July 13, 1917

LIB

Michael Clark

Liberal

Mr. MICHAEL CLARK:

I find myself in entire sympathy with the Bill as it stands on this question. Two considerations occur to me that will help us to a rapid decision. In the first place, the number affected as divinity students would be comparatively limited; the loss to the fighting forces would not be very great if we kept all the divinity students at home. I must say that it is strongly present to my mind that in all English-speaking countries the clergy have been held to occupy a special position. The second consideration that arises in that connection is this: That there is no intention, as I understand the Bill, of preventing them from enlisting voluntarily. They have full freedom to go voluntarily, as some of the 'best men in England and Scotland have gone, and have made the supreme sacrifice. But when the matter comes to compelling men to leave the spiritual avocation of the clergy of the community, then I think the sentiment of all English-speaking countries would be in favour of the Bill. From our youth up, we have rightly regarded, and been taught to regard, the clergy as being a special portion of the community dedicated to the most solemn work that can occupy human beings. They baptize us in childhood; they solemnize our marriages;

they console our relatives when we are dying and they say the last rites over our clay. For that reason, as I say, they have always been held in special regard, at least . in the countries that compose our Empire, and I certainly think that to compel them to leave what is the highest avocation that can occupy the minds and energies of men in order to fight would be an act which would not meet with the general approbation of our people.

As to the practical point raised by the Prime Minister in regard to students being used to occupy the position of clergymen who have gone to the front, once a student of divinity has embarked on his course and been given the mark of his calling, it would be a foolish act on the part of this Parliament to use compulsion to make him leave those studies and his high calling for the purpose of serving his country, at the front. For these reasons I endorse very strongly the Bill as it stands.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

I desire to call the attention of the Prime Minister to the case of the medical students. There are a great number of medical students. Many medical students enlisted in the various contingents before completing their studies and went to the war. A number of them were sent back last fall to complete their studies so that they might later on return to the front to engage in work in the medi-oai service. I do not think it is fair to take .any student of .medicine. If you are going to exempt any class of students, you should exempt any student who desires to dedicate his services to the war. When h<- is called out, you should make some arrangement whereby he would, whilst a conscript, be permitted to finish his medical studies in his university, so that he may qualify himself to be of service in the war. Skilled medio'al men are very much needed in the war zone or in the hospitals behind the firing line. The last resources of medical men are being drawn upon, and hundreds of students have been allowed by the British Government and by our Government to return home in order to complete their studies.

So far as divinity students are concerned,

I have no hesitation in agreeing with the remarks of the hon. member for North Perth (Mr. Morphy). I think we have gone far enough in linking up this Parliament to the church. There is no Church and State in this country any more, but we are linking this Parliament up even with divinity students.. Mo=+ divinit.v students

never become clergymen. One-half of the students that I have known that have taken up a divinity course have finished in law or something else, so that whilst I have every deference to the desire of the Prime Minister to grant exemption to divinity students, there are divinity students and divinity students, and it would take us all night to make a distinction between the different classes. What about students of Christian Science, which is considered a form of religion, and various other beliefs? The gate for exemption would be very wide. When I hear of riots and troubles in various cities over this Bill, I find that the people raising most of the row are divinity students who are throwing bricks and other things of that sort. When you are not exempting the farmer, and not even giving an intimation to the 'tribunal that special consideration must be given to the claims of agriculturists-1

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LIB
CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

-it is going too far to say that the tribunals shall not be allowed even to look in upon a divinity student. With all due-deference to the minister in charge of the Bill, I must say that my experience with tribunals of various kinds is that they will hew to the line, and unless you give them: some special intimation as to how you desire their decision, they will decide strictly according to the letter of the law. Whilst this is called a selective measure, there is not in it a single line which indicates that the agriculturist, the munitions maker, the shipbuilder, the man who transports food to the cities-men who are needed if anybody is needed- are to be exempted, and still we go to all the trouble to say that we will exempt a section of the community that, from a purely economic standpoint, is of no use to us. I respect the clergy; I think it is only right that men engaged in the avocation of clergyman should be exempted; but if you exempt divinity students, the div-

