December 13, 1951

LIB

Charles-Arthur Dumoulin Cannon

Liberal

Mr. Cannon:

No, it does not mean that, not at all. In any case in which an accusation is made the fact that an inquiry has to be made into the accusation does not mean that the person accused has to prove himself innocent. It means that the person making the accusation has to prove the accusation. It is the same thing here. If there is an alleged violation an inquiry is made and the corporation making the accusation has to prove that a violation has taken place. Until it is proved it is an alleged violation.

Topic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE NUMBER OF GOVERNORS, PROVIDE PENSIONS AND FURTHER GRANTS
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

The explanation of the hon. member for Iles-de-la-Madeleine is the exact opposite of what the minister said. Which is right? Am I to take the minister's word for this or-

Topic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE NUMBER OF GOVERNORS, PROVIDE PENSIONS AND FURTHER GRANTS
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LIB

James Joseph McCann (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. McCann:

If it suits the hon. member any better I will withdraw my explanation.

Topic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE NUMBER OF GOVERNORS, PROVIDE PENSIONS AND FURTHER GRANTS
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Section agreed to. On section 8-Repeal.


PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

I think you will find, Mr. Chairman, that in the report of the committee there is a submission with regard to clause 8. It was represented to the committee that there was no intention of removing section 23 of the broadcasting act from the statute books of Canada but simply to transfer it from the broadcasting act to the Radio Act. If you examine the report of the special committee on radio broadcasting you will see that in reporting the bill they indicate they have done so on the footing that this section is to be re-enacted in the Radio Act, and they so recommend. I think it should be clearly stated to the house that section 8 will not be brought into effect until a corresponding provision has been enacted by parliament by way of addition to the present provisions of the Radio Act.

You will observe, Mr. Chairman, that subsection 2 of section 8 provides that subsection 1 shall come into force on a day to be fixed by proclamation of the governor in council. The committee was informed that section was inserted with a view to deferring the coming into force of subsection 1, to repeal section 23 of the broadcasting act, until such time as the section could be reenacted in the Radio Act. I think we should have on the record now formal assurance from the government that section 8 of this bill repealing section 23 of the broadcasting act will not be brought into force and effect until the same or an equivalent provision has been enacted by parliament to become a part of the Radio Act.

Topic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE NUMBER OF GOVERNORS, PROVIDE PENSIONS AND FURTHER GRANTS
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LIB

Joseph-Alfred Dion (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Shall the clause carry?

Topic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE NUMBER OF GOVERNORS, PROVIDE PENSIONS AND FURTHER GRANTS
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

No.

Topic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE NUMBER OF GOVERNORS, PROVIDE PENSIONS AND FURTHER GRANTS
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LIB

James Joseph McCann (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. McCann:

The information we have- and I think the hon. member heard it at the time-is that the officer of the transport department did say that it was the intention to re-enact this provision in the Radio Act in practically the same terms. Is that not correct?

Topic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE NUMBER OF GOVERNORS, PROVIDE PENSIONS AND FURTHER GRANTS
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Yes. It is in the light of that information that I ask now that assurance be given that this section 8 of the bill will not be proclaimed. In other words, that section 23 of the broadcasting act will not be repealed until such time as the equivalent provision has been enacted into the Radio Act.

Topic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE NUMBER OF GOVERNORS, PROVIDE PENSIONS AND FURTHER GRANTS
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LIB

James Joseph McCann (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. McCann:

I think we can give that assurance.

Topic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE NUMBER OF GOVERNORS, PROVIDE PENSIONS AND FURTHER GRANTS
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Section agreed to. On section 9-Application to be referred to corporation.


PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

In making an application for a licence, is there a public hearing?

Topic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE NUMBER OF GOVERNORS, PROVIDE PENSIONS AND FURTHER GRANTS
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LIB

James Joseph McCann (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. McCann:

Yes, there is.

Topic:   CANADIAN BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE NUMBER OF GOVERNORS, PROVIDE PENSIONS AND FURTHER GRANTS
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Section agreed to. Title agreed to. Bill reported, read the third time and passed.


DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT

AMENDMENT RESPECTING ADVANCE POLLS AND PRISONERS OF WAR VOTING REGULATIONS

LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Hon. W. E. Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) moved

the second reading of Bill No. 41, to amend the Dominion Elections Act, 1938, and to change its title to the Canada Elections Act.

Dominion Elections Act

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING ADVANCE POLLS AND PRISONERS OF WAR VOTING REGULATIONS
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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. H. W. Herridge (Kootenay West):

Having been a member of the elections act committee, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a few observations at this stage. Before so doing I must gently chide the genial Minister of Public Works (Mr. Fournier) for some remarks he made last night when he was informing us of the business of the house. The minister said:

Tomorrow we will continue the consideration of Bill No. 17, to amend the Canadian Broadcasting Act, 1936, and then a list of small bills: Bill No. 41, to amend the Dominion Elections Act . . .

I am quite sure this house does not consider this a small bill. It is not small in physical size, because it contains 50 pages. It is not small in content because it contains a great deal of material which is the result of much study on the part of the committee. It is not small in importance because it is the statutory provision governing the election of members to this house. I am sure it is not a small bill in any sense of the word so far' as hon. members of this house are concerned.

I want to say that I have enjoyed working on the elections committee, both during the last session and this session. I particularly appreciate the non-partisan approach of the members of the committee in giving consideration to this very important legislation. The committee went through the act thoroughly from beginning to end. First of all we received the advice and suggestions of the chief electoral officer, Mr. Castonguay, as his experience had indicated there should be technical and other changes. Then the hon. members of this house presented to the committee the results of their personal experience, and their knowledge of conditions in various parts of Canada. I am sure the combination of the experience of the chief electoral officer and the experience of the members resulted in satisfactory amendments to this act.

Before proceeding with the sections of the act with which I wish to deal this evening, I do wish to pay a tribute to our chief electoral officer, Mr. Castonguay. I was very much impressed with his knowledge of the act and the completely detached and objective way in which he carries out his duties. Without doubt the majority of Canadians believe the chief electoral officer is some part of parliament's administrative machinery. He is not necessarily a personality they know. I am sure if they realized the objective way and the spirit in which our chief electoral officer carries out his duties they would have a very high appreciation of the great function he performs in a parliamentary democracy.

Doviinion Elections Act

We in this group consider this bill generally satisfactory. We believe it is a most important measure because it is the foundation upon which the machinery of democracy functions. The other day I read newspaper comments concerning the limited knowledge and information of university students about the working of our democracy. They were asked who the Prime Minister of Canada was, and so on, and it was obvious from these newspaper reports that a lot of university students do not know who the Prime Minister of Canada is. These students lack other information relating to this house. I believe this indicates some lack in our educational system. In my, opinion every high school student in Canada should be taught the terms of the British North America Act. In learning those terms the student would have a complete knowledge of constitutional developments in Canada, and of Canadian history. I believe everyone should have a thorough understanding of the Canadian Citizenship Act and of the elections act. Those three acts are fundamental and must be understood by a large percentage of our people if they are going to have a proper appreciation of the democracy we enjoy.

I am going to devote the rest of my remarks, Mr. Speaker, to a subject about which I am quite concerned, and about which a proportion of the constituents I represent are concerned. According to the elections act now, and the provincial legislation of British Columbia, certain persons of Doukhobor origin are denied the franchise.

I am going to bring briefly to the attention of the committee a misunderstanding I found in the elections act committee when I first approached the matter. There seems to be a misunderstanding generally throughout the country, occasioned largely by improper reporting of the circumstances that exist in Kootenay West. I am going to deal briefly with that question as related to the elections act.

There is no question about it, no other immigrant group in Canada presented such a spectacular problem to federal and provincial governments as the Doukhobors, who are a religious sect of Russian origin. There are some seven or eight thousand Doukhobors in Saskatchewan and Alberta who have become more or less successfully adapted to their Canadian environment. There are some ten to twelve thousand persons of Doukhobor origin in Kootenay West and adjacent districts. In order to inform hon. members correctly I must explain that the Doukhobors in British Columbia consist of three main groups. First there is the orthodox element of some six thousand persons, the majority of whom belong to the Union of

Spiritual Communities of Christ and live in the area surrounding the village of Brilliant. These people represent the heart of the Doukhobor community and are a group who aim to retain their traditional language, culture and religious beliefs while making a peaceful adjustment to the Canadian way of life.

