July 13, 1917

CON

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MORPHY:

In the western part of

Ontario there are communities of Mennonites in the counties of Waterloo, Huron, the two Perths, and part of Bruce. Many of the children and grandchildren of these men have left the Mennonite church as they grew up and joined some other, possibly the Evangelical Methodist. Where do they stand? The same answer, I suppose?

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not think the Order in Council applies to any Mennonites in Ontario, but to those who came to this country and settled chiefly, if not altogether, in Southern Manitoba; perhaps some went further West. I would say with some deference that the Order in Council *could scarcely be held to apply to any whp left the Mennonite faith, no matter whether they were Mennonites originally or not.

Mr. MoCRANEY: I represent a considerable number of the Mennonites to whom this Order in Council applies. Briefly, their history is, I believe, that they originally lived in Germany and were put under military service by Frederick the Great. On the invitation of Catherine of Russia, about 125 years ago, they removed to tbe neighbourhood of Odessa, in Southern Russia and established themselves in large colonies there. They were allowed to use their own language-they speak Low German-and they grew up enjoying their own customs and living at peace with the Russian Government. Although they speak the German language I find that their sympathies in this wiar are with Russia, because, of the very friendly attitude which the Russian Government had always assumed towards them, and of the way in which their rights had been preserved in that country. About 1873 the Russian Government began to impose military service on the Mennonites, and in consequence they sent a delegation to Canada. I believe this delegation went to southern Manitoba, and, finding conditions satisfactory,

correspondence took place between the Minister of Agriculture and representatives of the Mennonites in which they sat forth that they would like to come to this country if they could be guaranteed exemption from military service. It was because of opposition to military service that they had left Germany in the first place, and also why they wished to leave Russia. So the Order in Council was passed. My Mennonite friends tell me that they are not exempt in Russia to-day; they are not, however, engaged in combatant service, but work with the Red Cross and that sort of thing. Notwithstanding the fact that the Mennonites in this country are exempt from military service, a number of the young men of the Mennonite families in my constituency have volunteered and have lost their lives at the front in the defence of this country.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

Would the Solicitor General be good enough to put on Hansard or lay on the table of the House these Orders in Council, because this question will undoubtedly come up in the enforcement of the Act, and it is very important that the exact terms of the Orders in Council be known?

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I will see that copies of the Orders in Council are laid on the Table. I might add to the remarks of the hon. member for Saskatoon that these communities of Mennonites who are here exempted, including those in his own constituency, have expressed since the war began their very deep appreciation of the fidelity with which the bond given to them has been lived up to, and they have sent down very large sums of money indeed, collected amongst themselves for the Red Cross and other patriotic purposes.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

For what purpose are the words "those persons exempted from military service by Order in Council of August 13th, 1873" inserted? The persons who were exempted from service by the Order in Council in 1873 must, by reason of the lapse of time, not be subject to military service at the present time.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

If the wording of this should be held to include the children, then the children are exempt from military service.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Does not the Government intend to reach a decision on its responsibility or on some other definite responsibility in regard to that matter? This is a question in which the honour of the country is involved, and I should think it is not wise to leave it to the decision of an

inferior tribunal which might be appointed to hear appeals against the call for men. I would respectfully suggest the matter is of sufficient importance that a definite decision should be reached.

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LIB

George Ewan McCraney

Liberal

Mr. McCRANEY:

I hope there will be no question on the part of the Government as to the fact of these Orders in Council including all the members of the Mennonite sect to which the original arrangement applied, and to their children who are connected with the church.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Hon. gentlemen must remember that it is no light thing to exempt any section of the community from liability to military service or to any national service. It has already been done by Orders in Council. I think it is scarcely within the province of the Government to say the extent to which these Orders in Council went, if there is any doubt about it. It would appear to me better to leave the limitation of these Orders in Council to the determination of a competent tribunal. As the Act reads now, it would be for the Central Appeal Judge

who would be a member of the Supreme Court of Canada-to decide whether or not those Orders in Council should be applied to the protection of the children of the persons who came under them. For myself, speaking personally only, I would be disposed to agree with the hon. member for Saskatoon and the leader of the Opposition that the interpretation might well be put on them that they included children so long as those children remained members of a recognized Mennonite or Doukhobor community, holding like faith as to military services.

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LIB
CON
LIB
CON
LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

In my riding we have a sect called the Ornish, who are Mennonites. They are really German Quakers, and they certainly do not believe in fighting. They do not even believe in voting, let alone fighting.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Have you many of them ?

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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

Yes, we have a great number of them, and they are wonderful citizens. They are the best farmers in Canada.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Excepting the Scotchman.

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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

Not even excepting the Scotchman. Those people have been there for a number of yearSj and I was wondering if they would come under clause (f). They certainly conscientiously object to the undertaking of combatant service.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

They will come under clause (f) if they prove their case under it. As I understand, they disbelieve in military service.

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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

Absolutely. If you were to strike them on the right cheek they would turn the left.

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July 13, 1917