration in five Canadian newspapers: the Victoria Daily Colonist, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the Ottawa Citizen, and the Winnipeg Free Standard.iv All of the newspapers are dailies. The main period to be covered was from 1910 to 1920. In addition, the period between 1867-1910 was also selectively covered.v Third, as Asian men launched several court cases which challenged the legality of immigration laws and practices, I also examine the proceeding of these cases.
Regulating Female Asian Migration: Excluding Asian Women To Prevent the Settlement of Asian Men
The Canadian state's approach towards female migration from Asia was located in attempts to prevent the permanent settlement of Asian men. Between 1880 and 1900, government policy-makers argued that while restrictions on entry, residency and citizenship status were all means to impose an alien status, the most effective measure was to prevent the entry of spouses. During this period, successive governments employed various means to restrict the immigration of women from China, Japan and India. Through regulatory policies, similar to those applied to Asian male residents, the inclusion of Asian women into the Canadian national formation came to be defined as dangerous to the racialised nation. This racialised process took place through the gendered tropes of the family, sexuality and morality.
In 1883, facing pressure from British Columbian politicians, white settlers and trade unions to restrict immigration from China, the federal government first began to discuss the question of female Asian migration. In a debate on the proposed restrictions to Chinese immigration, John A. Macdonald introduced to Parliament the policy of restricting the entry of the wives of Chinese men. He pointed out that the pattern of solitary migration offered a solution to the vexing problem of Chinese immigration, as it would ensure the temporary status of Chinese male residents:
... that no permanent immigration of the Chinese people into Canada is to be encouraged as a body of settlers, but under the present system there is no fear of that. The Chinese when they come over to British Columbia, do not bring their families, their wives, with them.... When they make money enough, they return to their own country, China, and take the money with them, and therefore are not permanent settlers.... At any moment when the Legislature of Canada chooses, it can shut down the gate ...those in the country will rapidly disappear. They have not their families with them and leave nobody behind them (Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1883, p. 905).
The same year, the federal government appointed what would be the first in a series of royal commissions on the issue of Chinese migration, the purpose of which was to recommend specific policies. While Anderson (1991) has illustrated while one of the consequences of these commissions was that it offered Canadians an opportunity to racialise Asian men, in addition, they also offered crucial sites for the racialisation of Asian women. In the case of Chinese women, the 1885 Report of the Royal Commission on Chinese Immigration racialised and gendered these women as immoral, allowing the commissioners to legitimate restricting female Chinese migration. The majority of those who testified before the royal commission complained about the gender relations seen to characterize Chinese residents. A common complaint was that the Chinese women who were in Canada worked as prostitutes. As the commissioners stated:
There can be no doubt that one of the causes of the strong feelings against the Chinese is that their immigration consists mostly of unmarried men and prostitutes, and it’s said that the Chinese prostitutes are more injurious to the community than white abandoned women....The Chinese are the only people coming to the continent the great bulk of whose women are prostitutes (Canada, Report, 1885, ixxvii).
These witnesses employed their perceptions of prostitution to racialise Chinese women as possessing a different moral character than that attributed to white women. Baker, a member of Parliament from Victoria, argued:
I think there is sufficient evidence to show that the Chinese women are not, like Caesar's wife above suspicion, and that there exists among the Chinese, both male and female, a very low scale of morality (Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1885, p. 3016).
Tied to the accusation of immorality was the complaint that Chinese men did not migrate with their wives. As the commissioners reported, "Chinese immigration is a bachelor immigration .... He has no wife or family. He performs none of these duties"(Canada, Report, 1885, iv-v). Rather than arguing that policies be developed to promote family settlement (as employed in the cases of white immigrants), both of these social patterns were taken to be evidence of racially-based differences and employed to justify the exclusion of Chinese migrants.
