July 5, 1919

UNION
UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

I do not care who the leaders were. They were men like some politicians not very far away from here who are trying to get into office with the assistance of this class of people and who are anxious to stand in with the foreigners. The fault of this Bill is that under it a soldier who has returned after fighting our battles in the war finds that the foreigner next door who did everything he could against the war and to get this country to pull out of it, is given a vote just the same as the soldier is.

I think that the British won this war. I am not ashamed to be a Britisher, and I do not believe in going around the country polishing the shoes of any foreigners. The time has gone by when we should do that. We have realized, and Great Britain has realized, through this war that the too free granting of the franchise and the policy of opening the door to strangers was a policy that did not make for the welfare of the country. Naturalization is a privilege, it is not a right, and never in the history of Great Britain has an alien been allowed the full privileges of citizenship. One would think to hear some hon. members that these foreigners who came in here had exercised the franchise in their own country. The foreigners in the west did not 'have a vote in their own country. They did not make any objection to that at home, why should they make any objection here? It was not until Great Britain defeated their country that they got the right to vote at home.

The principle involved in this Bill of giving a vote to an alien enemy who has become naturalized is a principle that I am strongly opposed to, and I believe that every Canadian who has taken part in this war is strongly opposed to it. For this reason: If you give aliens the full privilege of voting before all the trouble occasioned by this war is settled, and while you have a province like Quebec filled with a national element largely anti-British, you are certainly going to turn this country over to them, and you will not succeed in having this a British country-we might as well speak plainly and say it right here. Hon. gentlemen from the west who have spoken against this Bill got into Parliament by virtue of the War-time Elections Act. Why did they take advantage of that Act if they did not approve of its principle? If I did not approve of the principle contained in that Act I would not want to run as a candidate for this House, yet we find those gentlemen very anxious to get into Parliament, and then they start knbcking the props from under the British Empire when they get here. The facts of the case are simply that we have gone to work and have in this Bill given away the principle underlying the War-time Elections Act. whether it is right or wrong, it is a principle that I am prepared to defend on any platform in this country. I believe that the m^n who fought in this war, and their wives, sisters, brothers and parents, will not approve of turning the future of this country over to the pro-Germans of the west, for

that is what this Bill does. It does not affect matters very much, because the Bill will only apply to two or three by-elections, but I want to tell the Government that if they go to an election in Assiniboia they will find that those aliens will vote against them. It does not matter where you are, if you are a man of strong feelings, your sentiments must naturally be with your own country; that is only human nature. For that reason I do not blame these people at all for doing whatever they could against Great Britain during the war; they were perfectly justified as far as the laws of war are concerned. But for anybody here, for the sake of petty politics, to go down on his knees in the House of Commons and say: "I am so sorry we took the vote from you. We brought you in here, we gave you citizenship, w4 gave you free land, we did everything for you, and now we find you are opposed to the British policy. We are very sorry, but we are going to give you the vote even though you are against that policy." That I am opposed to. When the time comes for another Franchise Act to come up, I hope to be in this House to see that clauses are put in it to prevent alien enemies and those who fought us in the war, and who are 'o-day stirring up trouble among the unions and trying to cause riots and insurrections-I hope I shall be here to prevent those people getting the right to vote, so that we will be able to carry on the business of this country with the help of people who are in sympathy with the aims and objects of the British Empire.

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UNION

John Archibald Campbell

Unionist

Mr. CAMPBELL:

The hon. gentleman referred to certain members who got into Parliament by virtue of the War-time Elections Act. Does he mean that this Act gave those members an undue advantage over their opponents? If not, what does he mean?

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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

I think the hon. gentleman's question is not apropos.

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L LIB
UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

I would say that the War-time Elections Act did not give an unfair advantage, but it enabled people of British blood and those who had sympathy with our war efforts to put men in office who were in sympathy with them, and if these hon. gentlemen from the West had expressed on the hustings the sympathy that they have expressed here to-day, not one of them would have been returned to Parliament.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I am inclined to think that if the Bill had been permitted to go into Committee, Mr. Speaker, a good deal of the misunderstanding -which is manifest in many of the speeches that have been delivered would1 have been avoided. My hon. friend from' George Etienne Cartier (Mr. Jacobs) speaks of this as "unheard of legislation." I shall venture to show in a moment that if this Bill is inspired by us he says, "midsummer madness," that madness must have fully possessed him last session when he sat silent and neither by vote, nor by voice protested against legislation of precisely the same character. Some of the hon. gentleman's language appeared to transcend in the violence of its tone the bounds of reasonable criticism.

