May 1, 1928

PRIVATE BILLS-ORDER OF PRECEDENCE


On the orders of the day:


CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Toronto Northwest):

I notice that the government have decided to give a particular private bill precedence over the others to-night. This is contrary to the rules of the house. I desire to ask what they propose to do in regard to order No. 28 with reference to Bill No. 63, which deals with telephone and telegraph companies. This is one of the most important public bills on the order paper. There is also another important bill respecting lapsed policies under the Insurance Act. These are bills involving public policy and should have precedence. They have been on the order paper for some considerable time and have not been advanced. They affect the body politic of the whole Dominion and should be given some consideration.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Justice):

I do not think any bill can have

precedence over others unless by unanimous consent. All that was said yesterday with respect to the bill in which the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Kennedy) is interested was that owing to the special circumstances surrounding it the government would not oppose a request from him that the bill be proceeded with first to-night. That, however, is as far as we can go.

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INQUIRY FOR RETURN


On the orders of the day:


CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. J. W. EDWARDS (Frontenac-Ad-dington):

About five or six weeks ago I

placed on the order paper a question relating to the alienation of lands in the west and the authority therefor. I desire to know from the Minister of the Interior when I may expect an answer. I may say that the question was passed as an order for return.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Hon. CHARLES STEWART (Minister of the Interior):

I will inquire and give my hon. friend an answer to-morrow.

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ASBESTOS CORPORATION

THREATENED LEGAL PROCEEDINGS


On the orders of the day:


CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition) :

I was going to ask whether the attention of the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Mackenzie King) has been

directed to threatened proceedings against the Asbestos Corporation of Canada and the United States, whether there was any correspondence, and what action it is proposed to take. I see the right hon. gentleman is not present. I merely mention the matter and will let it stand until he is in his place.

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Subtopic:   THREATENED LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Justice):

I will call my right hon. friend's

attention to the question.

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Subtopic:   THREATENED LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
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NATURALIZATION ACT AMENDMENT


The house resumed from April 30 consideration in committee of Bill No. 19, to amend the Naturalization Act-Mr. Rinfret-Mr. Johnston in the chair. On section 1-Application to court and issue of certificate.


CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Last evening I was discussing this measure and I had briefly referred to the circumstances that led up to the passing of the legislation in 1914. Possibly I should have pointed out that in 1914 we enacted a statute which was drafted by the draftsman of the British parliament. During the progress of the discussion at that time the matter was considered in detail and certain observations' were made as to the drafting of the measure, whereupon Mr. Borden, now Sir Robert Borden, directed the attention of the house to the fact to which I have just alluded, namely, that the measure had been drafted in Great Britain. The reason was obvious. This is a very serious obligation imposed upon the British Empire, and as the taxpayer in Great Britain is so much concerned, inasmuch as he largely makes possible the maintenance of the fleet that insures the safety of our citizens on the high seas, the drafting of the bill became a matter of paramount importance. When the measure was introduced in the legislature of each of the various self-governing communities composing the empire it was the same in terms, except for such variations only as might be essential in view of the conditions under which these respective communities live.

The Naturalization Act divides itself into two branches: first there is the question of principle under which naturalization may be granted; and secondly the act relates to procedure. Those who are interested in the matter will find in our revised statutes the act set out as it now exists. In 1919 we made some amendments to the statute. It is unnecessary to do more than point out that we have set up conditions under which naturalization may be granted. These conditions I will refer to for the reason that it becomes important to consider them

2544 COMMONS

Naturalization Act-Mr. Bennett

in the light of what was done by the other communities of the empire, and in view also of the observations made by the Secretary of State (Mr. Rinfret), which I regret to say he must have made inadvertently, because a mere casual observation of the legislation of other portions of the empire will show that the hon. gentleman is wholly wrong.