Then we have the independent element numbering about three to four thousand persons. This element is composed of individual Doukhobors who have become partially or entirely assimilated. While many of them still pay lip service to the traditional Doukhobor beliefs, they have severed their former ties with Doukhobor organizations and occupy their own properties in the cities and in the country. This is the group that I want to deal with briefly in relation to this bill, Mr. Speaker. Then, finally, there is the group known as the Sons of Freedom, numbering something over two thousand persons. They are uncompromising Doukhobor fundamentalists who tend to react violently against any forces in the Canadian environment which they feel threatens their traditional Doukhobor values. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, with many Canadians the Doukhobor problem tends to be identified almost entirely with the activities of the Sons of Freedom, who refuse to pay rent or taxes and are technically squatters on provincial land.

In 1950, as a result of the disturbances occasioned by the Sons of Freedom, a consultative committee for British Columbia was established under the chairmanship of Dr. MacKenzie, president of the university of British Columbia, composed of several of the staff of that university and representatives nominated by boards of trade at Nelson, Trail and Grand Forks. Before proceeding further, may I say that this committee was formed to study the whole Doukhobor question and make recommendations to the government of British Columbia.

From a personal knowledge of the local situation and a personal knowledge of what these people are doing, I must express my appreciation of the work of the members of the committee, and of the outstanding work that is being performed by former Commissioner Mead of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, former Commissioner Shirras, of the provincial police, and to the Society of Friends, for allowing Mr. Gulley, one of the former United Nations relief administrators in Arabia, to come to the Kootenays to assist in solving this question. I must also express my appreciation of the work being done by the ministerial association of the Nelson district. Only recently I read of a meeting

where large numbers of these people were gathered together with other segments of the population in an effort to bring those two groups together. I must say, Mr. Chairman, that the meetings have been successful to date. There is no question about it that part of the difficulties in Kootenay West are created by the lack of interest other Canadians have taken in the problem they created in the years gone by.

I am also informed that officials of the minister's department are co-operating in this work and have attended meetings to discuss this question with interested persons. I hope this work will continue and be extended, because it presents a great challenge and opportunity to the citizenship branch of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

Now that I have briefly reviewed the question may I say that I rise this evening to speak particularly on one aspect of the Douk-hobor problem, namely the great injustice that is continued by the denial of the franchise to this group of independents and others of Doukhobor origin. The statutes of British Columbia prevent a Doukhobor or a person of Doukhobor descent from voting in a provincial election. I want to quote from those statutes. I quote revised statutes of 1948, chapter 106, provincial elections act."

Definition of Doukhobor: Doukhobor means a

person, male or female, exempted or entitled to claim exemption or who on production of any certificate might have become or would now be entitled to claim exemption from military service by reason of the order of the governor in council of December sixth, 1898, and every descendent of any such person, whether born in the province or elsewhere . . .

Then section 4, clause E, of the provincial elections act, disqualifies "every Doukhobor or person of Doukhobor descent, providing that the provisions of this clause shall not disqualify or render incompetent to vote any person of Doukhobor origin who served in His Majesty's forces" and so on. They are not allowed to vote in a provincial election. Section 14 of the Dominion Elections Act and of the act before us now, the Canada Elections Act, reads as follows:

(2) The following persons are disqualified from voting at an election and incapable of being registered as electors and shall not vote nor be so registered, that is to say-

. . . (j) In any province, every person exempted or entitled to claim exemption or who on production of any certificate might have become or would now be entitled to claim exemption from military service by reason of the order in council of December sixth, 1898, because the doctrines of his religion make him averse to bearing arms, and who is by the law of {hat province disqualified from voting at an election of a member of the legis-tive assembly of that province.

