Welcome to the C.E.R. restaurant run by Quong Wing. He's a decent, hard-working Canadian who puts in long hours just to keep his head above water. To this end, he hired Mabel Hopham and Nellie Lane - two caucasian women - to work as waitresses. In so doing, he broke the law.
Which law was broken? Chapter 17 of the Statutes of Saskatchewan, 1912.
The Act says no white woman can work in a restaurant, laundry or any other kind of business owned, kept or managed by any "Chinaman". (Quong Wing is a "Chinaman" because he was born in China to Chinese parents. The fact that he's now a Canadian citizen doesn't seem to be worth much.) The Act was designed to promote morality by "protecting" white women from the immoral advances of Chinese immigrants. (There are no laws protecting Chinese women but that shouldn't come as a surprise since Canada's immigration laws don't let Chinese women immigrate to Canada.)
Ever resilient, Quong Wing decided to appeal his conviction. He hired the law firm of MacCraken, Henderson, Greene & Herridge and took his case to court. He argued that:
It may seem strange that he doesn't argue that the law is just plain wrong, or a violation of human rights. But his lawyers know that argument doesn't have a prayer. In 1912, there isn't really such a thing as human rights, and most people don't think twice about a law like this.
Quong Wing loses his argument when he appears before the Supreme Court of Saskatchewan, but he doesn't give up. He takes his case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa.
Can you guess what happened next?
"Indeed, in a piece of legislation alleged to have been promoted in the interests of morality, it would seem a strange thing to find it founded upon a breach of good faith which lies at the root of nearly all morality worth bothering one's head about."
Apparently, discrimination and justice are not opposites in 1914. " What objects or motives may have controlled or induced the passage of the legislation in question I do not know. Once I find its subject matter is not within the power of the Dominion Parliament and is within that of the provincial legislature, I cannot inquire into its policy or justice or into the motives which prompted its passage. But, in the present case, I have no reason to conclude that the legislation is not such as may be defended upon the highest grounds."
Justice Davies, Supreme Court of Canada
Check out R. v. Quong Wing, the actual Supreme Court of Canada Decision