July 5, 1919

L LIB
L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

But there is another

question, and I know that if any of the ladies of my province were elected to this House of Commons- .

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L LIB
L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

-they would certainly no less grace this House than any of their sisters from the other provinces. But this is one of those questions on which there are radical differences of opinion. Sir Wilfrid Laurier very often said that in our province the woman did not seek a franchise because she, unlike His Majesty the King, did really reign and govern in her own house. The people of France are a very enlightened people, and I suppose nobody will deny that they have very advanced views on public questions, and yet

[IMr. Lemieux.]

they have never considered seriously the question of woman suffrage. And it is the same with us in Quebec. Why then should the Government not leave this question of woman suffrage to each province? If Ontario, if the provinces of the West, believe in woman suffrage, I have no objection; but if in Quebec, we do not believe in woman suffra'ge, why not respect the almost unanimous opinion of our province? At all events, as- I stated a moment ago, since we have woman suffrage in our province, since women can be elected to this Parliament, I accept the decision of the majority.

On that other question of the disfranchisement of aliens, this Bill, in my judgment, is most ungenerous and certainly unBritish. When I was a young member of this House, twenty-two years ago, I remember Sir Wilfrid Laurier once moved a resolution, which wag adopted unanimously pledging the support of Canada to the cause of the Uitlanders of the Transvaal and the Orange Free 'State. What was the reason adduced by the then Prime Minister thus to pledge the support of Canada in favour of the Uitlanders? We pledged the support of Canada to the Mother Country, because the Uitlanders, the British subjects of the Transvaal Republic and the Orange Free State were denied their franchise by Paul Kruger. I remember the speeches which were delivered by my good friend the Prime Minister of to-day and several other hon. gentlemen who supported that resolution. How is it that, after having expounded that principle, that every British subject, whether he is born a Briton or not, is entitled to his franchise, should we to-day discard that principle? Why refuse the franchise to our fellowmen who do not speak our language, but who hold in their hand the parchments that were given to them when they became British subjects? The hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Michael Clark) said this morning that the Government should realize that the war is over and should now trust the citizens of Canada. I am not speaking of the aliens of Germa* blood, who came to Canada immediately before the war, but I sa^ that the Government should not refuse the franchise to Scandinavians, to Icelanders. Why should -the Government consider a French woman, married to a British subject less intelligent than an American woman? There are no more intelligent nor more brilliant women in the world than the French women, and the Government is denying them the franchise even though they have married Brit-

ish subjects- The Government is drawing an invidious distinction. I appeal to the gallant Prime Minister of Canada who has just returned from France, who has lived the life of France. I ask him-would- he dare to return to Paris, would he dare return to France, with that blemish on the statute book of Canada?

I appeal to his sense of fairness, and to his chivalry. I tell him that the French woman married 'to a British subject is just as brilliant, intelligent and wise as the American woman married to a British subject. Why should my hon. friend in these days of radical reform stand for privilege and class distinctions, reverting, so to speak, to medieval times when foreigners were only tolerated? We have spread our literature all over Europe and have had otfr agents in every part of the world inviting foreigners to settle in Canada. We have told them that after a few years of residence in this country they would be entitled to a homestead and the privileges of British citizenship. I would not urge that we should give the rights of a fully fledged British subject to men of German blood who came here just before the war, but I say that the men of German blood in Waterloo county, for instance, who came to this country twenty or twenty-five years ago, and those who have settled in the West and are the best immigrants that we can have, should be given their franchise. Let the Government be generous and give them British fair play. I shall resume my seat in the hope that the Prime Minister will think these matters over and give us a franchise which will be truly Canadian in spirit and truly British in ideals.