The statute in question is now chapter 138 of the Act respecting British Nationality, Naturalization and Aliens. The section relating to the question of principle is' section 4:

The minister may grant a certificate of naturalization to an alien who makes an application for the purpose, and satisfies the minister-

(a) That he has either resided in His Majesty's dominions for a period of not less than five years in the manner required by this section, or been in the service of the crown for not less than five years, within the last eight years before the application; and

(b) that he is of good character and has an adequate knowledge of either the English or French languages; and

(c) that he intends if his application is granted either to reside in His Majesty's dominions or to enter or continue in the service of the crown.

Then follows the provision respecting residence required. It is residence in Canada for not less than one year immediately preceding the application, and previous residence, either in Canada or in some other part of His Majesty's dominions, for a period of four years within the last eight years before the application.

The grant of a certificate of naturalization to any such alien shall be in the absolute discretion of the minister, and he may, with or without assigning any reason, give or withhold the certificate as he thinks most conducive to the public good, and no appeal shall lie from his decision.

(4) A certificate of naturalization shall not take effect until the applicant has taken the oath of allegiance.

(5) In the case of a woman who was a British subject previously to her marriage to an alien and whose husband has died, or whose marriage has been dissolved, the requirements of this section as to residence shall not apply, and the minister may, in any other special ease, if he thinks fit, grant a certificate of naturalization, although the four years' residence or five years' service has not been within the last eight years before the application.

(6) For the purposes of this section a period spent in the service of the crown may, if the minister thinks fit, be treated as equivalent to a period of residence in Canada.

This embodies the amendments of 1914, enacted after t'he outbreak of the war, and also those of 1920, which I think many hon members will recall. It is the principle upon which naturalization is granted to an alien in this country, conferring upon him the status

of a British subject throughout the world, with all the immunities, the rights and the powers that belong to such a subject. Now comes the next question-the conditions under which this privilege may be granted. There is a provision dealing with procedure -and evidence, commencing at section 22 and including the following sections down to section 28. The section, I have read having settled the principle, we now apply procedure and evidence and these matters are dealt with as follows:

22. An alien desiring to be naturalized shall apply for a decision establishing that he is qualified and fit to be naturalized under the provisions of this act to any judge of any superior court or to any judge of any circuit, district or county court, and in the province of Ontario the court of general sessions of the peace, and in the Northwest Territories to such authorities or persons as the governor in council may prescribe.

23. The application shall be delivered at the office of the clerk or other proper officer of the court during office hours, and such application shall be posted by such clerk or other proper officer in a conspicuous place in his office, continuously for a period of at least three months before the application is heard by the court.

That is the second provision, with respect to procedure. To continue:

24. At any time after the filing of such application and previous to the hearing of the application, any person objecting to the naturalization of the alien may file in court an opposition in which shall be stated the grounds of his objection.

25. The applicant shall produce to the court such evidence, that- he is qualified and fit to be naturalized under the provisions of this act, as the court may require, and shall also personally appear before the court for examination unless it is established to the satisfaction of the court that he is prevented from so appearing by some good and sufficient cause.

26. If the court decides that the alien is a fit and proper person to be naturalized and possesses the required qualifications, a certified copy of such decision shall be transmitted by the clerk of the court to the minister together with the application and such other papers, documents and reports as may be required by any regulation made hereunder.

27. The minister may thereupon in his absolute discretion issue a certificate of naturalization and shall send the same to the clerk of the court to whom the application for naturalization was made.

(2) Upon the applicant taking and subscribing the oath of allegiance, which may be so taken and subscribed by any person duly authorized to administer judicial oaths by the laws of the province in which the applicant resides, the clerk shall deliver the certificate to the applicant.

Those are the conditions as to procedure under which the principles to which I have referred are made applicable. It was suggested that this appearing in court was a

Naturalization Act-Mr. Bennett

difficult matter. I dealt with that in 1914, and if any hon. gentlemen are curious and desire to see what is the law in the United States, if they are not bored by reading my observations at that time they will find that applicants must appear in open court, supported by two witnesses in open court, who must give evidence as to their character and their fitness to become American citizens, and the applicant must publicly renounce his allegiance to his former sovereign and former country. Further than that, in open court he must take an oath that he does believe in organized government and that he is not a member of any organization or society which has in mind the destruction of governments. Those are parts of the conditions which are imposed in the United States.

