I should like to draw his attention to the fact that all the French-Can-adian settlements in northern Saskatchewan are described here as foreign. If my hon. friend likes to take evidence of that kind that is his privilege.
There are foreigners and foreigners, and I am pointing out that if the government get this bill through all immigrants coming to this country will have to depend upon the government for their naturalization papers, which they cannot secure without going to the Secretary of State. This whole machinery created under this bill will be nothing but political machinery. That is quite evident, and if this parliament does nothing else for the next month we should
oppose the passage of this bill. The present act is working well; these applications come before the highest and most respected tribunals in the country, and what excuse have the government given for changing the procedure? What does the Secretary of State hope to do? For the action which is taken before the judge, before whom the applicant appears to answer questions which test his fitness for becoming a Canadian citizen, the minister is going to substitute nothing but a form of correspondence school, which he himself cannot even supervise. He tells us that a man must be vouched for by three people, but I wonder if there is anyone in this house to-night who thinks there is one man in Canada who could not get all these certificates if he wanted to become naturalized. Do we have to recall what took place in Peace River and in Athabasca to suggest what might take place under this act? The safeguards which the minister claims to have placed in this bill do not amount to anything. For example, he says the notice must be posted in a post office, but I pointed out to the Postmaster General the other evening that in many post offices throughout Canada there is not a place where these notices can be posted. The mail is kept in a room of the house and handed out through the door, and there is absolutely no place where a notice could be posted. If a notice were posted the applicant would last perhaps twenty-four minutes in some cases or twenty-four hours in others.
Then, as I pointed out this afternoon, no provision is made for the filing of objections to these applications for naturalization. I wonder what the minister is going to do in that case. If anyone wishes to object to any person becoming naturalized under this bill, what procedure must he follow? I will pause for a reply.
My hon friends are not going to make a bit of progress by calling "carried". We on this side have our rights in this house just as hon. members opposite have theirs, and I intend to exercise my privileges. I can stay here and talk until eleven o'clock if it is necessary in order to keep this bill from being carried; I do not want to do so and that is not my intention, but if we cannot be treated with a certain amount of respect when we rise to speak on any question we will have to secure our rights in some other way, and we will see that we do obtain them.
I am not one of those who think it should be made easy for people to become naturalized in this country; I think naturalization is one
of the most priceless gifts we can bestow upon anyone. Before we say an applicant will be a good citizen or that he has the making of a good Canadian citizen we must consider the aspirations of the country from which he comes, the attitude of his people towards law and order and towards governments, because all these things will be reflected in the future Canadian nation. Consequently I say that when we are dealing with this matter we should consider it very carefully, and we should proceed with a good deal of caution. Restrictions are necessary to a certain degree; if we do not maintain them we will find a condition existing in this country similar to that prevaling in the United States. We are laying a foundation to-day for the future generations, and nothing is going to contribute more to the soundness of our people in the future than this proposed measure now under consideration.
I say, Mr. Chairman, that in the interests of the government this bill should not pass. We know that when election time comes the Secretary of State will be flooded with applications for naturalization. I am not speaking particularly of the present occupant of that office; no matter who is occupying it at that time pressure will be brought to bear upon him, and being human he will give way under it. This thing eventually will be nothing more or less than a political machine, which will not work to the benefit of the country as a whole. The principle is wrong; the application is wrong, and the results will be disastrous to this country. Speaking for myself, I object to this proposed new act and to the way it is intended to be applied.
During the debate this afternoon I put a question, to the Secretary of State to which I did not receive an answer. I suppose almost everyone looks at this question more or less from a personal point of view; I have had considerable experience in connection) with the naturalization of aliens in my county, and so far have had no difficulty at all. It seems to me that the discussion we have had has contained a good deal of matter quite apart from the real issue but the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition hawe cleared the atmosphere by their addresses. I think on both sides of the hous'e we agree on the principles underlying this bill; it seems to be the unanimous opinion of members of the house that a person who is entitled to naturalization should receive it, and the only point on which we differ is the question of procedure. We have been told from this side of the house that the present procedure works 56103-176
very well, and that is is simple and economical. Under the present system the applicant in the province of Nova Scotia goes to the clerk of the county court. The clerk gives him a form, fills it out for him if he wants to, and charges him five dollars, and that is all that applicant needs to pay to get his certificate of naturalization. The clerk takes that application and files it in his office, and puts a notice on it of the date when the county court judge will hear that man's application. On that date the applicant appears before the county court judge and is put- through an examination. As the result of that examination the county court judge reports to the Secretary of State, who gives or withholds the certificate.
It has been urged in favour of the change that it is going to be easier under this new law, and that it is going to be less costly and less cumbersome. With regard to the first, I want to say now that it is going to cost very much more for any applicant to get a certificate of naturalization under this new law than it did under the old. In the first place it is necessary for him to get a form from the Secretary of State. How is he going to do that? Great pleasare made on behalf of those people who live in the far distant parts of this country, and for them I think we must all feel a certain amount of sympathy. We want to assist each one of those men who is looking for naturalization. We want him to get it as easily and as cheaply as possible. Is it going to be easier for a man to get a certificate of naturalization? Is it going to be easier, in the first place, for him to get his application form? To whom is he going to apply? You must remember that those people who live in the far distant parts of the country do not know exactly whom to go to. Down in our country they know exactly where the court house is. They know that they can go there and they can get a form and get it filled in, and all they have to do is to pay five dollars. That is every cent it will ever cost a man to get his certificate of naturalization. He does not have to employ a lawyer, or if he does it will cost perhaps $25, which I think is the legal fee down there. Is it possible to conceive that any man in the west is going to know enough about the procedure to do this without employing a lawyer? It is not. The very first thing that man must do is to employ counsel to secure the form for him, and put him through the various steps that enable him to receive his certificate of naturalization.