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L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. S. W. JACOBS (George Etienne Cartier) :

In my opinion this legislation is nothing more or less than midsummer madness. The hot weather we have had for the past few days seems to have affected the Government to that degree that they are prepared to bring down a Bill of this kind. The section to which we particularly object is that making it incumbent upon the wife of a British subject to obtain special naturalization on her own account unless she was born on the North American continent. It is an unheard-of piece of legislation, and I have not yet learned from the Government side why this provision is inserted. I venture to say that we could not find on the statute-books of any other country in the world a declaration that, although a woman may be a British subject, yet for the purpose of voting she is not a British subject. What is the reason for it? It may be remarked . that this is only a temporary measure to take care of five or six vacancies in this House, but I would point out that with one exception all these vacancies are in Eastern Canada, and I venture to express the opinion that outside of the electoral district of Assiniboia there will not be ten people who will be affected by this particular provision. Therefore, why is this legislation being put upon the statute book? I think I know the reason. It is because the Government wish to establish the' principle that they can take away from certain British subjects the right of the franchise, in order to have that principle finally embodied in the Franchise Act which is to be brought down at the next session of Parliament. That 'being the case, it is our duty now to protest in the most vigorous manner against the insertion of this provision in the law. The section would be amusing if it were not so tragic. Just imagine the gentlemen of the Government getting around the Council table and declaring that in the by-elections in Glengarry, Quebec East, South Ontario, Assiniboia, and one or two other electoral districts, the wife of a British subject can vote if she was born in North America, but cannot vote if she wais born in Europe. The position needs only to be put to the House to show how preposterous it is. Why should a person born in Europe not be allowed to vote, when a person born in America is able to vote?

Let me instance a few of the people in North America -who may be able to vote under this legislation. Take the republic of Hayti, for instance, where black rules white-where a white person has about the same privilege as a black person has in the State of Alabama. If a lady from Hayti comes to Glengarry in the next few weeks and marries a Glengarrian she will have t'he right to vote because she was born on the North American continent, but a lady from France or Belgium is not allowed to vote. I distinctly remember an eloquent address delivered by the Prime Minister on the campus of McGill University a few years ago in which he told what Belgium had done for the salvation of civilization. But when it comes to giving the vote to the Belgian lady who marries a Canadian, the Prime Minister cannot see his way towards doing it. Take the republic of Guatemala. We have in the city of Montreal about one hundred and fifty or two hundred citizens of that republic who Were brought here a few years ago. They happen to be of the female sex, and black in colour. They were brought

here to enter service, but many of them find their way to the police courts. I hope that they are not the best type of citizen that Guatemala produces. Under this legislation one of those ladies can go to South Ontario or Quebec East or any other of the electoral districts in which by-elections are to he held, and vote, if married to a British subject, while a lady who was horn in France and is married to a British subject would have no right to vote at all. Legislation of this kind brings the Parliament of Canada into disrepute. We have all heard of the mountain labouring and bringing forth a mouse. We were told in the speech from the Throne that a Franchise Act would be introduced. Apparently this is the Franchise Act over which the Government has been labouring for the last five months.

What pains me particularly is the fact that this legislation should have been put through with the concurrence of gentlemen who at one time formed the vanguard of the Liberal Party. Truly, association has contaminated them. I still think I hear in my ears the thunder tones of the hon. Minister of Public Works when he denounced the War-time Elections Act in 1917 and designated it as a blot on the Statute Books of the country-the most horrible piece of legislation ever enacted in a British country. Why, this legislation goes very much further than that denounced by the Minister of Public Works. Under the War-time Elections Act, a naturalized British subject whose son had gone to the front would have the right to vote not only for himself but his wife also had the same right. She would have the right to vote because of the fact that her son was at the front. Now you are taking away from that lady the right to vote. Why? Because her son has come back from the front, I suppose. That is the only reason. She was able to vote so long as her son was in the trenches of France, but so soon as he comes back there is no necessity for obtaining from her any favour and consequently she is put into a category lower than that of the lady from Guatemala or Hayti. Mr. Speaker, during the last two or three months there has been put upon the statute books legislation in which the line of demarkation has been drawn very tightly between British and non-British subjects. Where there was nothing on the statute books respecting British subjects, we made special enactments dealing with them and separating them from aliens. Only yesterday we created a Board of

pMr. Jacobs.]