We have imposed less onerous conditions in Canada, under the sections which I have just read and which it is now proposed to repeal. There is not another word substituted; there is not another suggestion made to take the place of these sections. We are just leaving it in the hands of the Secretary of State with the power to make regulations, and I say to him if he had taken the trouble to read the laws of the other parts of the British Empire he would not have said what he did last evening. Canada is not the only country which has made these provisions with respect to procedure, and first we will consider the nearby country of Newfoundland. They passed the same statute; they had to deal with the same matter, and what action did they take? In 1915, having enacted the substantial provisions with respect to principle to which I have just alluded, we find them further providing for these cases. The first sections only deal with the manner in which they may be dealt with, and I will not read them again. Section 19 of chapter 11 of the statutes of 1915 of Newfoundland reads as follows:

The governor in council may make regulations generally for carrying into effect the objects of this act, and in particular with respect to the following matters:

(a) The form and registration of certificates of naturalization granted by the Colonial Secretary;

(b) The form and registration of declarations of alienage and declarations of resumption or retention of British nationality;

(e) The time within which the oath of allegiance is to be taken. . . .

And so on. Then there is a provision with respect to proof of certificates and with respect to the evidence of declarations. In other words, the colony of Newfoundland dealt with the matter of procedure through

the regulations which might be made by the colonial secretary or the governor in council.

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LIB

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. RINFRET:

Will my hon. friend allow me to interrupt? That will be exactly the situation in Canada if this bill passes.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes, in part; I am coming to that. Now let us consider New Zealand. That country passed a statute in 1923, after the war, to amend and consolidate the former legislation, and that statute embodies certain provisions now found in our revised statutes. They have the same provisions with respect to the principle which we now have in Canada, and then comes section 4 of their act:

When any alien friend

That is different from our statute.

-residing in New Zealand desires to be naturalized as a British subject in New Zealand, he may present to the minister an application in writing signed by him, setting forth- .

(a) His name, age, birthplace, residence,

occupation, and nationality: _

(b) The length of his residence in New Zealand and his desire to settle therein either permanently or for a limited period, stating such limited period (if any):

(e) A request that a certificate of naturalization may be granted to him.

(2) Every such application shall be verified by a statutory declaration subscribed by the applicant.

Then section 5 continues:

(1) If the minister is satisfied-

(a) That the applicant has either resided within New Zealand for a period not less than the prescribed time or has been in the service of the crown in any part of His Majesty's dominions for not less than five years within the last eight years; and

(b) That the applicant is of good character and has an adequate knowledge of the English language; and

(c) That the applicant intends, if his application is granted, to continue to reside in His Majesty's dominions, or to enter, or continue in, the service of the crown; and

(d) That in all other respects the applicant is a person fit to hold and exercise the rights of a British subject in New Zealand-the minister may grant a certificate of naturalization to the applicant.

(2) The grant of a certificate of naturalization to any such alien shall be in the absolute discretion of the minister, and he may, with or without assigning any reason, give or withhold the certificate as he thinks most conducive to the public good, and no appeal shall lie from his decision.

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LIB

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. RINFRET:

If my hon. friend will

allow me, all these dispositions will remain in the law when we have repealed the sections referring the cases to the courts.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I am coming to just

what my hon. friend is leaving out; I am

Naturalization Act-Mr. Bennett

pointing out that we are leaving to regulation what is now a matter of statute in part in the other British communities. Further, we are doing what is not being done in any other part of this empire. It is true that there is a broad power in our section 28 which I mentioned with respect to regulations ; that section was drafted in Great Britain and sent to Canada and all the other self-governing communities throughout the world where our empire extends. That is the position, and with the reason for the absolute discretion resting with the minister I shall presently deal, but it is not a political discretion. To that I shall also refer.

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May 1, 1928