Canadian Liberalism and the Politics of Border Control, 1867-1967
As a liberal democracy built on immigration, Canada has long had a reputation for inclusiveness. Since 9/11, however, this reputation has been clouded by restrictive immigration policies, increased interdiction, and the detention of asylum seekers arriving on Canada’s shores. Moreover, public debate over the arrival of non-citizens -- especially those seeking entry through unofficial channels -- is now often framed within a security discourse that is used to justify a more restrictive approach. These developments are not surprising in the current context, but as Anderson illustrates, they are also nothing new.
Canadian Liberalism and the Politics of Border Control sheds light on the complex history of Canada’s response to immigrants and refugees during its first century -- a century that saw the imposition of the Chinese Head Tax, the turning away of the Komagata Maru, the rejection of Jewish refugees during the interwar period, the internment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War, and the post-war development of a new human rights-based discourse. Framing these and other pivotal moments in the wider context of how the rights of immigrants and refugees have been debated and pursued in Canadian politics, Anderson demonstrates that today’s more restrictive approach reflects traditions deeply embedded within liberal democracies. His insights into Canadian immigration and refugee history offer valuable lessons for understanding the nature of contemporary liberal-democratic control policies.
Anderson’s work adds to the complexity within immigration history. There are several factors including the economy, public opinion, race, class, gender, and political discourse relating to Liberal Nationalism and Liberal Internationalism that shape immigration and refugee law in Canada. An inclusion of how other forms of migrant labour fit within the political debate would provide a more holistic perspective on border control policy in Canada. Ultimately, Anderson’s work expertly deconstructs the myth of restrictive rights in Canada being a purely contemporary phenomenon.
This insightful history of Canadian border control policy shows that the desire to attract valued immigrants and to attend to international obligations to displaced persons has always played havoc with efforts to maintain entry controls. Restrictive policies tend to boomerang, fostering assertions of individual rights and further debate over means and ends. Anderson’s engaging saga of evolving enforcement policy thus helps to contextualize current debates about immigration and the national interest.
Anderson provides an engaging and detailed historical examination of the tensions between immigration control and rights in Canada. This subject is as pertinent today as ever. The intersecting politics of national expansionism and immigration control are astutely excavated from parliamentary debates since 1867 to reveal the conflictual, yet often complementary, nature of the control-rights nexus in liberal democracy.
Introduction: Reconsidering the Control/Rights Nexus
1 The Study of Liberal-Democratic Control over International
2 The Liberal Internationalist Foundations of Canadian Control
3 The Expansion of Liberal Nationalism in Canada (1887-1914)
4 The Domination of Liberal Nationalism in Canada (1914-45)
5 A New Era of Human Rights (1945-52)
6 The Return of Liberal Internationalism in Canada (1952-67)
7 Contemporary Canadian and Comparative Concerns
Notes; Works Cited; Index
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