'My hon. friend the member for Maison-neuve (Mr. Lemieux) observes that this Bill proceeds to lay unholy hands upon the principle of provincial lists, which is very dear to his heart. If he had put less eloquence and more study into his speech he would have discovered that the principle of provincial lists is directly recognized by this Bill, and that its provisions, apart from that, are merely for the purpose of providing lists where provincial lists are not available. It may not be amiss for me to remind my hon. friend that I have known him in this House when provincial lists were not quite so dear to his heart as they seem to be to-day; and perhaps he can recall the occasion without my reminding him of it. In 1907, after Conservative administration had come into power in Ontario, in Manitoba, and in British Columbia, my hon. friend was very ready to put aside provincial and substitute Dominion lists, and with no such safeguards as this Bill contains. So the enthusiasm, of my hon. friend with regard to provincial lists seems to vary from time to time as occasion may demand. His determination to uphold provincial lists is very keen to-day; it was not quite so keen in the spring of 1907.

Let me allude to one or two other matters that have been mentioned. My hon, friend the member for Victoria, Alta. (Mr. White), has read a number of affidavits. I do not propose to discuss them. The reading of affidavits is not really very helpful in settling the principle of a Bill, which is always under consideration in the debate on the second reading. Let me, however, remark to him that the evils which he mentions are cured by this Bill, if I understand it correctly, and I am afraid my hon friend has not given such attention to its provi-

[Mr. Ourrie.J

sions as would have been helpful to him in discussing the second reading.

The law as it existed in Alberta and Saskatchewan for many years is preserved in this Bill. That law was passed with his npprqbation and received his support, I understand. More than that, under this Bill, there are to be no tied ballots, although if I mistake not my hon. friend is a strong supporter of the Government of Alberta, which preserves a System of tied ballots in that province. So that I do not find very much merit or very much substance in the criticism which my hon. friend has offered to this Bill,

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L LIB

William Henry White

Laurier Liberal

Mr. W. H. WHITE:

I explained that until 1917 we had never had any instances of enumerators and others taking upon themselves the powers which they did take and refusing to allow people to vote. I said that at the present time I was not in favour of the appointment of partisan returning officers, who were responsible for these abuses.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

My hon. friend seems to have been very well satisfied with that law for a very long period when his party appointed the returning officer; his difficulty, I understand, arose only in recent years.

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L LIB

William Henry White

Laurier Liberal

Mr. W. H. WHITE:

Exactly.

Sir ROBERT BORDE Well, I really do not know how much [DOT]importance we ought to attach to such a viewpoint. Perhaps some other people may have been very much dissatisfied with the operation of the Act during the period when he was satisfied with it, and they may be more disposed than he is to regard its present operation as satisfactory.

The member for Antigonish and Guysbor-ough (Mr. J. H. Sinclair) spoke of this Bill as being a great surprise. I did not intend that it should be a great surprise; on the contrary I have personally had very little to do with the preparation of the Bill. I asked some of my friends on this side of the House to get in touch with hon. members on the other side and endeavour to ascertain their views as to some reasonable provision of a temporary character for byelections during a certain period, until we should have a general Election Act. I am informed that that has been done and that the provision of this Bill have been well known to my hon. friend for several days; probably for nearly a week. Therefore his suggestion that he is taken by surprise does not command very much merit.

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L LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. J. H. SINCLAIR:

I may say that I saw the Bill yesterday for the first time. But I was not complaining of that at all. I did not complain that I had not had time to study the Bill; I was referring to the fact that the Bill had been introduced so late in the session that other hon. members had not had an opportunity of studying it.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I suppose other members are quite capable of speaking for themselves; it does not devolve upon my hon. friend to speak for every one in the House. As a matter of fact. I am informed by the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Car-vell) that the hon. gentlemen spent two hours the day before yesterday, not yesterday, in discussing the provisions of this Bill.

My hon. friend objects to this Bill because, he asserts, partisan officers are to be appointed. I should like to point out to him provisions to be found on page 11 of the Bill, under which a judicial selection committee is to be established for the purpose of appointing revisers. These officers are to be selected by an impartial judicial tribunal. My hon. friend will, perhaps, remember that there has been a pretty strong but unsuccessful agitation in Nova Scotia for a quarter of a century that appeals from the decisions of the officers who prepare the lists in the first instance should be to judicial tribunals and not to the sheriffs. My hon. friend has never felt aggrieved by the fact that that agitation has been unsuccessful; but he is very much aggrieved by the provisions of this Bill. Where is his constituency? I venture to affirm that there never was a Franchise Act presented to any Parliament by a Government of this Dominion or of any province of Canada that was fairer than the Bill now presented to the House. It is the result of a conference which I brought about for the purpose of avoiding controversy and in order to meet as far as possible the wishes of hon. gentlemen on the other side; but it has been received in such a way by some hon. gentlemen as to be rather discouraging any such effort in the future.

With regard to one provision of this Bill which has been very much criticised, I should like to make hon. gentlemen acquainted-some of them do not seem to be acquainted-with legislation which passed this House last session without a dissenting' voice, either on the second reading or on the third reading; and to inform them that it was and is the intention of the Government to follow the line of that legislation but to remove in some respects the restrictions created thereby. Therefore, if this Bill as we propose it is an outrage, hon. gentlemen on both sides of the House consented to a worse outrage last year.

