In respect of an Indian of any band who has not made application for enfranchisement under this section or under section 114 of this act, the superintendent general may appoint a board to consist of two officers of the department and a member of the band to which the Indian or Indians under investigation belongs, to make inquiry and report as to the fitness of any Indian or Indians to be enfranchised, and such report shall have the same force and effect and shall be dealt with in the same manner as if the same had been made upon the application of an Indian under this section.
under discussion at a previous sitting the Minister of Justice suggested that as under the act as it is to-day an Indian has the right to apply, that section should be left in the act, and provision made by adding a further subsection whereby the department, in place of the Indian, may take the initial step.
opposed on the last occasion still remains, namely that the department may, forcibly or by coercion or without the consent of the Indian, enfranchise Indians who are not prepared to make application for enfranchisement. Do I understand that that is still the situation?
the hon. member when he says the principle is to enforce enfranchisement or to coerce the Indians. The department does not wish to do that. The principle in this amendment is the same as it was before.
Either by coercion, or whatever term you wish to choose, the principle is that under the provisions of the act an Indian may be forced to accept enfranchisement, even if he does not wish it. If that is the principle I wish to state I am on this occasion as much opposed as I was on the last. In fact, my opposition is even greater since, in the interval, a number of Indians have come to Ottawa and have explained to members of [DOT]the committee that in the most energetic fashion they are opposed to this action.
amendment as it stands in the bill, and the proposed amendment, are absolutely wrong. As I said a few days ago, the measure is in conflict with our electoral legislation, and could very well be left out of the Indian Act. I am convinced that it enters into conflict with the law, and that there would be a conflict of jurisdiction. In my view the section should be taken away entirely from the Indian Act. This is the time and place to do it. Where there are anomalies of this kind the house should avail itself of the opportunity of striking them out. Regardless of what the Minister of Justice may have said on a former occasion, I am convinced that this matter is within the scope of the Dominion Elections Act. I maintain that the present amendment is just as vicious as it was in its previous form, and should be deleted from the Indian Act.
newspaper, I saw a memorandum which had been sent to the authorities in Ottawa with respect to this amendment. I believe it came from the band of Indians at Caughnawaga, and expressed dissatisfaction with the amendment before the committee. Has the minister received any such communication from these people?
you have the power to enfranchise. Who decides whether he should be enfranchised or not under this new bill?
Mr. MURPHA": The amendment to the
act reads as follows:
In respect of an Indian of any band who has not made application for enfranchisement under this section-
That is, section 110.
-or under section 114 of this act the superintendent general may appoint a board to consist of two officers of the department and a member of the band to which the Indian or Indians under investigation belongs, to make inquiry and report as to the fitness of any
Indian or Indians to be enfranchised, and such report shall have the same force and effect and shall he dealt with in the same manner as if the same had been made upon the application of an Indian under this section.
In the course of such inquiry it shall be the duty of the board to take into consideration and report upon tile attitude of any such Indian towards his enfranchisement, which attitude shall be a factor in determining the question of fitness.
After the report has been received, the recommendation of the board made, then the Superintendent General may make proper representation to His Excellency in council that such Indian should be enfranchised, and then the necessary action will no doubt be taken. But it does not rest with the Superintendent General to enfranchise him, that is done by His Excellency in council, the same as it is under the present system and has been for some time if not always.
Does not the amendment introduced this afternoon, and the section as amended, give the officials of the department the power to enfranchise an Indian against his will or if he does not desire it at all?