It is interesting to note that no other population, except criminals, subversives and the like, has their immigration status influenced and determined by laws which can be traced back to the mid-Nineteenth Century.
Canadians would not accept immigration legislation affecting people of colour, gays, lesbians, single women or religious groups if this legislation was based on Nineteenth Century laws. But there is no uproar, no protest, and no campaign from the general populace when it comes to the immigration of people with disabilities.
As a result, Canadian immigration legislation continues to deny or restrict immigration opportunities for people with disabilities, as case studies will attest.
By developing this history, it is hoped that readers will address important questions about the ethics of the continued discrimination against potential immigrants with disabilities and the ethics of decision-making processes which devalue the lives of people with disabilities.
The paper commences with an examination of Canada's first immigration legislation, which was developed in 1869, and it ends with an examination of the Immigrant and Refugee Protection Act of 2001.
By examining Canadian immigration legislation through an historical lens, the development of immigration legislation can be traced over time.When asked about the number of Jews that should be permitted into Canada, the Deputy Minister of Immigration, Frederick Blair, is reported to have stated, "None is too many" (Abella & Tropper, 1984).As far as immigration legislation and people with disabilities is concerned, little has changed since the late 19th Century and, although not officially stated, the concept of "none is too many" still applies to people with disabilities attempting to immigrate to Canada.Policies and practices which restrict or eliminate immigration opportunities for people with disabilities raise some interesting and important ethical debates.For example, there is the issue of human rights legislation and the manner in which immigration policies get around this legislation.In addition, there is a record of legislative reform which has recognized that discriminatory practices regarding immigration are unjust and unethical.Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that, as far as immigration legislation is concerned, "ableism" does not have the same credibility as other forms of discrimination, including racism, sexism or homophobia.Roy Hanes, MSW, Ph D Associate Professor of Social Work Carleton University This paper explores the development of Canadian immigration legislation from the mid-Nineteenth Century to the present day.The aim is to show, through an historical lens, how people with disabilities have been and continue to be treated as inferior to nondisabled people when it comes to immigration.In recent decades, provincial, territorial, and federal legislation, which has been developed to end discrimination based on race, gender, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation, has always gone hand-in-hand with legislation to end discrimination toward people with disabilities.All provincial, territorial, as well as federal human rights legislation states that no one can be discriminated against because of his/her race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.