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L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

May I ask the right hon. gentleman what was the Act to which he refers?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I will read it; my hon. friend need hardly have asked the question, because he could not have anticipated that I would leave my statement at that. The legislation which passed this House last year without a dissenting vote is chapter 20 of the Acts of 1918. Section 1, subsection 2, of that Act reads as follows:

For the purpose of this Act a female person shall be deemed a British subject,

(a) if she is born a 'British subject andl is unmarried' or is married to a British subject, and has not become a subject of any foreign power; or,

(b) if she has herself been personally naturalized as a British subject and has not since become the subject of a foreign power; or,

(c) if she has become a British subject by marriage, or by the naturalization as a British subject of her parent while she was a minor, and: in either case has done nothing (other than in the second case by marriage) to forfeit or lose her status as a British subject, and obtains and presents to the official or officials in charge of the preparation or revision of the voters' lists of the constituency while he is so engaged in such preparation or revision a certificate under the signature of a judge of any court of record or of any superior court, under the seal of the said: court, certifying that such female person is of the full age of twenty-one years, has resided in Canada a sufficient length of time, and is possessed of all requirements necessary to entitle her, if unmarried, to become naturalized as a British subject, and that she has taken the oath of allegiance to His Majesty.

That was the Act pasesd last year, and we intend to proceed along the same line under this Bill but with certain modification relating to people who are born on the North American continent. So that this measure, which has been described' by some hon. gentlemen as an outrage, will be well within the limits of an Act which was con sented to by the unanimous voice of this House only at the last session.

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PRO

John Archibald Maharg

Progressive

Mr. MAHARG:

That was not the only bitter pill we swallowed last session.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I beg my hon. friend's pardon? I hope my hon. friend agrees with the statement which I have just made and which I have verified this morning by a careful examination of Hansard. The reasons for that provision were

set forth in the debate of last year, when I explained them very fully; I allude to them to-day in moving the second reading of this Bill. The reasons are very obvious. A woman coming to this country from some part of Europe or elsewhere might be in Canada only three or four weeks when she would marry a natural-born or naturalized British subject. Unless there was some such provision in this Bill, she would immediately become entitled to exercise the franchise. As regards the man, we do not allow him to exercise the franchise until he has resided in this country for five years and until he has undergone a certain examination as to educational and other qualifications. For what reasons then should we place a female immigrant upon a superior status as regards the exercise of the franchise? The Act of last year properly required that any woman who had become naturalized by operation of law should have the same residence and should pass the same examination with respect to her qualifications as any man who obtained naturalization. Is there any hon. gentleman in this House who will say that such a provision is either unwise or unfair, and if so, for what conceivable reason can it be regarded as unwise or unfair? The woman is placed in exactly the same position as the man. If he comes to this country, he must have a certain residence and must possess certain qualifications before he can become naturalized and exercise the franchise, when the woman comes to demand her franchise, she must have had the same residence and must possess the same qualifications. That is all that need be said about the matter.

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L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

The Naturalization Bill, which we passed a few days ago, does not say that.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I am dealing

with franchise and not naturalization. If this Parliament sees fit, for the purpose of the franchise, to lay down certain limitations so that a woman coming to this country can exercise the franchise only under the same conditions as a man, my hon. friend is sufficiently acquainted with the power of Parliament and with constitutional usage to realize that nothing stands in the way.

The charges made against this Bill, namely that it is an outrage, resolve themselves merely into what I have already said. We are following the line of the legislation of last year which I am prepared to justify anywhere, and we are keeping well within the limit, because we ,

purpose, when we reach the committee stage, to provide that such certificate need not be taken out by any person who was born upod the North American continent. I explained, when I moved the second reading of the Bill this morning, that the immigration into Canada from the North American continent is practically altogether from one country, that is, from the United States of America. The people who thus come into our country are familiar with institutions almost identical with our own, and they have become accustomed to take their part in public life; they realize and understand the principles upon which democracy on this continent has been built up. For that reason we thought it only just and fair that with respect to them the provision to which I alluded should be relaxed.

Thus, to sum up: We are using the provincial lists wherever provincial lists are available; where they are not available, we are providing means which, so far as I oan see, are equitable and fair to prepare lists for the purpose. With regard to women who have not been personally naturalized we are following the legislation of last year in requiring them to have had the same residence and to possess the same qualifications that they would,have been obliged to possess if they had made personal application for naturalization.

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PRO

John Archibald Maharg

Progressive

Mr. MAHARG:

What will be the status, under this Bill, of a woman who has come from a European country, say, ten, twelve, or fifteen years ago, as the case may be, and has obtained her naturalization through process of law, or by marriage, or in any other way?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

If she has obtained it by marriage, she must take out a certificate under the provisions set forth in the Act of last year, which will be repeated in this Act when we have an opportunity to propose them to the committee; that is,, if the committee should accept them. If she has been naturalized upon personal application, this Bill does not affect her at all; she has a perfect right to vote without obtaining any other certificate. She has the same status as any male elector. Like him, she must take any necessary oath when properly required to do so under the terms of this Act.

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July 5, 1919