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‘Police Authority is Necessary’: The Canadian Origins of the Legal Powers to Detain and Deport, 1893-1902

February 6 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

When and why did Canada develop the legal powers to detain and deport immigrants? At the beginning of the twentieth century, Canada did have legal powers authorizing deportations, but the laws lay as inactive dead letters. After a significant American diplomatic effort to establish a continental immigration exclusion program, initially resisted by Canadian corporate and state actors, Canada activated immigration police powers in the summer of 1900. After extensive archival research, this legal history shows that the government endorsed immigration police powers when it appeared that Canada was the destination for thousands of Jewish Roumanian refugees and that the Americans planned to set up extensive border controls along the Canadian-American frontier. From there, Canada quickly developed and enhanced its immigration policing powers and laws to forestall American economic sanctions. This article considers how government, corporate interests, international law, and American interest combined to eventually lead to the passage of a 1902 law that firmly established Canada’s right to arrest, detain, and deport undesirable immigrants.

About the speaker

Simon WallaceSimon Wallace is an immigration detention and deportation defence lawyer who is completing his doctorate at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. His researches immigration law history and how computational methods can be used to advance legal research. His writing has appeared in national and international journals. Simon has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Canada, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, and many administrative tribunals


February 6
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


Hybrid – Zoom and room 142
67 Erb Street West
Waterloo, ON N2L 6C2 Canada
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