5 p.m. inity colleges will Hot be able to hold all the students. It is time that we drew the line somewhere, and if divinity students are to be exempted, we shall have to adopt some method of intimating to the tribunals that the agriculturists will have their claims considered when they come before the tribunals. Fancy a poor farmer's boy who has never been before a tribunal in his life, appearing before one to claim exemption. Who is to speak for him? Nobody. And these tribunals are composed not of farmers but of

professional men, and the professional classes of this country are-constantly saying: Oh, the farmers have not volunteered in sufficient numbers-and they will not let off the farmers. My experience of my county is that the farmer's son has gone to the front more readily than the young man from the town or village, and the farmer is therefore entitled to every consideration. He is giving his share to this war, and he is more entitled to consideration than the divinity student. But more especially is the medical student entitled to consideration, and I think the Prime Minister should insert in the Bill a provision that medical students shall not be conscripted until they get their degrees.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

I suppose it is understood that under paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of section 11, medical students may be exempted.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

They are not specifically exempted by the Bill.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

The remarks made by the hon. member fo-r North Simcoe (Mr. Currie) are very applicable, and it might be satisfactory if the Solicitor General said, as a matter of record, that medical students would be exempted under that paragraph.

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CON
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

All students may apply for exemption under that paragraph.

Paragraph 6 agreed to.

On Schedule; paragraph 7:

Those persons exempted from military service by Order in Council of August 13, 1873, and by Order in Council of December 6, 1898.

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LIB
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

By the terms of each of those Orders m Council, there is specific exemption from military service. The first one refers to the Mennonites, who come from the slopes of the Caucasus in Russia.

Previous to their coming, certain representatives were sent to Canada, and the land was spied out and the conditions discussed. One of the conditions was that if they were to settle in Canada they would be exempt from all farms of military service. Practically similar provisions are inserted in the Order in Council which followed on the trip of inspection by these representatives. The Doukhobors, who came in 1898, were also promised exemp-

tion from military service by specific terms of an Order in Council. It was felt that as tbe honour of the nation was pledged to these people, they should not have to prove their ease before tribunals, and consequently they have been definitely exempted.

Mr. MAiRCIL: Are they very numerous?

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not wish to say

that the Order in Council applies to all of them, but those to whom it does apply make up a substantial number.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Does the Order in Council carry the exemption down through succeeding generations, or is exemption guaranteed only to those who came to Canada under the terms of the original Order in Council?

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The point raised by the hon. member has been in my mind. The Order in Council does not in definite language carry the exemption to succeeding generations at -all. Whether or not it could be contended that was the intention of the Order in Council is a question that,

I think, we should not now determine. We should abide by our contract as it may be interpreted by the tribunals. The question may finally come before the Central Appeal Judge. The Order in Council simply says that these people are exempt from military service. It would appeal to me that the intention of the country was to exempt them as a community. I could scarcely argue before .this House that the intention was simply to exempt the actual .men who came originally, and not their children. However, I do not pretend to give a decision; it is not for me to do so. The Order in Council does not in specific terms exempt the children.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

The Mennonites, when they came to this country, followed the tribal system, living in villages and communities of their own. I suppose those who have adhered to that system will be entitled to' exemption, but that may not be the case with those who have gone to our cities and towns and have been absorbed into our population.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That seems reasonable.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

The Mennonites have been proselytizing all over the country, and have formed churches of their own amongst our Canadians. I have in mind a number of such churches. There are two in my riding formed by Mennonites, none of whom came from the Old Country. I do not think the exemption should be granted to them, just

because it is being granted to those who originally came from Europe. [DOT]

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Exemption will not be granted to all, but simply to those to whom the Order in Council applies.

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CON

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MORPHY:

Only to those who came at the time the Order in Council was passed? '

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That is the way tbe

Order in Council reads. I would not care to take the responsibility of deciding whether it applies to their descendants also.

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July 13, 1917