May 10, 1920

?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   ELECTION LAWS AMENDMENT ACT, 1920.
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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Louder.

Topic:   ELECTION LAWS AMENDMENT ACT, 1920.
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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Those who cannot speak cannot hear. That is why they are shouting "louder."

Topic:   ELECTION LAWS AMENDMENT ACT, 1920.
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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

Shall the clause carry?

Topic:   ELECTION LAWS AMENDMENT ACT, 1920.
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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

I must point out to the hon. member (Mr. Cahill) that it is not sufficient for him to rise and remain standing. If he desires to prevent or delay the putting of the question, he must continue the debate.

Topic:   ELECTION LAWS AMENDMENT ACT, 1920.
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L LIB

Frank S. Cahill

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CAHILL:

I thought it was customary for the chair to ask for order, and I was waiting for order to be restored. It may be the rule that you must do more than stand on your feet and wait for order to be restored.

Topic:   ELECTION LAWS AMENDMENT ACT, 1920.
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order, order.

Topic:   ELECTION LAWS AMENDMENT ACT, 1920.
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Frank S. Cahill

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CAHILL:

I doubt very much, Mr. Chairman, if there is any rule defining how fast a man shall speak or how much time he shall occupy in debate. If hon. members opposite are not anxious to get away from here in a great hurry, they can very well continue as they are doing now and they will get all the entertainment they are looking for.

Before the clause carries I want to draw the attention of the Government to the fact that this country at the present time is in worse need of people than of anything else. I think the Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Calder) will agree with me on that. And yet this clause wall work directly against immigration. When people come to a country they come to make new homes, to better their condition, and to be-

come citizens. But after men and women have been in this contry for forty, fifty and in some cases sixty years enjoying the rights of citizenship, and find that by an Act of this Government they are precluded from exercising the franchise, I submit that the *Government of the day could do nothing better calculated to work a great hardship on our taxpayers than by passing this Act, which will exclude for the future not only Germans, Bulgarians, and Turks, but American and British subjects-the very people that we want; because if the Government juggle with them as they did last year by passing legislation under Which they can send British subjects out of the country-a piece of legislation that was rushed through this House without any consideration- .

Topic:   ELECTION LAWS AMENDMENT ACT, 1920.
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   ELECTION LAWS AMENDMENT ACT, 1920.
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L LIB

Frank S. Cahill

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CAHILL:

There seem to be several *chairmen calling for order, Mr. Chairman.

I do not know whether they are assuming to undertake the duties of the Chair or not. This very measure juggling with the franchise will be the means of keeping good prospective citizens out of this country. *There is no question about that. When my hon. friend from West Calgary (Mr. Tweedie) says that a man who has been in this country for twentydive or thirty years without asking for naturalization should not have it, the reflection is not on the alien, it is on the Canadian people. There must be something radically wrong with Cana-dianism when men and women will live in this country for thirty years and fail to ask for citizenship. When my hon. friends the other day introduced the question of education and urged that we do. something for our foreign immigrants, I thought they were taking the Tight course, and I think so still. But it is the business of the Government and of every citizen not to attempt to juggle with the votes of these immigrants as has been done in the past.

When it is said that this Act cannot be changed, I would ask my hon. friend the President of the Privy Council (Mr. Rowell) what course are the Ontario Government adopting in this matter? Are they being guided by the Naturalization Act? Not at all. Every province makes its own franchise; and surely the Dominion Government, has no less power than the governments of the provinces. We have a much greater responsibility than the provinces- a responsibility to every immigrant, and it is a responsibility that we should not treat as lightly as it is being treated here tonight by hon. Ministers of the Crown in

trying to pass this legislation. One minister stated that the franchise had been passed last year without opposition. In 1918. my first session, the first measure I spoke on was the Franchise Bill. I was in favour of woman suffrage, but I was opposed to having it tied up to the War Time Elect'ons Act. It was explained that it could not be done in any other way, and I accepted it for that reason because I wanted women to have the vote. Hon. members get up and say that everyone on this side of the House was opposed to woman suffrage. One minister says there was no opposition. Well, he has apologized for telling an untruth. Another minister says he was reading from an Act submitted to the legislature of Ontario; and he must admit that- he is stating an untruth. They treat this matter in that way, they pay no attention to it any further than to get this Act in such shape that they can carry off another election. They have no more regard for the country, they have no more regard for citizenship, they have no more regard for what is decent and honest than to simply say: Give us this

Franchise Act, we will force it through anyway, so that we may have a chance to get back again to the Treasury benches. The attention seems to be so good that I think I will desist; otherwise if my hon. friends want to prolong the discussion I am quite willing that they ishould do so. However, I just rose to go on record as protesting against this Act going through in this manner. So perhaps in future my hon. friends will have a little more patience.

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Joseph Archambault

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ARCHAMBAULT:

Before the clause carries I wish to emphasize again the situation created by the answer given to me tonight by the Acting solicitor General regarding the case I brought before the House. It was the case of a gentleman who came to this country from France thirty years ago, with his wife and his son who was seven years old. After a while he got his naturalization papers, and, of course, by the operation of the law his wife and son became British subjects. When the war broke out in August, 1914, the son took the first boat for France, he fought for five years, and he was decorated with the Military Medal and the Legion of Honour. His mother, who resided in Montreal, took part in all the war charities; that is she was practically the head of the charity organizations in that city, and she did such good work that she also was decorated by the Government of France. The mother and the son had both voted in the election of

1917; they had the right to vote. Now, according to the interpretation given by the Acting Solicitor General, this woman, who during five years cared for the relatives of those who went to the front, and her son who during five years risked his life and was wounded for the cause of civilization, will be deprived of their votes unless they will submit to the humiliation-I insist on this word-the humiliation of going before a judge and submitting to an inquiry regarding their loyalty and probably being cross<-examined by one of the government officials; and yet if the husband of this woman and the father of this boy had come from the slums of Chicago or had been a Mexican desperado they would not be obliged to submit to this humiliation. I appeal to the fairness of members of the committee. Is it fair that this woman and this boy who did more than their duty during the war should not be entitled to vote without going through this procedure, while the eon of a man from Mexico or of a man from the slums of Chicago, who probably did nothing during the war, is entitled to vote without going through it. I submit that any member who does not realize the unfairness of this situation is either blinded by political eagerness, or, non compos mentis.