The 1885 Report of Royal Commission began to lay the ground for exclusionary immigration policies directed towards female Chinese migrants. The Report set out what would become the unofficial federal government position on the migration of women from China. As Chapleau, one of the commissioners and the Minister of Immigration, pointed out, limiting the entry of wives offered an important mechanism towards ensuring that residents of Chinese origin did not permanently settle in Canada. Anticipating the argument that Chinese men be encouraged to sponsor their families, Chapleau, drawing on the trope of uncontrolled fertility, noted that "if they came with their women they would settle and what with immigration and their extraordinary fecundity, would soon overrun the country" (Canada, Report, 1885, iv-v). As a result, Chapleau pointed out that the exclusion of Chinese women could be seen to promote morality rather than greater immorality.
In 1885, based on the recommendations contained within this Report, the federal government moved to entrench differential immigration policy for migrants from China. It passed the 1885 Act to Restrict and Regulate Chinese Immigration into Canada, legally defining immigration from China as different than that from Europe, and concomitantly requiring different regulations. The Act stated that Chinese immigration was dangerous to Canada - and required the imposition of a $50.00 tax on each individual to restrict further entry of Chinese migrants. While the Act did not specifically refer to female migrants and children, by not exempting these groups, it contained an unstated policy of discouraging family reunification.
The 1885 Act raised a number of concerns. One was whether women of Chinese descent who were married to white men would be defined as Chinese. Another was whether certain groups, such as merchants, students and wives of Chinese men should be exempt from the tax. In 1887, the House of Commons amended the 1885 Act,. allowing it to differentiate Chinese migrants on the basis of class. Merchants were exempt from the tax, as well as the implicit restrictions in sponsoring their spouses.
In discussing possible amendments, there were those who had noted that the Act discouraged family settlement, and questioned the efficacy of this. A member of the House of Commons raised the question of whether the head tax should be applied to the wives of Chinese residents. Davies, a member of Parliament from Nova Scotia, pointed out that allowing the migration of Chinese women would both solve the problem of prostitution and decrease hostility towards Chinese residents, asking:
whether it was not desirable, in the interests of morality, that married Chinese women should be admitted free of this duty ....The people protest against the introduction of the Chinese because a class of women who are not desirable come; but ... if you adopt the more generous policy and allow the better class of Chinamen to come with their wives, the objections now naturally felt against Chinese immigration would naturally be lessened (Canada, House of Commons. Debates, 1887, p. 642).
In response, John. A. Macdonald pointed out:
The whole point of this measure is to restrict the immigration of the Chinese into British Columbia and into Canada. On the whole it is not considered advantageous to the country that the Chinese should come and settle in Canada, producing a mongrel race .... the objection to the admission of the wives of Chinese immigrants. If that were allowed, not a single immigrant would come over without a wife, and the immorality existing to a very great extent along the Pacific coast would be greatly aggravated in Canada .... I do not think it would be to the advantage of Canada or any other country occupied by Aryans for members of the Mongolian race to become permanent inhabitants of the country (Canada, House of Commons. Debates, 1887, p. 642).
The 1887 Amendment to the Act to Restrict and Regulate Chinese Immigration, while exempting certain groups from the tax, continued to impose a tax on the wives and children of Chinese residents who were not merchants.
As seen in the above passages, reasons for excluding Chinese men and women made reference to the fear of introducing a "mongrel race" as the danger posed by the "assimilation" of Chinese residents into the Canadian body politic. This rhetoric re-introduced an older fear of how Chinese migrants posed a danger to Canada. Chinese women became dangerous not only because of their perceived immorality, but because they posed a danger to the physical reproduction of a `white’ nation. As the editors of the Victoria Daily Colonist pointed out in an editorial entitled "A Serious Problem", Asian women had children:
There are a considerable number of Chinese women in British Columbia, and any one can get the ocular demonstration in the streets of that city that race suicide is not popular among them. A good many Chinese boys and girls are growing up in the community, and in the natural order of things in a very few years the second generation of Canadian-born Chinese will be in evidence....this incident illustrates the problem to which we refer and upon which the proposal in regard to the admission of the wives of Chinamen has a direct bearing. It is a problem that cannot be disposed of by ignoring it, or by any smug assumption of the racial superiority by white people.... What is the place of these people in the community? (March 16, 1897, p. 4).