Commerce, and, Sir, we have in that Act a clause which says that if a man knows that another person has committed a crime against the Act he cannot denounce the offender to the Board of Commerce if the denunciating party is not a British subject. Did you ever, Sir, in your life hear of any such insane legislation?-I would go so far as to put it in that way. A man is not permitted to denounce a person who has committed a crime because the man who knows of the offence does not happen to be a British subject! Then we have further legislation with regard to British and nonBritish subjects wherein it is declared that a person in order to be within the law in having a weapon concealed in his* house must be a British subject. If he is not a British subject he cannot have a weapon concealed in his' house. It has been said that British fight with their fists and foreigners fight with stilettos. Under this Act we have it declared that the Britisher can now fight with the stiletto and the foreigner must fight with his fists. In the Naturalization Act introduced by the 'Solicitor General the other day we have clauses declaring that before certain residents of this country can become British subjects they must be resident here for a period of over ten years from the date of the termination of the war. But there is a clause-section 8, subsection (b) 2-which declares that this shall not apply if the person "is a member of a race or community known to be opposed to the enemy governments." If he belongs to an enemy race or community he cannot obtain his naturalization in five years. He must wait ten years from the termination of the war. I should like to asik the Government why that is not applied to the Bill now under review. Why do we not simply declare that if the lady who seeks to vote belongs to an enemy nationality she has not the right to vote for ten years? Why extend the prohibition oveT the whole of the female sex in the Dominion of Canada who do not happen to have been born in a British country? I can go on pointing out anomalies here for another hour, but I think I have shown sufficient to the House to make it see that this legislation is not enacted in the interests of the country, and I trust that the Prime Minister will see his way to withdraw this objectionable clause from the Bill before it goes further.

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

(Mr. Speaker,-

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

The Prime Minister i3 replying.

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PRO

John Archibald Maharg

Progressive

Mt. J. A. MAHARG (Maple Creek):

Will that close the debate, Sir?

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UNION
PRO

John Archibald Maharg

Progressive

Mr. MAHARG:

With the permission of the Prime Minister tl shall speak for a moment or two. It is not my intention to enter into a lengthy discussion, but I desire to put my position clearly before the House, as I see it and as I believe this Bill will affect our province. I am more than surprised at the nature of this legislation. I never expected that anything of so drastic a character would emanate from a government in Canada unless, through some catastrophe, we were thrust into another war similar to the one which has just concluded. We have heard very strong language in connection with the War-time Elections Act, but, Mr. Speaker, in my opinion the viciousness of that Act pales into insignificance compared with the present Bill. There may have been excuse for the Wartime Elections Act. We were at war and had subjects of the enemy countries in our midst, and it may have been necessary to use drastic measures. But the war is over now, and we admit that male aliens who were naturalized citizens previous to the war are entitled to the vote. Thereby we admit that they are entitled to full citizenship in the Dominion, and having made that admission we immediately say that their wives and daughters are not entitled to the same privilege. I cannot understand for the life of me where the justification for that comes in. The Bill will apply to a few by-elections, but were it a general Franchise Act, so far as I am concerned the only thing that would let it pass me would be the application of the closure as has been done on different occasions. I could not permit it to go through without opposing it to the very utmost of my ability, both physically and otherwise.

- Some hon. MEMBERS: Oh.

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PRO

John Archibald Maharg

Progressive

Mr. MAHARG:

Hon. members need not misunderstand me. This seems to tickle the palates of some of them, but they will find in different constituencies in Saskatchewan, not only in my own, but in many others, a different view will be taken, and not altogether by persons of enemy alien extraction either. In my opinion we are committing one of the gravest errors in showing this spirit at this particular time. We have heard from the lips of men from all walks of life-and we have heard it in this House repeatedly-that the one great problem before the country now is the unification of the different races in the country. We have been told that we must bring them together in one great homogeneous whole. We hdve probably the most heterogeneous mass in Canada it would be possible to find, and if there is anything we should do, it is to bring this mass together so that we may eventually assimilate the different races and Canadianize them all.

How are you ever going to get a person to submit if right at the start after the war is over, you show such unfairness as is shown under this present Act? I do not wish to take up the time of the House, as you are anxious to close, but I did not want to allow this opportunity to pass without registering my protest against this Act.

