One wonders at the simplicity of a nation that hopes to fence itself in safety behind laws that are pure subterfuge. The subterfuge has but added irritation to friction. What was to hinder a direct line of steamships going into operation any day? As a matter of fact, to force the issue, to force the Dominion to declare the status of the Oriental, a Japanese ship early in 1914 did come direct from India with a cargo of angry armed Hindus demanding entrance. Canada refused to relent. The ship lay in harbor for months unable to land its colonists, and a Dominion cruiser patrolled Vancouver water to prevent actual armed conflict. When the final decision ordered the colonists on board deported, knives and rifles were brandished; and Hopkinson, the secret service man employed by British authorities, was openly shot to death a few weeks later in a Vancouver court room by a band of Hindu assassins. “We are glad we did it,” declared the murderers when arrested. Hopkinson himself had come from India and was hated and feared owing to his secret knowledge of revolutionary propaganda among the Vancouver Hindus, who were posing as patriots and British subjects. The fact that many thousands of Sikhs and Hindus had just been hurried across Canada in trains with blinds down to fight for the empire in Europe added tragic complexity to an already impossible situation.
The leaders of the Hindu party in Canada had already realized that more immigration was not advisable till they had stronger backing of public opinion in Canada, and a campaign of publicity was begun from Nova Scotia to the Pacific Coast. Churches, women’s missionary societies, women’s clubs, men’s clubs were addressed by Hindu leaders from one end of Canada to the other. It did not improve the temper of some of these leaders posing in flowing garments of white as mystic saints before audiences of women to know that Hopkinson, the secret agent, was on their trail in the shadow with proofs of criminal records on the part of these same leaders. These criminal records Hopkinson would willingly have exposed had the Imperial government not held his hand. When I was in Vancouver he called to see me and promised me a full exposure of the facts, but before speaking cabled for permission to speak. Permission was flatly refused, and I was told that I was investigating things altogether too deeply. I can see the secret agent’s face yet—as he sat bursting with facts repressed by Imperial order—a solemn, strong, relentless man, sad and savage with the knowledge he could not use. Without Hopkinson’s aid, it was not difficult to get the facts. Canada is a country of party government. One party had just been ousted from power, and another party had just come in. While I was waiting for permission from Ottawa to obtain facts in the open, information came to me voluntarily with proofs through the wife of a former secret agent.