As noted earlier, in 1908, facing the demands for exclusionary policies, the federal government moved to restrict immigration from Japan and India. As in the case of migration from China, when addressing the question of restricting migration from Japan and India, state officials considered the strategy of preventing the entry of spouses. In case of migration from Japan, the Canadian government approach was to limit numbers, rather than prevent their entry. As mentioned earlier, Canada had entered into The Gentleman's Agreement, where the Japanese government agreed to restrict the numbers emigrating to 400 a year (Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1908). In exchange for regulating the numbers of emigrants, the Japanese government was able to win an important concession: that Japanese male migrants would be allowed to sponsor their wives and children (Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1908, pp. 1230-1231).
In the years following the Agreement, this concession was criticized by members of the opposition and the public. Part of the problem was that the text of the original agreement failed to specify whether the quota of 400 per year included women and children, leading the Japanese government to exceed the quota. In addition to these legal ambiguities, the number of Japanese women entering into Canada often exceeded that of men. Much to the apprehension of Canadian officials, the demographic composition of the Japanese community was very different to that of the Chinese community. Both government officials and the public began to protest that Japanese women were allowed to enter Canada. the Victoria Daily Colonist noted in a front page article entitled "More Japanese Are Coming In":
In the last few years there has been a growing number of Japanese women coming to Canada, which to those opposed to Oriental immigration in all forms is not viewed with enthusiasm (Dec 3, 1910, p. 1).
Again, the concern was that such a policy would encourage the permanent settlement of Japanese men. In 1910, John Nelson, the publisher of a British Columbia newspaper, Vancouver World, in a speech at the Toronto Empire Club, argued that the failure to exclude Japanese women had led to the permanent settlement of Japanese men:
Mr. Nelson pointed out that the Japanese, numbering about 25,000 constituted the greatest racial problem of British Columbia. Comparatively little difficulty was experienced with Sikhs and Chinamen, but most of the Japs had brought their wives along and settled down as permanent residents (Globe and Mail, April, 13, 1910, p. 15).
Restricting immigration from India was a more complex task. Indians, unlike Japanese and most Chinese migrants, were British subjects, and British imperial policies allowed British subjects free movement within the Empire (see Bolaria and Li, 1988; Dua, 1999). Under pressure from the British government to adapt the method of restricting immigration so that it did not appear to violate British imperial policies, in 1907 another royal commission was appointed. McKenzie King, the commissioner in charge of the commission, proposed the Continuous Journey Regulation. This was an order-in-council that stipulated the landing of any immigrant be prohibited unless they had come on a continuous journey from their "native" country (Canada, Revised Statutes, 1910). As the only direct route to Canada from India was offered by the Canadian Pacific Railway, preventing migration from India became a matter of encouraging the CPR to not sell tickets to Indians (Canada, Immigration Documents 536999 (2)).
While this regulation did not specifically refer to female migration, in the ensuing debates it is clear that the government intended to employ the Continuous Journey Regulation to prevent Indian male residents from sponsoring their wives. In 1911, two Indian male residents, Bhagwan Singh and Bhag Singh attempted to sponsor entry of their wives, Kartar Kaur and Harman Kaur. These women came from India from an indirect journey, and on arriving in Canada they were denied entry. Bhagwan Singh and Bhag Singh then filed a court case that challenged the power of the Canadian government to restrict family settlement on the grounds of race. Their case generated national debate, and provided another opportunity for debate on the question of female migration from Asia. Members of Parliament questioned whether the Continuous Journey Regulation applied to female migration:
Mr. Lemieux: has the Member of the Interior given a decision concerning the demands made by Sikhs who have settled in British Columbia? Will the Sikhs be allowed in the future to bring their wives to Canada? (Canada, House of Commons, Debates, Feb 5, 1912, p. 2456).
Despite considerable public support for discouraging family reunification, this solution was a tenuous one. Beginning in 1885, a small but growing number of Canadians had raised the specter of miscegenation. As the numbers of Asian men slowly increased, this fear had grown.