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UNION

John Frederick Johnston

Unionist

Mr. J. F. JOHNSTON (Last Mountain):

Mr. Speaker, I feel that I must not allow this opportunity to pass without registering my protest against the clause whereby we disfranchise certain classes of women in this country. In the constituency from which I come, we have not as many of these foreign-born people as there are in some of the other constituencies of the province of Saskatchewan, tout still there are a number, and I want to bear testimony to the good character and qualifications of these people. If I understand this Act correctly, we will disfranchise all women who are the wives and! daughters of foreign-born men other than those horn on the American continent. In connection with floating the Victory Loan in my constituency last year, and 1917, there were no better workers in their own districts than the Norwegian settlers. If we are going to build up a United Canada, this is a very poor way to go about it. These people have done their duty and done it well. Many of the so-called aliens in this country have done their work in connection with the war quite as well as some of our Canadian-horn people. We have another settlement of so-called Austrians in my district. In reality, they are not Austrians because they come from the province of Croatia, and were a conquered people in the kingdom of Austria. I have come into close touch with those people and there is no finer class of people in Canada than some of these settlers. They are entirely in sympathy with the aims of the Dominion of Canada, are conversant with our laws and institutions, and are becoming real Canadians. They left their own country because the conditions did not suit them. They are a very bright, intellectual people, who are anxious to assimilate and become good Canadian citizens-. Their chil-

dren attend the public schools and speak nothing but the English language at these schools. I was reading an account just a few days ago of a school fair or picnic- this was not in my constituency-at which

2,000 children were congregated. It was remarked by those in attendance that even in the excitement of their play, these children used nothing but the English language. The work of assimilation is no small undertaking, and such legislation as we have in this Act does not assist the people of the province of Saskatchewan and other western provinces, who are endeavouring to make good citizens out of these people. I hope the Prime Minister will see his way to do the right thing by these people and assist those of us in the western provinces who are trying to' do our bit in building up a united Canada.

Mr. JOHN A. CURRIE (North Simcoe): Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to detain the House, but I desire to utter a protest against a certain principle embodied in this Bill. The Bill does not matter very much because it will only affect possibly two or three ridings altogether. The remarks of hon. gentlemen opposite, and some hon. gentlemen on this side of the House, surprise me very much. After taking advantage of the War-time Elections Act to get into this House, they turn around and give us to understand that they are so strongly against the War-time Elections Act. It is like a man climbing a ladder and then kicking the ladder from under him. It is a well-known fact that the Var-time Elections Act was brought about oy a condition that existed largely in the West and in the neighbouring province of Quebec, with the result that hon. gentlemen opposite, in the last Parliament took strong ground in opposition to the war. They did not do so at first, but as the elections came near they took strong ground against the war and against our sending men by means of the Military Service Act.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No, no.

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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

I speak by the book and by the speeches which I have listened to in this House. Not only that, but we had rioting and dynamiting going on in Quebec and in the West. In Saskatchewan and Alberta the Germans are being rallied to byelections and were driven to the polls in thousands to vote against the British who were killing their German friends and neighbours in the war. That state was brought about not by the Conservative party but by the Opposition.

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L LIB

William Henry White

Laurier Liberal

Mr. W. H. WHITE:

Would the hon.

gentleman allow me to correct him? I do not think that is true as to Alberta. I know that I heard it about Saskatchewan.

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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

My hon. friend (Mr. W.

H. White) also proved by the speech which he gave to the House to-day that such a condition existed in Alberta. We know that in many of the school sections in these provinces the German language alone was taught and that they were turning Saskatchewan into a little Germany.

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PRO

John Archibald Maharg

Progressive

Mr. MAHARG:

Is the hon. gentleman referring to a Dominion or provincial election?

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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

I am referring to the provincial election in which the hon. member (Mr. Maharg) took part. He was one of the leaders of a party which was very antiBritish in that provincial election.

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PRO

John Archibald Maharg

Progressive

Mr. MAHARG:

I would ask for a retraction of that statement. It is absolutely false from start to finish. I never took part in any provincial election in that province in rriy life, whether anti-British or any other kind.

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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

I will have to accept the hon. gentleman's statement as a matter of courtesy in the House. But there was a provincial election in that province at which they sought office by appealing to the anti-British sentiment of a certain section of the community there. You have 250,000; voters of enemy alien origin in the Western Provinces, and if these hon. gentlemen's views are accepted you will give every one of these men back their votes. At this present moment we have a great deal of discontent in this country. Who has produced the discontent in these Western Provinces? The alien. In the city of Winnipeg who were the men who were shot? They were aliens.

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July 5, 1919