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H. H. Stevens and the Chinese: The Transition to Conservative Government and the Management of Controls on Chinese Immigration to Canada, 1900-1914

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image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

This article uses the political life of H. H. Stevens, a Vancouver businessman, Conservative member of parliament, and anti-Asian activist to examine the nature of the relationship between the institutions of Canadian immigration control and the political and ideological context of the time. It shows how the transition from Liberal to Conservative government after the Canadian election of 1911 provides an opportunity to examine the importance of individual and party choices in the implementation of immigration regulations. It becomes clear that the policies of control were subject to a certain amount of improvisation on the part of those responsible for implementing the system and allowed those who had strong opinions to harden the line against Chinese immigration. Further, the article reveals how differences in Liberal and Conservative attitudes on Chinese immigration are clearly not merely differences in racial outlook, but rather differences in individuals’ material position at home and their political calculations in the larger context of the British Empire.

Affiliations: 1: University of Toronto, Email:


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