For Labour Day, Remember Two Labour Saints : J.S. Woodsworth and Cesar Chavez

For Labour Day, Remember Two Labour Saints : Canada’s  J.S. Woodsworth and the U.S.’ s Cesar Chavez

Here are some of the major points Woodsworth makes in his book “Strangers Within Our Gates” (1909) :

(1) Canada’s historical traditions have to be preserved. Immigration limits have to be applied on countries whose traditions are very different from Canada’s. Numbers matter. If some ethnic groups enter Canada in large numbers, Canadians have good reason to believe that those groups will impose their views on Canada–with the intention of displacing our traditions.

(2) Canada has to elevate unity to the position of a major national goal. If immigration divides Canada, it is of no use and should be abandoned.

(3) Canada cannot be a dumping ground for the problems (health, criminal, economic, etc.) of other countries. In 1909, immigrants constituted a significantly larger drain on Canada’s charitable institutions, its hospitals, and its jails, than Canadian-born. Immigration cannot be a social assistance programme for the world.

(4) Canada’s immigration policies do not exist to enable cheap-labor contractors and other employers to undermine the wages of Canadian workers. They do not exist to enable transportation companies to profit from the sale of tickets to foreigners nor to enable real estate companies to sell land. The purpose of Immigration policies should be to protect Canadian workers from unfair and unnecessary competition and to allow them to acquire and maintain a decent standard of living.

(5) The experiences of other immigrant-receiving countries (particularly the U.S.) and the studies done by public institutions and individuals in those countries can be used to assist Canada in making important immigration decisions. Since immigration has the potential of having profound effects on Canada, immigration policies have to be based on careful and sensible consideration of the immigration picture, not on anecdotes and shallow thinking.


(1) The American Cesar Chavez, who is remembered as a hero for his legendary work in support of American farm labourers, vigorously opposed illegal immigration into the U.S. from Mexico. Chavez did this because he knew that Mexican labourers, poor as they were, would seriously threaten the economic gains he and his United Farm Workers’ Union had won for American farm labourers.

(2) American writer Steve Sailer says : “In California, only three birthdays are official state holidays: Jesus Christ’s, Martin Luther King’s, and Cesar Chavez’s.” The boycotts of California grapes which he and his followers organized from 1965 and on have become a part of the folklore of all of North America (not just the U.S.) and Chavez himself has become a symbol of the noble union leader.

(3) But, as Chavez succeeded in having farm labourer wages raised significantly, California farm labour contractors–­acting almost like private immigration agents—-fought back by importing farm labourers from Mexico. In response, Chavez and his supporters actually went to the Mexico-U.S. border, patrolled it, and reported illegal immigrants.

(4) The objective of Chavez and his supporters is conveniently ignored today­–especially by “humanitarians” who hypocritically see themselves as morally superior to protectionists who view surplus immigration as a serious economic threat to marginalized American workers.

(5) For a number of reasons, chief among which was the loss of southern border control and the sudden inflow of thousands of illegal immigrants from Mexico in the early 1980’s, all of Chavez’s efforts for farm workers dissolved.

(6) Chavez’s United Farm Workers Union now represents only 2% of all farm workers. Canada’s labour movement, which has frequently complained about the poor wage gains that Canadian workers have made over the past  20+ years, should take careful note of Chavez’s insight that surplus immigration erases all wage gains.