June 16, 1970

LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

The exact

opposite is the situation. Those which are sidelined are not agreed to, but may be the subject of discussion.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

Mr. Chairman, we jumped from subclause 4 a while ago. I was frantically trying to rewrite an amendment to subclause 3.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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?

An hon. Member:

It stands.

June 16, 1970

Canada Elections Act

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

John (Moody) Roberts

Liberal

Mr. Roberts:

The hon. member for Cochrane asked me to move, on his behalf, the amendment which the hon. member for Matane has moved.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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?

George Albert Proud

Mr. Prud'homme:

I should like to say that I agree with this amendment.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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PC

J. Michael Forrestall

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Forrestall:

Would it not be useful for the leader of the House to stand the whole of clause 14 so that we might get on with a few others?

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

I would agree to that. If there are one or two further amendments to be considered overnight, I should probably throw my amendment into the hopper as well.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

Albert Béchard (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

Is it agreed we accept all the amendments and proceed to the other clauses afterwards?

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

I was not clear as to the intent of the amendment moved earlier by the hon. member for Matane. Our amendment is to subclause 2. It would have the effect of delaying for a fairly short period, for a year or perhaps two years, the provision whereby British subjects who have taken out Canadian citizenship cannot vote, and thus enable these recent British subjects to cast their ballot if they meet the other qualifications of residence. However, once the act comes into force British subjects arriving in Canada would have to serve the required five years and secure their Canadian citizenship before being eligible to cast their ballot in a federal election.

It has already been represented to me by some British subjects who have arrived in Canada that one of the things they were told before departing for their new home was that after one year's residence they would be eligible to vote in elections in Canada. One person who made representations to me both by mail and by telephone lives in Ontario, and he told me that although this would not have prevented his coming to Canada, the information that had been given to him would be falsified as a result of this change in electoral law. He submitted, and I agreed, that those coming to Canada have every right to know before arriving what their rights and privileges are in this country from the very day they arrive.

I want to make it quite plain that there is no misunderstanding here. We in this party completely agree that there should no longer be in our electoral law any discrimination as to the eligibility to cast ballots as between

British subjects and those of other racial or ethnic origins. This has to stop in modern Canada. However, those British subjects who arrived in Canada between June 26, 1967, and the day on which this act comes into force should still retain their right to vote as British subjects. Those who arrive in Canada subsequent to the coming into force of this legislation will know beforehand that they must serve the five-year period and become Canadian citizens before being given the federal franchise.

However, I think we should be fair to those who arrived in Canada between June 26, 1967, and the day this act comes into force, which might be next month or next year. These people could number 60,000 to 70,000, if the immigration pattern has remained fairly constant. They should not be disenfranchised because when they arrived in Canada the legislation had not been amended. Therefore, I should like to move the following motion. I regret I have only one copy. I have rewritten the amendment because I received better legal advice in the last few minutes than I did yesterday. I move:

That clause 14 he amended by deleting subclause 3 on page 24 and substituting therefor the following:

"(3) Every British subject, other than a Canadian citizen, who

(a) was qualified as an elector immediately prior to the coming into force of the provisions of this act referred to in subsection 2 of section 119, and

(b) has not, since that date, ceased to be ordinarily resident in Canada, is deemed to be qualified as an elector.

As I say, I am sorry I have only one copy. In view of this I would ask the President of the Privy Council and other members of the committee to sleep on this amendment overnight and to consider giving fair treatment to those British subjects who have arrived in Canada since June 26, 1967, and before the act is proclaimed. They will still be eligible to vote without having to wait the five-year period, but if a British subject arrives in Canada after this bill comes into force he would have to wait the five-year period before he has the federal franchise.

[DOT] (10:50 p.m.)

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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?

George Albert Proud

Mr. Prud'homme:

May I point out to my friend that anyone who emigrates to Canada, be he a British subject or otherwise, knows he will be subject to any new law that might be passed in Canada. What the hon. member is suggesting is similar to the following situation. If I were to emigrate to Canada because there was no military service here, and then

June 16, 1970 COMMONS

suddenly this Parliament decided to vote for conscription in Canada, I might say exactly what the hon. member is trying to say about British subjects being betrayed. In this situation I would have emigrated to Canada because there was no military service and I could say that I was not subject to such a law because when I came to Canada I was told by the immigration officer that there was no military service here. This could be an analogous situation. I am sure people do not come to Canada with only this incentive.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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NDP

Frank Howard

New Democratic Party

Mr. Howard (Skeena):

Mr. Chairman, I would normally accept the proposition that these matters stand, but I understand we did agree to some of them. Normally I would have forgone the opportunity to put forward an idea in respect of this question, but it is close to the time at which we have agreed to see the clock and it might be worth while to put something else before the committee so that it may also be considered overnight. If the amendment of the hon. member for Matane should carry, it would not, I submit, remove the matter of privilege or relief-if one should want to put it another way-in terms of the eligibility to vote, because that situation will still prevail not as a result of the Elections Act but as a result of the Citizenship Act.

Under that act we do discriminate, as I understand it, against the male sex in favour of the female sex in certain circumstances. Normally a person must wait five years before applying for Canadian citizenship, but if a woman who has emigrated to Canada marries a Canadian citizen she has only to wait one year before she can apply for Canadian citizenship. I think that if the government wishes to deal fairly with this matter and bring it up to date, it should consider eliminating the five-year period and instituting a more reasonable period, perhaps one year, so that all people will have equality before the law in terms of citizenship and the right to vote.

While I generally agree with the proposition that equality before the law should not be based on having a privileged position, nonetheless there is a matter which I think should be raised, namely, that it is unfair to a group of people to remove from them a right

DEBATES 8209

Canada Elections Act

they have had up until now. In fact, the committee unanimously, and the government, endorsed that concept. They simply picked a point in time-I believe it was June 25, 1968-and said that up until that time we will respect the particular position that has been afforded British subjects. But from now on there will be an entirely different situation. What the hon. member for Regina-Lake Centre seeks to do is establish another point in time, and he attempts to validate it by saying we should not make the law retroactive in removing this right.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

Albert Béchard (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

Is it agreed that clause 14, with the two suggested amendments, should stand except in respect of those subclauses which already have been carried?

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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NDP

Frank Howard

New Democratic Party

Mr. Howard (Skeena):

Mr. Chairman, did I understand you to say that clause 14 would stand with the two amendments which have been proposed? I think there have been four amendments.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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PC

J. Michael Forrestall

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Forrestall:

With the exception of the two clauses that were agreed to.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

Albert Béchard (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

Together with the four suggested amendments. Shall clause 16, subclause 1, as revised, carry?

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macquarrie:

Mr. Chairman, I hope youi words "Together with the four amendments" do not preclude consideration of the two amendments of my colleague which I will ask hon. members to sleep on so that they can come back to them with their minds fresh.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

Mr. Chairman, I wonder if this would not be a good point at which to see the clock and call it ten o'clock.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

Albert Béchard (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

Is that agreed?

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Progress reported.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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June 16, 1970