Topic:   ELECTION LAWS AMENDMENT ACT, 1920.
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UNION

John Frederick Johnston

Unionist

Mr. JOHNSTON:

I wish to protest against this clause being carried in its present form. On Thursday last I put the following question to the minister in charge of the Bill:

Will the minister be kind enough to tell me what good reason there is and what good purpose will be served by compelling these British subjects to travel miles from their homes to obtain certificates?

The minister answered, if answer it can be termed:

Under this Bill as drawn it is provided that a person who has become a British subject by operation of law, in order to vote, shall obtain a certificate from a judge. That certificate is not for the purpose of identity, as my hon. friend from George Etienne Cartier suggested a few moments ago; it is for the purpose of satisfying the judge that the woman has such qualifications that in any event, though she may be a British subject by operation of law, she would be entitled to naturalization.

He admits that these people who are compelled to make applications are British subjects. Clause 29 says, in respect of the qualification of a voter:

A voter is one who

(a) is a British subject by birth or naturalization ; and,

(b) is of the full age of twenty-one years; and,

(c) has ordinarily resided in Canada for at least twelve months and in the electoral district wherein such person seeks to vote for at least two months immediately preceding the issue of the writ of election.

Under this clause it is noit claimed That these people who are compelled to travel many miles at inconvenience to themselves and their families to appear before a judge and obtain this certificate are not British subjects. The law says that ito have a vote you must he a British subject. Why, then, are these people compelled to go to this unnecessary trouble to obtain a certificate? If the reason is good, why did the minister noit tell the committee what that reason was? Later, the minister said:

The amendment I have submitted meets with the approval of the Government and it is the desire that it be passed.

It seems to me that the Government should be in a position to tell the committee and the country what reason they have for insisting that these people who are British subjects should be compelled to obtain these certificates. It has been suggested that the reason is political; that the motive is not what it should be. If that is the case, I will make my remarks very brief. I am sorry that the Minister of Immigration (Mr. Calder) is not in his seat, because he knows the conditions in Saskatchewan even better than I do. He must know that if this provision is carried into the law thousands of people in the western provinces will, in effect, at any rate, be disfranchised. If that is the intention of the Government, then this proposed legislation is worse than the War-time Elections Act. Under the Wartime Elections Act the Government went out and disfranchised people by what I would term front-door methods, but in this case, they give the franchise with one hand and take it away with the other; instead of using front door methods they are going in the back door and depriving these people of the right to the franchise.

I have nothing to say on behalf of the newcomers to this country or against the ten-year residence clause as contained in the Naturalization Act. Taking into consideration the promise made by the Prime Minister, I have, however, something to say on behalf of the people who are already in this country, who came here at our invitation. We went so far as to send our immigration officers into their country to invite them to come here and it seems to me that if we want to build up in this country a united citizenship, that is a mighty poor way to go about it. I think that gvery hon. member looked upon the resolution intro-

duced a few days ago by the member for Frontenac (Mr. Edwards) in respect to the education of the foreign-born in this country as a good resolution. You can say all you like along the lines suggested in that resolution, but if you treat newcomers to this country as we propose to treat them under the terms of this Bill, you will undo everything you do in every other way. I dissociate myself from anything that may have been said on behalf of foreigners in this country. No one from this group has been making a plea for foreigners. These people are Canadian citizens, British subjects in this country, but for some reason this Government has seen fit to bring down a Bill that will in effect disfranchise subjects who are entitled to the vote.

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William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

Well, I hope it does not make my hon. friend siok; it has not had that effect on me. When the question of

extending the franchise to women iwas before the House, my friend will admit, certain hon. gentlemen opposite from Quebec objected to the extension of the franchise to women, and that, I believe is the attitude generally of that province. I am not going to quarrel with the people of Quebec for taking that attitude if they choose to take it. A great deal can be said both for and against the extension of the franchise to women, but I think I am stating what is correct when I say that a strong feeling was manifested in this House by certain members from Quebec against extending the franchise to women, which feeling Was not manifested, at least to the same extent, by members from any other province. It was their privilege to express that disapproval if they wished to do so, but it seems slightly inconsistent on the part of those hon. gentlemen who objected generally to the extension of the franchise to women to show now such solicitude on behalf of women of alien enemy origin who happen to reside in this country. Those who give this bill careful study and consideration will see in this clause certain safeguards which we should have in this legislation in order to protect those people who are entitled to the franchise. We have been entirely too slack in that regard in times past; we have held our franchise entirely too cheaply, and the safeguards which are inserted are no more than are right under existing circumstances. True, the war is over, but the people of this country have not yet forgotten and will not forget for many years to come that there was a war. They are still suffering from the losses which many of them have sustained in that war, and it is in the interest of all concerned that there should be a period of probation, so to speak, before certain people are taken into full citizenship. *i

Section 29, as amended, agreed to on division.

Progress reported.

On the motion of Eight Hon. Mr. Doherty the House adjourned at 1.05 a.m. (Tuesday.)

Tuesday, May 11, 1920.

Topic:   ELECTION LAWS AMENDMENT ACT, 1920.
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May 10, 1920