August 11, 1956

?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I think, Mr. Chairman, we might pass the item now. The hon. gentleman has at last arrived at the point he started for the other evening, and, having reached his destination, perhaps we can get on with the business of the house.

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PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

draw no inferences whatsoever from that but I do believe it is an interesting fact in connection with this case because it indicates at least one lawyer-

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LIB

George James McIlraith

Liberal

Mr. Mcllrailh:

It indicates the quality of your own mind.

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PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

-is

in a position to obtain this particular type of treatment. Let me make a further point, Mr. Chairman, because it has been somewhat obscure in newspaper reports in the last two or three days.

What is at issue here is not a question of a private quarrel between a mother and her daughter over an estate valued at several million dollars; what is at issue here is the procedure followed by this department in granting the most treasured possession which Canadians can have, their citizenship.

It is important that we take a stand on whether citizenship is going to be granted to those who will value and cherish it and use it here in Canada or whether it is going to be granted to someone who in this case is going to wear it on the shoulder of her dress like a little badge and show that badge practically all the time outside of Canada, refusing to live in Canada and follow the normal procedure of a Canadian citizen in that respect.

I suggest to the committee, Mr. Chairman, that it has been conclusively proven that during the last year when the act called for the applicant to reside continuously in Canada her residence here was of a very short duration. The evidence would indicate that actually it was in the nature of two weeks to a month during that entire year.

The evidence would indicate further that in the preceding years at which time the act also called for the applicant to reside in Canada for four out of a preceding six years, her residence in Canada was of a very temporary nature if indeed it can be said that

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Supply-Citizenship and Immigration there was any residence here. We also know that this woman's minor children have lived continuously in Europe and that no attempt has been made to establish their residence in Canada. We know, too, that immediately upon obtaining her Canadian citizenship this lady left for Europe and has remained there almost continuously since and that at the present time she is, to quote the words of her lawyer in New York, "on tour in Europe". I suggest to you, Mr. Chairman, she is hardly the type of person who is going to take a great interest in her Canadian citizenship.

Regarding the star chamber proceedings of this court in Montreal, let us remind ourselves that those who opposed her application offered to supply stenographers to take down the evidence and were refused.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Mr. Chairman, I think perhaps the hon. gentleman is as ignorant of the proceedings in these courts and the proceedings that have been carried on in all these cases everywhere as he appears to be of most of the true facts of this particular case in other respects.

I might point out that it is not the custom to carry on these inquiries in public in any case. The judge receives the applicant in his chambers and asks questions in order to determine whether the person is a suitable individual to receive citizenship. Some of these questions are of an extremely personal nature and I know of no case-I have never heard of any case since I became minister- where these inquiries have been held in public. I think it would be a very undesirable and retrograde step if they were to be held in public.

There is, as the hon. member for Cartier pointed out, a provision in the act for any person who wishes to oppose one of these applications to make representations in writing. Certain representations were made in this case and I am informed were considered. It was proceeded with in the same way as in any other case and the use of terms like "star chamber" is quite inappropriate and a misrepresentation of what really happened.

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LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

May I draw the hon. member's attention to the provisions of citation 253 of Beauchesne's third edition which reads in part as follows:

All reference to judges and courts of justice and to personages of high official station, of the nature of personal attack and censure, have always been considered unparliamentary-

I hope the hon. member will remember that citation in his reference to this particular court.

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PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

The

minister went to great length to point out to us recently that this court is not of exactly

the same nature as a court of law. That was given as one of the reasons why they refused to permit the opposant to be present at the time of the hearing.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

That is not a correct statement either. The only difference between this court and any other court that acts in matters of citizenship is that the clerk and other officials of the court are federal civil servants instead of being provincial civil servants, but the judge is appointed by the federal government as is the case with county court and superior court judges. I was indicted with great warmth the other day by the hon. member for Kamloops when he said I was contemptuous of the courts in connection with immigration matters, a statement that was completely untrue. He made a great deal of the allegation that I paid no attention to the courts and disregarded the courts. Now the hon. member for Notre Dame de Grace comes here and says that I should set myself up above the courts and review their proceedings and interfere with what happens in the courts. I say that that is a shocking suggestion for any hon. member to make.

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PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

The

minister says it is shocking but he did it 162 times last year.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

That is completely and unreservedly false; I did not do that in any single case. When I receive a recommendation, in every case I consider our own records in the department and such other records as are available to us and any other information that is available and relevant, but we never look at the proceedings in the courts. We assume that the judge has done his duty properly and that what he has done is not for us to review.

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PC

John Borden Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Noire Dame de Grace):

can only draw hon. members' attention to the words in Hansard where the minister pointed out that in the past year he had rejected 162 applications which had been recommended to him by a judge of one of these courts, and that shortly afterward he said that he did not act as a court of appeal. He claims such action would be simply a shocking thing. I leave it to the committee to decide what is correct and what is not correct in the minister's statement.

However, I am not attacking the judiciary or the courts; I am pointing out certain facts in order to proceed one step further and bring forward certain other interesting facts which have since come to my attention in connection with this case. I was pointing out at the time of the minister's original interruption that despite the fact the opposant offered

to supply the proper stenographic assistance to transcribe the proceedings, that was refused by the court. Subsequently the hearings were held in chambers with the opposant and attorney for the opposant excluded. I shall not labour the business of the exclusion. The minister told us a few moments ago that to all intents and purposes this was a court. I suggest to you therefore that it is highly improper, in the light of his own statement that this is a court, that the completely traditional procedure of having attorneys for the opposants present at every stage of the proceedings should have been thrown overboard in this particular case. It leads us, however, to certain difficulties in assessing the evidence on which the minister presumably came to a conclusion because we find that the findings of the president of the court of Canadian citizenship, Paul Fontaine, on April 16, 1956 include the following. He refers to a certain time when the petitioner was in Brazil and then he continues:

From there she went to the United States where she stayed until November, 1950, at which time she came to Canada.

