On June 25, 1941, an Order in Council created a Commissioner of Refugee Camps and moved jurisdiction of the three remaining camps from Defence to Secretary of State. Yet the military refused to cede real control; orders were still to be obeyed, censorship of mail continued, and visitors were strictly controlled. Concessions allowed for the freedom of religious practice, medical inspections, liquor and provisions for drawing up legal documents. These small victories seemed insignificant to the internees, who argued it was time to end internment, not make it more palatable.
The new Commissioner of Refugee Camps was Lieutenant-Colonel Reginald Sydney Walter Fordham, a lawyer from Niagara Falls, who had been a prisoner of war during the First World War. While the Central Committee for Interned Refugees found him more cooperative than his predecessor, Fordham believed that some of the refugees “were by no means innocent.” Administration in the various camps remained characterized by a lack of consistency, regulations were enforced with little flexibility and the refugees were left at the mercy of the camp guards and officers.
The transition to refugee status proved little more than cosmetic. The basic problem of internment – the incarceration of innocent men – remained. On this, Canadian policy-makers seemed immovable. If continued internment was disagreeable to the internees, their presence in Canada was no pleasure to the government either.
A collection of images that relates to Canadian government policy.