As a result of this combination of provincial and federal legislation, so far as elections

Dominion Elections Act are concerned some considerable group of persons of Doukhobor ancestry are prevented from exercising the franchise, regardless of the fact that they are willing to accept the full responsibilities of a Canadian citizen. What are the types of persons disqualified? There are a good many persons of Doukhobor ancestry who are completely detached from the Doukhobor community and are working in industries in my constituency, but who are not permitted to exercise the franchise in Canada. There are businessmen in my constituency, members of boards of trade, members of Rotary and other service clubs, members of churches-members, I think, of several churches to which members of the House of Commons belong-who are absolutely denied the franchise because they are of Doukhobor origin. I have, of course, in my constituency a number of university graduates, doctors of philosophy, masters of arts, bachelors of science, who are denied the franchise because they are of Doukhobor descent, but who have completely divorced themselves from the Doukhobor community.

In addition I know of a number of Doukhobor parents who persuaded their sons to join the armed forces during the second world war. There were considerable numbers of Doukhobors in the armed forces. Anyone who understands the Doukhobors realizes that that is something for the parents of young Doukhobors to do. Regardless of their desire-and in that case, from their point of view, an extreme demonstration of their desire-to be Canadian citizens, those parents at the present time are denied the franchise.

Then again, the grandchildren of Doukhobors whose grandmothers were Canadians of united empire loyalist stock are denied the franchise under the present legislation. I am speaking particularly of this group of three or four thousand persons, the independents, who are not associated with the orthodox community and are completely opposed to and dissociated from the Sons of Freedom. Mr. Speaker, in Saskatchewan and, I think, in every other province in Canada these people are permitted the franchise; that is, people of Doukhobor origin who are willing to accept the responsibilities of Canadian citizenship. I am making this particular appeal to the house tonight with the realization that it is not possible to secure an amendment to the act at the present time. I do so in order to inform hon. members of the situation so that when this act comes under revision in the near future, and when circumstances are opportune, something will be done about this continuing injustice.

Canada approved- the universal declaration of human rights at the general assembly of

Dominion Elections Act the United Nations with certain reservations based on provincial rights under our federal constitution. What does article 21 of this declaration say? It reads as follows:

1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chozen representatives.

2. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Recently in the Ontario legislature a bill was introduced with respect to certain trade union legislation, and the United Nations declaration of human rights was quoted by the minister presenting that legislation to the house as one of the reasons the legislation was being introduced. Not long ago in California the district court of appeal upset a state law that caused discrimination against a certain race, and that district court of appeal judge based his decision on the universal declaration of human rights as adopted at the general assembly of the United Nations. In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, federal and provincial legislation denying a franchise to these Canadian citizens is unconstitutional and I am convinced that an appeal to the privy council would be successful. [DOT]

I presented this situation to the elections act committee, and after I made a very similar explanation to that which I have made here this evening I was very pleased to see that committee members were sympathetic to my representations, and understood the question much more fully than they had prior to that time. When the committee presented its report on June 27, 1951 they included in it the resolution I had moved and which the committee had adopted as follows:

That the government give consideration to extending the franchise to certain persons of Douk-hobor origin and the advisability of consultation with the government of the province of British Columbia in this matter.

The committee met this session. This bill is the result of their meeting. I took the opportunity then to raise the question and find out what had happened. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Harris) very kindly stated this to the committee:

The committee at the last session passed a resolution which asked the government to give consideration to apDroaching the provincial government of British Columbia with respect to the possible voting of Doukhobors. The form of the resolution was such that we did not feel any compulsion to approach them; it was merely that we would give consideration to approaching them, and we did that. Having in mind, however, that at this particular time the question of the movement of the Doukhobors from one location to another was a matter of some concern to the people in British Columbia as well as to the government we felt that

we would be injecting another note which possibly might not be to the advantage of the government in solving what I think we all agree is a very difficult problem, and, accordingly, we have not ap-proacned them. I hope that statement has nothing in it in any way discourteous to the mover of the resolution, because it has only been carried to that extent, but it is felt that this is not the time that such a matter should be proceeded with.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING ADVANCE POLLS AND PRISONERS OF WAR VOTING REGULATIONS
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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Herridge:

Might I ask the minister a question?

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING ADVANCE POLLS AND PRISONERS OF WAR VOTING REGULATIONS
Permalink
?

Hon. Mr. Harris@

Yes.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING ADVANCE POLLS AND PRISONERS OF WAR VOTING REGULATIONS
Permalink

December 13, 1951