That is quite a statement, a very definite statement of residence on the part of this applicant in the United States. On the other hand, we find the same applicant on the 21st day of May, 1956, in a sworn statement which, incidentally, was also made in Rome, Italy, referring to her United States residence and denying it. There was a question of guardianship and her location in connection with that. This is the signed and sworn statement by the same person who was said by the judge of the court to have stayed in the United States:

With reference to such guardianship, it is true that deponent had a mailing address at 55 West 55th street, but neither petitioner nor deponent ever lived there. Annexed to this affidavit is the affidavit of Seymour Groshut, Esq., a member of the New York Bar and the president of New York Associates, Inc., the owner since 1943 of the premises located at 55 west 55th street.

As appears from said affidavit, the apartment in question was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Ajo, their daughter and a governess. It consisted of four rooms, a kitchen, livingroom and two bedrooms. Neither deponent nor petitioner ever spent a night in that apartment. During this period, deponent's recollection is that she visited New York on not more than two occasions (petitioner not at all), and stayed for not more than two or three days. On no occasion did deponent stop elsewhere than at a hotel, the Langdon as deponent believes. Petitioner well knows that neither she nor deponent was domiciled in New York during the period in question. . . .

We have there, Mr. Chairman, what would seem to me to be evidence given to the judge-

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

What is the date of that document?

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PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

gave it a moment ago. It is dated May 21, 1956 and it was executed in the province of Rome, city of Rome, embassy of the United States of America. It was sworn to before the vice-consul of the United States of America.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I should like to know how the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration or the judge of the court could have been expected in April to know the contents of a document that did not exist until May and then was prepared in Rome.

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PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

The

point I am making is that the minister rushed this application through with such expediency-

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I presume the hon. member means expedition.

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PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

-.

that it was not properly dealt with and all the facts were not brought out. The house will remember that I drew attention to a telegram from the attorney for the opposition dated May 24, 1956 stating that he had certain facts that he thought should be produced to the minister and the minister refused to accept those facts and told the attorney that if he wished to proceed on the basis of them he should go to the courts himself.

Another document in connection with the case which is interesting is one which I hold in my hand, and to refresh the memory of hon. members I should like to refer to the findings of the judge in Montreal regarding residence on this lady's yacht. His findings read in part as follows:

From April 25, 1955, to December 3, 1955, the petitioner lived aboard a yacht owned by the Merida Co., an incorporated company under the laws of the province of Quebec flying British and Canadian merchant marine flags.

The date I would underline in that connection is April 25, 1955 because again I hold in my hand a document, the authenticity of which is sworn to before Mr. Pierre Dupuis in the Canadian embassy at Rome. The document is in Italian and I will therefore not attempt to read it. But it is the commissioning papers of this particular yacht on which the lady claims to have lived from April 25, 1955, and it is interesting that the yacht was commissioned on the 1st of July, 1955, a month and a week after she claimed to have taken up residence on the yacht. Incidentally, the document also indicates that the commission of the yacht expired at the end of August. It is quite possible that the commission may

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Supply-Citizenship and Immigration have been renewed subsequently to cover her residence on the yacht until December 3, but there seems to be very grave doubt that the yacht was even in the water until the end of June, 1955. There has been some indication that the yacht was in the shipyards during the early part of the period that Madame Feltrinelli claims residence thereon.

I would point out just in passing that the registry of the yacht is actually British and not Canadian, although it is owned in Canada.

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LIB
PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

There is one other point I should like to bring up. Earlier in the debate the Minister of Trade and Commerce rose to his feet in the house, innocence dripping from him like water from a lake Ontario swimmer, and said in effect: "What is this all about? The rest of us should know something about this." Then he asked me a string of questions. That was three or four days ago. I drew to the minister's attention at that time that he had received letters and copies of letters to the Minister of Justice outlining the details of the case, but I was not aware at that time that another letter also was in existence. It is on the letterhead of the Minister of Trade and Commerce, is dated May 7, 1956 and reads:

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter of May 4, and copies of your correspondence with the Hon. Stuart Garson, Minister of Justice, and the office of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in connection with the application for naturalization of Mrs. Giovanna Feltrinelli. I appreciate having this information in the event that I am consulted in this case.

The letter is signed "C. D. Howe". I draw that to the attention of the house to indicate the cavalier attitude which has been adopted towards the case by various members of the government who wrote acknowledging receipt of the details and then when they came into the house claimed that they knew nothing about it. There are on file a goodly number of other letters acknowledging receipt of this material from such people as the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Transport, the Minister of National Health and Welfare, the Secretary of State. By the way, if I may stop at this point, the Secretary of State writes: Dear Mr. Levitsky:

I acknowledge receipt of your letter of May 4, with its enclosures, concerning the application for naturalization of Mrs. Giovanna Feltrinelli, which I shall discuss with my colleagues.

I am just wondering what the results of that discussion may have been. The Minister of Labour also acknowledged receipt of the material. The Minister of Fisheries also acknowledged receipt of this material.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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August 11, 1956