There is one point on which I think we are all agreed, and that is citizenship in the
British Empire. We are all agreed as to the importance of that, and the value that should be attached to it by every person. Is there any danger, is there any menace to be feared from either the procedure under the present law, or under the proposed change? Under the present law, which has now been in force for fourteen years, we have had no charge of any scandal. There is no possibility of any person securing a certificate of natural" ization in this country who is not entitled to it. Under the proposed change, will such a possibility arise? I think we should discuss this matter honestly, and with the knowledge that the political history of this country is not without incidents of various kinds where people have been naturalized who1 were not entitled to naturalization. Until human nature changes, or until such incidents as were brought to our attention the other day in the Athabaska election are eliminated, I think we can prophesy with considerable confidence that politicians will be found in the future who will not hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity at election time to naturalize those who are not qualified for naturalization, if it is going to swell their election vote.
It is said that the amendments submitted by the Secretary of State go far to preclude any possibility of fraudulent devices on the part of people applying for naturalization. I want to say that everyone of those amendments is prefectly innocuous, as far as any prevention of fraudulent practice is concerned. In the first place, it is said that you must advertise it in the newspaper, and post it in the post office. The difficulties in the way of that have already been pointed out. If, for instance, we are going to visualize a scene where there is a concerted attempt, as there was in the Athabaska election, a procedure to steal an election, it will begin three months before the taking of the poll. There will then be a gathering in some political hall-I am not saying that it will be a Liberal hall any more than a Tory hall, but it will be a corrupt hall, whatever hall it is-and the leaders will be there, and the chances are very much that the gathering will be pretty sure of having a sympathetic hearing from the Secretary of State, Whoever he may be. Supposing there is a corrupt Secretary of State, which I am glad to say is not the case in the present instance-we all have the highest regard for the present holder of that office-you can see the possibilities. In my county I am fortunate enough to have opponents who are far above doing anything of that sort., but there are counties in this Do-
minion where such practices have prevailed in the past, and it is possible that they may prevail in the future.
Mr.'ROBB: Is my hon. friend referring to Colchester?
No, I am not referring to Colchester. There was some reference a long time ago to Colchester, but I have not heard the name of my friend the member for Colchester (Mr. MacNutt) in connection with it. He is a man of exceptional integrity. I am glad to assure the Minister of Finance that if there has been anything wrong in politics, as far as Colchester or any other county in the province of Nova Scotia, is concerned the old province of Nova Scotia stands pretty well as to honesty in conducting elections. It is rarely indeed that we have any scandals of that sort down there. It is rarely indeed that we hear of the operations of any Baldy Robb or any other gentleman of that description down in Nova Scotia. He would be too near the waters of the Atlantic to try anything like that,
Let us visualize a little further the procedure under the proposed legislation. The first procedure will be to post notices in the post office and to satisfy the Secretary of State that that has been done. It is not necessary to keep the notices posted up very long; perhaps fifteen minutes will be sufficient to justify an affidavit on the part of any person that a notice has been duly posted in the post office and that the requirements of the act have been fulfilled.
The next thing is the advertisement in some newspaper, and I believe the advertisement will cost the man in the west a greater amount than at present he will have to pay in order to get his naturalization papers. That difficulty however can be overcome. The next thing is to get two homesteaders, two people who own their own land and a magistrate. There is not in the Dominion a county where three corrupt men cannot be found who will sign any papers necessary to carry their party through an election. In this way we have the stage all set for the perpetration of that very thing that we all fear.
In regard to my own constituency I asked a very simple question and I have yet to receive an answer. Under the present circumstances the county court judge of my county passes upon the qualifications of the applicants who come before him. Surely the Secretary of State, no matter who he may be, must depend upon the report that comes to him. As the act now stands he receives the report of the county court judge. He must get a report from somebody and he says that
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he is going to get a report from, it may be, a member of the mounted police. Unfortunately, or fortunately, because we are a law-abiding people in our part of the country, we have no mounted police. If we do not get a mounted policeman, the minister says: We will get a homestead inspector. We have no homestead inspectors; we have no hay and straw inspectors; we have no egg inspectors, and I do not know just what official the minister is going to employ. If I had an assurance from him that he was going to appoint some reputable person as an inspector I would feel easier about the matter, but the only information he gives us is that it will be either a mounted police officer, a homestead inspector or others. It is that word "others" that I am afraid of. It is a very comprehensive word and under it he can employ any person under heaven he wants to and send him down to my constituency. That is the man on whose report the minister is going to pass upon the qualifications of the applicant for naturalization.
In view of the importance of the subject, in view of the safeguards that past parliaments have thrown around this great privilege, and in view of the imperial conference which agreed upon these qualifications, are we at this late date to nullify the work of all those people? Are we to cheapen citizenship in the British Empire? Or are we to open the door to a possibility of that being done? I hesitate to charge the government with any intent to do anything of the kind. Possibly I may be a bit heretical in saying this, but I regard them individually as very high class gentlemen. As regards the government collectively, I am sorry to say my opinion is not so high. If I could feel assured that the present Secretary of State would hold that office for a long term of years I would feel easier, but I am satisfied that his tenure is not going to be very long and it is within the bounds of possibility that a Tory government may come in. We all know what the record of the Tories was in the past and I am scared at the scandals that may arise in the future if we have a Tory government in power and a corrupt Secretary of State! That is the reason why I for one am going to oppose this bill with all the amendments, because the amendments, so far as I can see, have not tended in the slightest degree to improve the original idea.
There is another point that is urged by some members and that is that this measure will tend towards uniformity. I do not under-56103-1761
stand how there is going to be any greater uniformity under this legislation than there was in the past.